Season 13 Episode 3
May 8, 2024

[STEP BY STEP] Data-Centric Decisions for Culturally-Relevant Brands

In this final episode of Step by Step Season 13, we sit down with Andy Judd and Liz Mayer to unpack the transformative power of data in shaping omnichannel strategies. This episode emphasizes the necessity of staying culturally relevant and adaptable to thrive in the ever-evolving eCommerce arena. Listen now!

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In this final episode of Step by Step Season 13, we sit down with Andy Judd and Liz Mayer to unpack the transformative power of data in shaping omnichannel strategies. This episode emphasizes the necessity of staying culturally relevant and adaptable to thrive in the ever-evolving eCommerce arena. Listen now!

In this episode:

  • {00:20:00} “I use the term ‘1000 points of light’ with my team because that's ultimately what you're trying to do: you're trying to take all of these pieces and say, okay, What does that show me? And what does that tell me?” - Andy
  • {00:35:48} “You can change the plan. You can change the actions, but don't change the vision. Don't change the goal.” - Liz
  • {00:25:34} “I think it's about finding those crosshatches of how I bring content to bear behind a really powerful cultural moment? And then underneath that is selling this, you know, anthemic story around the future of soda.” - Andy

Key Takeaways: 

  • To create a successful omnichannel strategy, brands should focus on aligning their growth ambitions with their sales and marketing strategies.
  • When considering different marketing channels, brands must have a clear understanding of their objectives and measurable goals.
  • The balance between technical expertise and creativity is crucial for executing a successful omnichannel marketing strategy.
  • Brands should prioritize cultural relevance and fluidity in their marketing efforts to connect with consumers meaningfully.
  • Empowering employees and trusting them to make data-driven decisions is key for adapting to changing consumer behaviors and cultural moments.

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Phillip: [00:00:10] This episode of Future Commerce is brought to you by Keen, the industry's only future facing media planning software powered by AI. Sign up for a free trial and see the Keen difference at Hello, and welcome to Step by Step, a podcast by Future Commerce, presented this 13th season with our partners, Keen Decision Systems. Brian, this is Season 13. And as it's coming to a close here in this 3rd episode we want to give you homework. What other companion seasons of Step by Step could our listeners go and check out to make a good pairing with this particular season about DTC growth?

Brian: [00:01:03] Yeah. I think it's super important to look at last season, actually, which I thought was fantastic, where we looked past the buzzwords to help understand exactly what kind of technology should be purchased to power experiences. And so there are some great tips I felt like in this season to help make decisions around the right pieces of technology without getting caught up in things that I think a lot of brands sometimes do get caught up in or at least have pushed on them by vendors.

Phillip: [00:01:31] Oh my gosh. Yeah. And that is totally the truth. And we actually spoke to a number of folks who I had the pleasure of being able to see them right at the beginning of their journey. I know one that you really loved was Litter-Robot and that family of brands now and how they've grown this really, actually, tech forward company and high AOV products and how they have a really...

Brian: [00:01:54] Jacob is pretty cool, too.

Phillip: [00:01:55] Yeah. Jacob is amazing and very honest,

Brian: [00:02:00] Yeah. Tru.

Phillip: [00:02:00] Extremely candid about the way that they purchase software and how software vendors sell software. That's what they do. And business owners, especially those in ecommerce every year, ecommerce just gets a little bit harder, that much more difficult. And so being really smart about your software investment is the game. And I think that pairs, you're right, very well with this 13th season here of Step by Step where we are examining how DTC is actually expanding and how digitally native and modern brands are moving past their origination channels, those ecommerce web channels into the world of full-on multi or even omnichannel retail. So, Brian, take us into it. What are we covering here today? What can we expect? And why is this one of the hottest brands right now?

Brian: [00:02:51] Well without giving away too much, it's Poppi.

Phillip: [00:02:55] Yeah. For sure.

Brian: [00:02:56] And I'm so excited. This is Episode 3 of 3 of this season. So if you haven't listened to the first two episodes, make sure you go back and listen to EEpisodes 1 and 2 with, Greg Dolan from Keen and also with Steven Siegel from Curology. Both phenomenal episodes. Worth your time, especially leading into this episode. Poppi, obviously, one of the darlings and biggest success stories coming out of modern brands and I think that they would even prefer to not even categorize themselves as a...

