New General Market: Brands look to build emotional connections


Brands that successfully connect with consumers do so at both an emotional and practical level, according to panelists at the New General Market Purpose-Driven Summit this summer.

Moderator Dan Mack of Mack Elevation framed the discussion around the need for companies to have a purpose and corporate calling that creates an emotional connection. Four vendors shared how they perceive their purpose as it relates to consumers.

“At Bausch + Lomb, we’re focused on helping people have healthy eyes to be able to live their fullest lives,” said panelist Chris Marschall, vice president of marketing at Bausch + Lomb. He described two promotional efforts that reflect this purpose.

The “Why Eye Fight” campaign sought to connect with consumers over the age 65 years old who have age-related macular degeneration, or AMD. The company featured several videos of real people sharing their stories this past February for AMD Awareness Month, generating almost a million social engagements.

“The campaign was designed to inspire people, helping them to understand the reason for why they fight for their vision,” Marschall said. “In doing so, we created a real sense of community for people who live with AMD.

The other promotional effort spoke to younger contact lens wearers who spend a lot of time using digital media. .

The campaign revolved around “biotruths,” which Marschall described as “culturally relative moments where people may experience contact lens dryness.”

He said millions of people engaged with the campaign, noting how relevant these situations are to their day to day lives.

Beth St. Raymond, director of shopper marketing and merchandising at Edgewell Personal Care, the parent company of Schick, Edge, Hawaiian Tropic, Banana Boat and other brands, said the company has embraced an educational approach to the sun care category as a whole.

“We have what we think is a good solution around category education,” St. Raymond said. “That helps us partner a lot — people understand that we are trying to take a category approach and help with the categories.”

Embracing Diversity
Glenn McCloskey, vice president of sales at Milani Cosmetics, said the family-owned company takes its purpose around cultural diversity and inclusion seriously, and it is reflected not only in its customer base but in its employee composition, as well.

“It’s part of our DNA,” McCloskey said. “The best teams are the ones that really like each other and get along. They tend to perform better. I do think that’s one of our unique competitive advantages — the family atmosphere.”

The employee base, which draws from the company’s hometown of East Los Angeles, is a reflection of the customer base, he said.

“Every ethnic group is represented in a 20-mile radius [of the headquarters],” he said. “They’re the people that work for us, and they’re the people that we sell product to, so it’s a great match.”

Debbie Alsup, senior director of the Walmart team at Paris Presents, said the company’s EcoTools brand started with the intention to “create a brush collection that was not only environmentally friendly, but chic, high quality and affordable, too.”

“It’s all about empowering women to really find that confidence they have,” Alsup said. “I could talk a lot about all the different things that we’re doing and all the money that we’re giving away, but really, when it gets right down to it, it’s that personal one-on-one that we have with each consumer, that we transform that power of beauty into empowerment for women.”

This story is part of a Special Report on the New General Market Purpose-Driven Summit — to read more insights, click here


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New General Market: Retailers seek alignment around purpose

Panelists said challenges lie in executing consistently at store level

BY Mark Hamstra

Retailers often strive to be purpose-driven companies, but it can be challenging to execute against that purpose across an entire organization.

For example, store-level workers often behave in unexpected ways, according to retail panelists at the recent New General Market Purpose-Driven Summit presented by Drug Store News and Mack Elevation.

“They are interacting with thousands of people every day, and not all of those interactions are going to go according to the way the handbook would like them to interact,” said George Coleman, vice president of merchandising for consumer healthcare at CVS Health.

He cited a remark recently made by Larry Merlo, president and CEO of CVS Health: even if 99% of employees are doing the right thing, that leaves a couple thousand who may not be performing by the book.

“You can’t legislate every behavior in your company, but if you have a strong enough set of core values underpinning your purpose, and if you model those as leaders and hold people accountable for those behaviors, people can internalize those things themselves and make it their own,” Coleman said.

CVS Health’s purpose, he said, is “helping people on the path to better health.” It is reflected in such corporate initiatives as the removal of tobacco products from the company’s stores and the more recent “beauty in real life” approach to marketing in which only unretouched photos are used.

Citing research showing that 80% of young girls feel worse about themselves after viewing beauty advertising, Coleman said the move away from using retouched photos is meant to address the mental health of those consumers. As a healthcare company, CVS Health has insights into the growing use of antidepressants and antianxiety medications, he said.

“Our purpose, helping people on the path to better health, really does drive us,” Coleman said. “[Eliminating] tobacco was the big headliner, but we have been building on these things every year.”

Latriece Watkins, senior vice president at Walmart, said the retailer ensures its workers are familiar with Walmart’s purpose, which is to help people save money so they can live better lives.

“Our associates know that our purpose is to save people money so they can live better. We also know that time is important to our customers, and we want to be the place they can count on us for saving time and money,” she said. “Customers still love going to our stores, and we work hard to ensure that we’re enabling them to shop however they want, wherever they want, whenever they want.”

