July 3, 2015

No time for Insight spin, the Russians are coming

By Paul Laughlin

iStock photoIt’s not often that you have opportunity to discuss Customer Insight with leading Russian retailers.

On 1 July, at #MSMS2015 event, I had such an  opportunity and thoroughly enjoyed it.

In the end this was an exclusive, intimate business tour for predominantly two leading Russian retailers (from fashion & home furnishings sectors). That was beneficial, as a  beautiful setting in South Kensington gave us opportunity to talk honestly about aspirations, practical challenges & commercial practicalities.

Leaders & investors from both businesses were impressive. Clearly knowing their business, they maintained a healthy balance of enthusiasm to benefit from being more insightful with their customers plus scepticism for just theory or supplier pitches. On the last topic we had common cause and it was refreshing to talk without our conversation being sprinkled with the latest ‘in vogue’ buzzwords. This seemed to bear out our previous suggestion that retailers can learn from FS on customer insight as well as the vice versa that has happened for years.

My presentations covered the topics of both Holistic Customer Insight and Marketing Measurement. The former is an expansion of our most read post on this blog. The latter builds on this previous advice with regards to use of ROME. For those of you who were unable to make this event, or were not sure it would be relevant as you are not in the Retail sector, I have now uploaded my slides to my SlideShare presence. Feel free to comment or share from there.

In conversation with these experienced business leaders, it was interesting to see which topics proved if most interest and provoked the most questions. Two themes have stayed with me from that event:

  • How to get started and avoid initial high spend on data infrastructure (i.e. how do you start small and prove value through very focussed pilots?)
  • What is the best way to structure teams to achieve the accountability needed (across both Marketing & Insight)?

These are both good questions and relevant challenges for many businesses. The former reflects the approach that I personally took to grow a UK General Insurers CI team from nothing to 44 specialists generating over £10m pa incremental profit. Given there is such interest, I’ll talk to other CI leaders to find where we have common learning and share that in a subsequent post.

With regards to structure, we’ve shared some thoughts previously. However the wider question of how Marketing should be structured to make best use of insight & be accountable to robust costing & measurement is a good one. I’ll reflect on that topic and again chat with others across the industry who have wider experience of marketing leadership & the evolving world of marketing automation/marketing resource management.

So, more thoughts to come, but I’d also love to hear what you think on these issues. Have you taken an approach that worked for your growth?