Phillip: [00:03:38] Yeah. Don't say that. We'll have to beep that out.

Brian: [00:03:41] The DTC word. Yeah. {laughter}

Phillip: [00:03:43] Beep it out. You can't say it.

Brian: [00:03:44] Yeah. Beep. Yeah. Oh, yeah. Totally. Beep it out. Edit me, Chris. {laughter} I think what was interesting is they started in a really modern way, but through unique channels. And they still had faced a lot of the same decisions that other modern brands face when picking how to expand, which channels to go into, when do we enter Costco, which is the question I had most burning on my mind going into this.

Phillip: [00:04:17] Oh, for sure.

Brian: [00:04:17] And so I think that this upcoming episode is one of the key pieces and understanding how to take those next steps and do it in a really smart way, so that you can capture all the demand possible. Maybe don't run that Super Bowl ad until you're in Costco, so that people can actually go action on the ad and investment that you made. And now I'm totally giving things away. But I am excited to get into this episode. Phillip, any thoughts about who this is for leading into the show?

Phillip: [00:04:51] And before I know you really hit there on Poppi. I think also, not to take any credit away from her, Liz Mayer, the Partner of Omnichannel Marketing and Unified Commerce over The Partnering Group has made a career out of advising brands of the scale and size of Poppi and above on how to get into a full scale omnichannel holistic business. That is what she does, and she is probably the most buttoned up and I'd say very thoughtful people when it comes to speaking about how brands can create a strategy and then actually action tactics against the strategy so that they can win in the long term.

Brian: [00:05:33] So true.

Phillip: [00:05:34] A lot of brands are still taking advice from LinkedIn and the broetry that gets written there. I think this is a really healthy dose of reality from the two of them here on this episode. But you asked, who is this for?  Really, this is for those who are trying to understand what the next channel to sell through is, and you're looking for a software that might help you make that decision and create more decision points to action against. And if you are looking for that software, Keen might be that software for you. And you can discern your next winning investment with a software like Keen, and that's what brings us here today.  Also, if you're the leader at a DTC brand or a large CPG or conglomerate that has a digitally native brand in your portfolio, this is probably right up your alley. If you're just a fan of Poppi, stick around. So, anyway, without any further ado Brian, should we just get into it?

Brian: [00:06:26] Yeah. Let's get into the conversation with Andy Judd, the CMO at Poppi, and Liz Mayer, the Partner of Omnichannel Marketing and Unified Commerce at The Partnering Group.

Liz: [00:06:43] Thank you.

Andy: [00:06:44] Thank you. Great to be here with you guys.

Phillip: [00:06:46] Yeah. And Liz not to undersell you in the opening. When you're thinking about your role and how you think about omnichannel marketing, what's different today than it has been in maybe the last couple years, especially as ecommerce has sort of changed in its definition for a lot of brands?

Liz: [00:07:05] That's a great question. So much has changed. It's like, what do you have time for? I think everything has changed. I think the way, at least sitting in this seat, the way that companies and brands think about their strategies have evolved, the way channels have evolved, the relevancy of channels. And I'm not just talking about channels in terms of retailers. I'm also talking about channels in terms of media. And then I think because strategies have continuously evolved in relation to and in response to technology and COVID and all of those things, and then the channels have evolved. Ultimately, people have evolved. Organizational structures and capabilities have evolved. And so I think it's all changed.

Phillip: [00:07:53] It's the one constant. It's the one constant.

Liz: [00:07:56] Yeah.

Phillip: [00:07:56] Speaking of change too, Andy... Poppi, congrats on all of the success. It's a household name. I remember picking up Poppi and being surprised for 3, 4 years ago. It's like, oh, it's at Whole Foods now. But now you're everywhere. Let's talk a little bit about the reframing of Poppi and sort of your brand messaging, how it's evolved over the last few years. And, specifically, maybe this idea of you came up during an era of DTC brand creation, and there's been some discourse about what side of the business you're sitting on and whether Poppi is a DTC brand or not. Give us a little bit of the background there.