Over time, Walmart’s brand promise has expanded beyond just seeking to offer everyday low prices to include saving people time, as well, which is reflected in such initiatives as free two-day shipping without a membership fee on orders of $35 or more, online grocery pickup and delivery, and Pickup Today. Watkins said the changes are driving the company to “reimagine the store.”

Colleen Lindholz, president of Kroger Health, agreed that communicating the company’s purpose clearly to all associate across 18 retail banners can be a challenge.

She said that Kroger is dedicated to its purpose: to “Feed the Human Spirit.” She also said that Kroger’s nearly half a million associates serve over 9 million customers daily through a seamless digital shopping experience, 2,800 retail food stores, 2,300 pharmacies and 220 retail clinics, as well as through food inspiration and uplift, and creating #ZeroHungerZeroWaste communities by 2025.

Lindholz said Kroger Health increasingly seeks opportunities to fulfill its vision of helping people live healthier lives by creating solutions that combine health, wellness and nutrition, and connect with customers on a personal and emotional level.

“We believe food is medicine,” she said. Through our new OptUP mobile app, we are providing an easy way to make healthier food choices … it’s your virtual assistant for personalized healthier shopping.”

Chris Skyers, vice president of own brands at Wakefern Food, the retailer-owned cooperative and parent of the ShopRite banner, said achieving internal alignment around purpose can be challenging, and companies need to focus on it relentlessly to succeed.

“Stay true to your core and really focus on that,” he said. “If it is feeding the community, stay focused on that. Otherwise, what will happen is you will just be good at it, rather than great at it.”

Skyers said collaboration and trust are key to internal alignment around purpose.

“It’s really about getting the right people on board and then giving them the freedom to make mistakes,” he said.

This story is part of a Special Report on the New General Market Purpose-Driven Summit — to read more insights, click here


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New General Market: Clarity through purpose

BY David Salazar

The new leadership challenge: building a purpose-led business.

Mike Clementi, Unilever’s vice president of human resources-North America and customer development, kicked off his presentation at the New General Market Purpose-Driven Summit by highlighting that the corporate world has been in a state of paradox. The new order is seeing companies transform their focus and organizations rapidly alongside competition and disruption, globalization, digitization and fragmentation.

In short, it is now a world where what he called “trade-off management” is a necessary tool, but we need a new lens to make decisions. We see this being replaced with polarity management, the need to balance between two trends that seem to pull in the opposite direction.

“The reality is we have to manage both sides of the equation at the same time,” he said, noting that building an organization with purpose is the best way to ensure that an organization has a North Star as it navigates a shifting landscape.

“What is your beacon in a world where new competition is a threat, but it’s also an opportunity?” Clementi said. “You need a beacon, something that guides you — a point of view, a perspective. So, organizations are forced to transform because it’s not just about the bottom line — it’s also about the reason organizations exist.”

At Unilever, Clementi said that the company has a purpose — to grow its business while decoupling its environmental footprint from its growth, and increasing its positive social impact — that he said unites its employees. The company does so through three elements — the individual employee, brands and the company as a whole.

Regarding the need for an individual purpose, Clementi quoted Jackie Robinson, who said: “Life is not important except for the impact it has on other lives.” In order to get employees in touch with their purpose, the company holds purpose workshops. The thinking behind this, he said, is that people with purpose are able to thrive.

“We find that when people are connected to their personal purpose and do it at work, it creates an owners mindset,” he said. “People living their purpose stay with an organization for a longer time because they get to do what they want in a way that’s authentic.”

Alongside bringing employees in touch with their individual purposes, Clementi said Unilever’s brands also are engaged in delivering on purpose, using the existing heritage that made them household mainstays — because, he said, brands with purpose grow faster.

Clementi highlighted the work that Dove Men+Care is doing, building on its heritage of celebrating men’s role in others’ lives since its 2010 launch, by pushing for paternity leave for new dads. The campaign was accompanied by Unilever including them in its global parental leave policy.

“What you are seeing is the authenticity of Dove,” he said. “So, 2018 and beyond is where the purpose of the brand sits. The whole point is speaking authentically to what the brand is about in a way that’s different and resonates with core consumers.”

In so doing, brands manage to bring consumers into the discussion, as well. “We want people to say, ‘Actually I think I can do this — I can change the world because I’m standing for something’” through the brand.

Both individual and brand purposes exist under the umbrella of the larger company’s purpose and culture. Clementi said that at Unilever, this is largely embodied in its leadership model, which focuses on an inner and outer game. The inner game is focused on purpose and service, as well as personal mastery and agility. Outer game elements include consumer love, business acumen and passion for high performance.

“This idea of the inner and outer game is super important because it focuses our leadership model to take purpose to the next level,” Clementi said. “Purpose provides clarity.”

This story is part of a Special Report on the New General Market Purpose-Driven Summit — to read more insights, click here


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Which area of the industry do you think Amazon's entry would shake up the most?