Claudine Patel of the post-consumer brand on the importance of diversity of thought in driving disruption
One thing has become clear amid the pandemic is that digital adoption rates have skyrocketed and DTC has become the new normal. The need for brands to continuously innovate to deliver value to consumers in different ways, every day, is only intensifying. To be successful, cohesive online and offline experiences are needed, and brands are quickly developing new strategies to reimagine what the future of CX will look like.
To do this, brands must bring in disruptive thought processes to refresh internal culture, while using the best of art and science to push for breakthrough experiential innovations. This process requires original thinking applied to everything from rigor around skills to unique partnerships that take advantage of cutting-edge technology.
For this reason, I thought it would be helpful to speak to someone who has demonstrated a passion for breakthrough innovation and significant disruption throughout their career, as well as more recently in their new role as CMO. by Post Consumer Brands. Claudine Patel is a marketing rockstar who created defining moments for some of the world’s biggest brands including: Coca Cola, Reckitt, Kellogg’s and Kraft Foods (now Mondolēz). Here’s a summary of our conversation:
Billée Howard: Great to chat, Claudine. Tell me about your new role and your vision for bringing major disruption to a 150 year old brand. You and I discussed the importance of mindset in the process. Can you also tell me about it specifically?
Claudine Patel: Happy to talk, Billee. I am the new Marketing Director for Post Consumer Brands. I’m three months away and delighted with this new role. I work with a lot of great talents, a lot of people who have been at the Post Office for a long time and who teach me the history of brands. I think it’s super exciting.
What really excites me is helping the team continue our growth agenda in the years to come. We want to push our heritage brands, many of which are truly iconic in the industry, into new spaces and places that we want to be. I really think about the strategy and focus on modernizing the way we market from a brand perspective, and even down to the way we execute. I think the thing with the disruptions, it really comes from the culture, because more than anything, it’s really the people behind the scenes who do a lot of what matters. I reflect on how we drive culture as a way to catalyze disruption. I am all for building a spirit of growth. I love to learn not only from our organization, but to be inspired outside of the category and outside of the category. For example, the tech and retail industries disrupt the landscape we learn from in many ways. I think diversity of thought is something we really need to embrace, and it’s a topic that I’m very passionate about.
I’m trying to expose myself and the team to new ways of thinking about how other industry leaders and how other insurgent brands plan to disrupt the landscape and take a part of it. their cultural inspiration.
Howard: It’s really exciting. I know one of the main reasons they brought you in was not just your vast CPG experience, but because you are known to be daring enough to try new and innovative things. Tell me about how you plan to improve capabilities and bring more rigor to the marketing organization to push the boundaries of marketing innovation?
Patel: Throughout my career, I have always been passionate about finding new ways to be revolutionary in the way we drive innovation, in marketing and branding. I always come back to diversity of thought. The teams I have worked and led with in the past have all helped and shaped the way I think. This is why I come back to why it is so important to always keep an open mind in terms of learning and inspiration from others. If I go back to my experience at Coke over 20 years ago, this is where I really learned the art and science of marketing.
Marketing is sometimes approached as an art form, where it’s all about creativity. How are we inspired by what is happening in the market culturally? However, I think it must be bigger than that. This is really how marketing and innovation should act in the service of the company. That’s how I always like to approach it. The scientific part is just as important. What are the right KPIs that will drive the business, where can marketing be a part of influencing? I think we really focus on the main levers that we need to activate and then refine how we measure success so that we can continue to iterate and learn. I believe you can only be better if you have numbers attached to the implications of how you are going in the market.
I also think that art and science in the past was really focused on a lot of data that was more historical. You were looking at the KPIs that measured the success of how your creative campaigns came to life, how you performed in the market, in retail, and things like that. It was all you could get from traditional ways of looking at KPIs, like Nielsen. If you look at it today I think the science part has become a lot more dynamic which it sure wasn’t 20 years ago. Real-time learning, first-party data, thinking about consumer experiences through the lens of what you can get from your CRM. I think that’s probably what has changed the most.
Howard: Very interesting. With that in mind, we talked about the future of the store and also discussed more broadly what the new CX continuum looks like, the need for a cohesive online and offline strategy. What should people be thinking about in relation to this in 2022?
Patel: The online and offline world has changed so much. I think Walmart is a great example of how they were inspired by DTC companies. They also use technology a lot to inspire their in-store experience. Ultimately, when it comes to the offline world, there’s a lot of learning from the online space around two things.
The first is how to simplify the shopping experience? How do you use the data you have from digital shelves and the digital shopping experience to bring much more simplicity to the store? I think that’s a way of thinking about how you help shoppers navigate offline when they walk into the store and figure out what they want to buy and what they want to choose. The other thing is, how do you take inspiration from the tech world and the DTC world again and really uplift the brand experience in the store? I think these two things can teach you what’s really important. You also need to make sure that the brand’s experience in the offline world is extremely consistent with how it presents itself in both spaces. I think more and more retailers will see it, as will Walmart. The other retailer that has really fascinated me recently is Camp, the children’s experience store. I think they’ve done a really good job bringing the kids’ in-store experience and the way they present themselves online to life. At Post, we hope to partner with our retailers to create cohesive brand experiences across both areas and improve customer experiences both offline and online.
Howard: Can you share good practices or thoughts on innovative partnership strategies?
Patel: In fact, I’ve been quite impressed with some new partnerships that are pushing traditional boundaries, including the Casper and West Elm Association. I think it’s a great partnership because Casper wanted to reach offline consumers and really increase the scale. What I love about their very powerful partnership is how they brought the offline experience to the real world where you can touch, smell, lie on their mattresses and really experience it before. to buy. I think that was also very smart for West Elm as it helps them improve the in-store experience today. Casper is a wonderful brand if you want to attract the millennial cohort into your business, so it helps them in the long run as well. I think part of their roadmap is to grow into boutique hotels and expand their brand image. Blending experiences and bringing them to life, in both online and offline worlds through unique and mutually beneficial partnerships. I think it’s pretty amazing and something we’re going to see a lot more.