Andy: [00:08:40] Yeah. So I'll start with a little bit of perspective to the business first, which is while we don't have a DTC business, per se, we do run a fairly heavy digital commerce business primarily through Amazon, and that was a lot of the early genesis for sales that we led to. And then as we grew, both more platforms from a digital commerce perspective and then ultimately into to retail, and now a more holistic omnichannel business is there. But I think the construct of how we grew is going to be a good conversation today around how to move from that digital space into an omnichannel space and what happens with the marketing mix as you go through that. And I think Poppi is largely a great case study for that, having started with a very heavy digital commerce space with a really, I would say, enticing and engaging social ecosystem on top of that. And then how did we begin to make the pivot to leverage both that same capability in social and then start stacking other components of the marketing mix on top of that? It makes for a nice, what looks linear from an outsider's perspective. It's definitely a lot of chaos on this side of it. But I think when I have a moment to step back and reflect on it, I think you can see the components and how they build together both the marketing model and the sales model, if you will, moving in concert together.

Brian: [00:10:19] Did you find that your strategy shifted and then the org kind of followed, or did you have to make changes to the org, and then that sort of started to shape your strategy? Or did they just kind of all work together in a really quantum like way? {laughter}

Andy: [00:10:36] Yeah. There's definitely some pragmatic design in this. And when you're in a high growth business, and I've been operating in high growth businesses for a little bit here, you're always moving through life stages at a really rapid manner. And because of that, your org has to evolve. Your strategy has to evolve. Your tactics have to evolve, and you build a culture that's really centered around that change at all times. And so to your direct question around the org itself, yeah. I mean, we are different. We've had ecommerce reporting to our CEO. Now reports back to me. We've flattened and then constricted it at different times. We've leveled up different roles at different times, and some of that is just because of the speed at which this particular brand is growing, you just have to really be thoughtful of, like, hey, what are the next three steps in front of me? And then be comfortable with I may skip one or two of those based on the trajectory of the business. I always draw out. If we were in a room, I'd draw out a whiteboard around when the slope is going at a pretty up and to the right level. What you see from that moment is hard because then you get up to the next moment and it's like, well, wait. That's a new trajectory and you have to evolve again. And so, yeah, it's definitely been a lot of chaos or what feels like chaos, but it's really just grabbing a hold of expedited growth and getting a culture that's comfortable, living in that world.

Brian: [00:12:17] I love that. Yeah.

Phillip: [00:12:19] Liz, you have such a wide perspective in that you see probably many brands that are at this inflection point in their growth. What is true from your perspective around this shift from single channel, maybe ecommerce or Amazon focused brands that are sort of now becoming more omnichannel and some of their maturation processes? And how often do they look like what Poppi's describing and what Andy's describing around their maturation?

Liz: [00:12:50] Well, it's interesting. I would say it's like, where do I start? I think ultimately, in terms of evolution, every business, every brand, every company is on a different strategy or excuse me, a different place. With how mature their brands are, with how mature their capabilities are, with where they want to go and how fast they want to go and where do they want to grow and how fast they want to grow. I think what I've seen is really just this emphasis on ensuring that that digital commerce acumen and that digital brand acumen is a lot more embedded across all of the functions versus just relegated to a center of excellence. And I think, whether you're dealing with a brand that... If you're dealing with a brand that's more digitally native, they're opposite. It's like, okay. Everybody knows the digital ecosystem. What we need to learn is how to start behaving more like a traditional consumer packaged goods. And then within the CPG space, the more mature brands are actually looking at those digitally native businesses and they're like, how do I get to that? Which I think is really interesting. It's like the scarecrow from The Wizard of Oz where it's like pointing in both directions. And so what I think is really important is for ultimately the brands and the companies who are doing it well are saying, where do I want to be? Where do I want to grow? Okay. And then once they define their growth ambition and ensure that the growth ambition is actually vetted, that it's actually possible. What's organic versus what's incremental? What does that growth ambition look like? Then where is the growth going to come from? Is it going to come from new channel proliferation? Is it going to come from brand expansion? Is it going to come from media and marketing? What are those growth levers? And then it's ensuring that the structures are in place to support the strategies around those growth drivers. I feel like that is however fast that goes, those are the key elements that I believe are creating brands that are winning today. Because they might be nimble, they might be changing. It's not necessarily the change that's the issue, it's when companies confuse a structural change with a business change itself, and they haven't done the work on the strategy piece and they haven't gotten alignment or really made informed forecasts in relation to their ambition, something like we want to grow 3% in ecommerce. Okay. Well, where? What in ecommerce? Where, how, what's going to help? Can we do that? Can we do that with our brands today? Can we do that with the assortment today? You know, those are the elements that I think are separating the leaders from the lagers, in my opinion.

