eBev 2015 – Where Digital Meets Beverage Marketing

Miami offers a warm breath of fresh air in the brisk month of November.  It was also home to the 2015 eBev (electronic beverage) conference

eBev 2015 featured keynotes, panels and breakouts delivered and led by some of the the beverage industry’s finest marketers, agencies, and martech providers, including Coca-ColaPepsi CoWaterfallAnheuser BuschHeinekenE. & J. Gallo, ibottaFandangoSNIPP and many more.  They all attended to pay due recognition to the beverage category, learn from each other, as well as recognize the winners of the first annual Golden Bevies awards.

The event kicked off with the show’s master of ceremony, mCordis’ Michael Becker, delivering the opening keynote to set the stage for what is shaping our digitally-led economy in the coming months, years and decades. 

Michael began by reminding us all that although we have entered the digital era, and as a result, are witnessing new consumer engagement breakthroughs everyday. Marketers, Becker points out, should focus on people first and the relationships that are formed between brands and individuals, then focus on the technology that can be used to build these relationships. He pointed out, we are entering the age of people-centric marketing.

Becker, quoting Cicero, the Roman Philosopher, “if you wish to persuade me, you must think my thoughts, feel my feelings, and speak my words,” reminds us that marketers must understand each individual they serve, they must develop empathy for their target customers, and integrate this understanding in their marketing if they wish to be successful in the digital era.

According to Becker, the challenge and opportunity for marketers today is to learn how to communicate with people, as individual’s, at scale.  Becker explained that, in order to accomplish this, marketers must put people first and understand their journey. Marketers must also employ new innovative technology, like marketing automation, to reach them and establish a one-to-one relationship with people via mobile. 

The theme, putting people first, was the common thread throughout Becker’s keynote. Marketing initially began with a proprietor to consumer relationship, Becker explained.  Becker used a “Butcher” example to refer to how marketing used to be— “people used to visit their local butcher and engage in simple personal conversations while they waited for their meat to be prepared.  The butcher knew their family, their preferences and took care of them.” 

In this old model you had personal marketing, but it did not scale, Becker explained. This fundamental method of marketing was lost for a few decades as big box retail evolved when marketers took the ‘quantity over quality’ approach in which they targeted and served as many people as possible to achieve their goals. In this model, Becker explained, “we got scale but lost personalization.”  Finally, Becker notes, with the introduction of the iPhone and all Smartphones following it, marketers now have the ability to have personalization with scale.  Marketers, regardless of size, can now market to, engage and service people, millions of people, as individuals.

This shift is from personalization, to scale, and then to personalization at scale is changing the very nature of how marketers are framing their strategies.  Becker discussed how traditional segmentation is being replaced by persona driven marketing, marketing that adds consumer behavior to the lens that shapes how marketers reach their ideal customers.  Moreover, he adds, many leading marketers are taking it a step further and are moving to profile based marketing, i.e. adding individual addressibility to the persona record and thus creating a profile. Marketers can now develop profiles for individual people and are marketing to them on a one-to-one basis.

In addition to engaging people as individuals, Becker also discussed the need to consider their journey.  It is becoming increasingly common for marketers to start adopting a customer journey framework to help map their marketing efforts.  Becker emphasized that marketers need to remember that they don’t create the customer’s journey, the customer does.  Marketers need to find ways to be relevant, deliver value, and be of service to people at their moments of need.

This process involves thinking of how a potential consumer becomes a customer and mapping their path to purchase by predicting their thoughts, feelings, and actions. 

In the digital era, Becker reminds us that a brand is more than its product or service, it is the collection of experiences a person has with the brand across the entire customer journey. Therefore, it is up to marketers to take their own innovative ideas and integrate them with the traditional marketing methods of using paid advertising such as TV commercials, online banner ads, and social media promotions.  Becker advises marketers to “use mobile as the bridge between traditional and digital media” to create the personal relationship between brands and consumers, but at scale.

Expectations are being changed just based on the way we interact with media. “Mobile has fundamentally changed the way we interact with each other and ultimately the way we interact with the world” exclaimed Becker.  The human attention span has dropped dramatically in the past decade and for the first time ever, people have a shorter attention span than a goldfish, when in a shopping environment; that is, according to research from GFK.  This change is largely accredited to mobile devices, new content consumption mediums like social media, and its expansive capabilities available at the touch of a finger.

Becker went on to list a few creative examples in which marketers are doing a spectacular job of utilizing mobile to drive sales and increase brand recognition.  If you’re interested, please checkout Kingsford Charcoal’s use of SnippCheck technology or Durex’s mobile app and find out just how innovative some of these campaigns really are.

The key takeaway from Becker’s keynote was this, now that mobile has made it possible to engage individual people at scale, it is more important than ever to provide consumers with relevant and informative content. Becker’s presentation set the benchmark for what to expect, and each speaker was able to add to the esteemed insights throughout the conference. 

In the words of Mike Raleigh, EVP Executive Director of Geometry Global and sponsor for the event, “This [marketing] train is speeding down the track, and everything is changing” if you’re not paying attention, you’ll get derailed. Stay tuned and check out our other articles on the event. 

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