Why meaningful agility, friction and experiences should be the focus for FMCG marketers

Our recent webinar focused on the future challenges for marketing, particularly in FMCG, and three themes emerged: meaningful approaches to agile marketing, adding friction and re-defining experiences.

Jun 3, 2021

By Neil Davidson

Not only did marketing leaders have strong opinions about these themes, they also had really useful tips on what to do next when grabbing these opportunities. This was debated in the context of Scott Galloway’s predictions on ‘The Great Dispersion’ and HeyHuman’s work on ‘Brand Dispersion.’

Watch the full webinar here.

We need to forget the fluff around ‘agile’ and focus on ‘meaningful agility’ instead.

The list of pandemic marketing buzzwords is endless and ‘agile’ was definitely one of them. It’s not that there isn’t a place for being agile, it’s that ‘meaningful agility’ is what marketing leaders believe is really needed. The notion of being agile and ‘agile marketing’ is seen as being poorly understood and defined. If your organisation and your marketing approach weren’t truly agile before the pandemic it’s worth asking whether you really made the change in the last year, beyond just process and timelines – did it truly change the culture of the organisation? As a result, many marketing leaders believe that if you weren’t agile pre-pandemic there’s a high chance that more work is needed now to make new agile behaviours stick.

Top marketing leader’s tip for being meaningfully agile:

“Enhancing and enabling global networks is very important to bringing in agility and it also brings in fresh perspective. You don’t need to be a global business to do that, I think anyone can, it’s just about building the right set of networks and contacts.”

(Mark Brown, Marketing Director, Northern Europe at General Mills)

End the obsession with removing friction.

There was also discussion about a much talked-about concept that existed before the pandemic that has really come to the fore, the idea of friction vs friction-free experiences. Initially, it seemed that the rise of D2C triggered an obsession with removing friction to create seamless engagements that glided into purchase. However, it’s been noticeable that there has been much more recognition amongst marketing leaders that this is overly simplistic, and that meaningful friction is part of what is needed in some elements of brand experiences. Sometimes friction is needed, and many marketing leaders believe that added friction will be just as important in the future for marketers. For example, in brand building it’s really important to empathise with people and empathy requires the friction of meaningful interactions and meaningful content.

Top marketing leader’s tip for meaningful friction:

“When the objective is clear, friction can be critical in achieving your objective. Making something completely frictionless often comes with the danger of making it mindless. The moment you want your consumers to tap into a more deliberate thought processes that’s the moment you need to introduce friction. Slowing down the decision-making process can help you disrupt existing habits and get people to engage with your brand.”

(Mariya Kutmanova, Former Head of Creative Strategy & Content GB&I at Coca Cola)

Think about next generation experiences.

The future of experiences was the final topic that most marketing leaders were focused on, recognising that these had to be re-defined due to new behaviours (particularly in-home consumptions), new expectations of brands and the explosion of experientially relevant digital channels, and part of this was to make the definition of experiences more holistic and dimensionalised. Part of this new equation for experiences was recognising that there was no economic argument for D2C as part of this.

Top marketing leader’s tip for re-defining experiences:

“Brands need to make sure that every engagement, every touch point, is an experience with people. We are seeing this shift from experiential, which is brand-first and in real-life, to now more people-first, which means experiences are everywhere. Therefore, we now need to think about the whole customer journey and look for more opportunities to create experiences.”

(Liz Richardson, Managing Director at HeyHuman)

It’s clear brands must adapt and change their approach to almost every facet of marketing to connect with consumers in a more meaningful way through different channels. Legacy FMCG brands must embrace D2C thinking and channels, while D2C brands need to think beyond frictionless experiences and how they can build more emotional connections.

Watch the full webinar here.