Inside the future of marketing … Nestle’s Digital Acceleration Lab brings the Minority Report to life

October 22, 2018

The old idea of marketing was that you develop a product, you launch, and promote it to mass markets with mass advertising. And hope the sales will come.

The problem, of course, is that markets are much more complex. They are noisy and competitive, so brands need context and relevance. And consumers are definitely not average, but rather individuals with a diversity of situations, needs and aspirations.

Digital technologies, and the huge amount of realtime data which they enable, have transformed markets and the way we market.

Today’s marketing starts with the consumer. Having one to one conversations at scale. Influenced by friends and communities. In context, in realtime. Powered by the mobile phone, facilitated by social media, competing for attention and relevance.

When Tom Cruise worked into The Gap and was greeted by a a hologram, we thought this was science fiction. The Minority Report movie from 2002 was set in the year 2054.

But Nestle’s Digital Acceleration Team is a great example of how 2054 is already becoming a reality.

DAT is a project that has evolved over the last 8 years from a social media dashboard, to a fully-function global brand control room, from which marketing programs are managed interactively.

The old notion of mass-market, blanket-coverage, hope-for-the-best “campaigns” are replaced by constant monitoring of brand chatter across all types of platforms – from Instagram and Facebook to physical media, Google searches, and TV channels.

From the chatter emerges patterns of behaviour – who is buying what, where, when, how – overlay the current promotional activity, overlay current sports or music events, overlay weather and temperatures, overlay stock and retail footprints.

Marketers quickly learn what is working and what is not, how to take the best ideas from one place and apply elsewhere, how to respond to events, how to move stock, how to price dynamically, how to engage with audiences directly, and individuals personally.

This is just one example of brands reimagining how they connect with consumers. The point is not the data itself, but firstly how consumers are changing – who they trust, how they are influenced, where they buy, and why. And how brands are changing.

It’s also about how businesses can innovate – services beyond products, direct to consumer channels, consumer-driven conversation, building richer experiences, engaging with communities, context partners such as sport, entertainment, locality.

And ultimately how sales and marketing is reinvented in a consumer-driven, personal-knowing, value-enabling, relationship-building way. Data is then the fuel to enable this new vision for business models, marketing approaches, and brand experiences.

A new generation of brands and retail platforms are enabling this transformation in even more imaginative ways – take Glossier, the world’s fast growing beauty brand with a C2C ethos, or Pinduoduo, fusing social media with gamification, retail and entertainment.

Walk through the streets of Medellin and your phone navigates you to stores, with personalised offers, maybe already part of your brand subscription. Pick up your L’Oreal magic mirror, and cosmetics are custom-made to match your complexion and dreams.

Brands become participative, immersed within their consumers’ lives. Music is downloaded in a gym, not in a sterile vacuum with perfect wifi and rational choice, or on a gaming platform like Fortnite.

Too many brands are still slaves to their advertising, or even their agencies. Creativity is focused on the message rather than the medium, the product not the experience. Time for marketers to accelerate the future, and bring Tom Cruise’s vision to life.


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