Post-COVID-19 Planning: What Marketing Leaders Need to Consider Now
Vineet Mehra, Global CMO at Walgreens Boots Alliance led a recent CMO Club Virtual Roundtable around planning for a post-COVID-19 world. Mehra touched on how his role has changed, how to prepare your business for the future, and new priorities for CMOs.
How the CMO role had changed since COVID-19
The CMO role has been undergoing massive change in recent years. COVID-19 has forced marketing leaders to double down on those things that embody the modern CMO. Mehra shared what has changed for his role over the past two months and what he is seeing across the industry.
- Customer advocacy is top priority
- CMOs should be thinking about what issues their customers are facing today, how they can solve them, and what technology is needed to do it
- CMOs are shifting focus from creative agencies to technology partners
- Technology solutions that were previously long term plans are needed today
- CMOs are asking their agency partners to put customer data and automation technology at the center of their offering — it’s less about creative and media services and more about creating 1:1 customer connections
- Brands will be shifting agencies to compensation based on outcomes vs. hourly work
“I’m spending more time with our technology partners and our CIO than with my creative agency right now.” – Vineet Mehra
Behaviors that will stick
Mehra said the recessionary impact in the US and UK is top of mind as Walgreens and Boots think about moving forward post-COVID. With unemployment around 13% and underemployment at 20-35% in the U.S., marketing leaders need to think about how to recession-proof their brands in this new forced digital environment.
- Choosing the right offering in the recessionary environment
- The economic downturn will disproportionately affect younger consumers because of the industries experiencing the most job loss. Millennials, GenX, and, to a lesser degree, boomers will be hit the hardest
- Accelerating digital infrastructure is becoming the top investment
- 20% of people who online shopped in the last two weeks did it for the 1st time (April 2020) — A 20% penetration shift in behavior change. The previous shift took 5-10 years
- The future will include fewer physical stores, and they will be a part of an integrated omnichannel journey
- Data-driven consumer feedback
- First-party data, comparing pre-and post-COVID analytics, will help brands understand customer trends and will be undeniable to the c-suite when justifying decisions
- Search and purchase data allows marketers to make smarter merchandising decisions
It’s not so much that the industry is changing, but the changes there were already in motion have been accelerated.
- Personalization engines and customer data platforms are needed to drive marketing at 1:1 level and leverage data
- Personalization is the absolute must-have and budgets will be re-arranged to make room
- Organizations will be restructured
- New roles will be created for the modern marketing function. As organizations hire employees back after downsizing or furloughing, it’s a chance to bring in new capabilities like predictive data science, product analytics, performance marketing, and e-commerce.
- CMO+ role
- The modern CMO will always be “thinking in the languages of experiences” and considering what technology investments are needed to map to the experience launches
“We’re literally redrafting and reconnecting how our technology investments map need to the experience launches we have to do… and so we need to really start thinking in the language of experiences.” – Vineet Mehra
Listen to the full Virtual Roundtable as Mehra expands on these key themes and gives examples of how brands can connect purpose with commerce.