Brian: [00:16:28] I think this plays back to something that you said, Andy, where you said that you had to leapfrog moments in the linear process in order to get there. So you're coming from maybe the digitally native side. There are other brands coming from the traditional CPG side. But on both accounts, often, in order to actually go achieve that "growth target," it's like, okay. How do you do that? Okay. Maybe it's not so linear to get there. What kinds of indicators or data would you look at? Would it be historical data of the performance of what Poppi has done, or would it be looking out into the market and seeing what was happening in the market and assessing where you felt like you could fit in even though you didn't really have any prior experience in those places?

Andy: [00:17:17] Yeah. I mean, we have built a very culture first brand, in a lot of ways. And so a lot of our marketing efforts have to move at the speed of culture. And because of that kind of, let's say, foundational focus, our data management also is built around a notion of speed of change and what's happening. And I'll be the first to openly admit there is not a perfect dataset. And I think a lot of brands fall into that trap where they're hoping that one data set is going to create some enlightenment for them that's going to solve a challenge. And the truth is there's so much art and data interpretation because of how many different platforms, how many different methodologies. I mean, for example on the data front, I've got a last touch attribution model. I've got an MMM. I've got media mix modeling. I've got all of our platform KPIs, whether it's Amazon, our website, whatever, you name it. There are so many tracking surveys, consumption data, panel data, retail POS. There are so many different pieces of data coming together that I think the harder part is building a culture that is flexible, that there may one, there's a lot of data. Two, some of that data may be in conflict to each other. And three, taking an artistic view sometimes of what that data does and how that then propels you to make change. On your question around forwards looking, backwards looking, yes.  I think that is the truth. Having a a perspective to what's happened behind you is helpful. Obviously, the landscape, whether that's a media marketplace or a digital selling marketplace, is evolving at all points. So sometimes there's a relevancy issue that comes with a lot of historical perspective. And then in a high growth brand if I were to tell you where we were two years ago, we're fundamentally different brands. Where we were in our life stage as a brand and where we were in our development even in an offline world was very different. So I think it does become hard to have a backwards looking view to things, but I do think you have to take it into consideration amongst the billions of other pieces of information to do that. But culturally, it's important to just be flexible. Yeah. I use the term a 1000 points of light with my team all the time because that's ultimately what you're trying to do. You're trying to take all of these pieces and say, okay, What does that show me? And what does that tell me?

Phillip: [00:20:14] Can I... Well, I didn't expect a George W Bush quote, but there...

Andy: [00:20:19] It's HW.

Phillip: [00:20:20] Sorry. Yes.

Andy: [00:20:21] Yes.

Phillip: [00:20:23] There's something that I feel like you have been on a real winning streak from Poppi's marketing perspective. And maybe it's just because I'm paying more attention now. The last few months I would say so you did a pop-up on Melrose, I believe.

Andy: [00:20:45] Correct.

Phillip: [00:20:45] Sort of like a theme store activation that's like a timed activation. It's not still there. Right?

Andy: [00:20:49] No.

Phillip: [00:20:49] Okay. So you're creating moments for the brand, which creates incredible media and certainly helps push the brand and the aesthetic forward. You're also leaning into sort of countercultural messaging, like the future is soda, which seems very specific, and very countercultural to what you may hear from, you know health gurus on Instagram. And I'm curious where there's always a trade off of you have to say some no to something to say yes to something else. What are you saying no to, and how are you quantifying what to say no to to say yes to these types of moments for the brand? How do you measure their impact for you and what's the attribution window look like? How long are you looking but to see things like this where one is a new reframing of, not to put words in your mouth, seems like a reframing of the way that you're talking about your category. And the other is a short lived moment that elevates an experience and how people picture it. Let's think about that for a moment, Andy.

Andy: [00:21:57] Yeah. So I'll key in. I'm going to answer the second part of that, and then I'll come back to the how do we plan out where we're going to activate, more around the valuation. Not every marketing vehicle has to do everything. Right? And I think the way we think about what we do from a brand act perspective... So you mentioned our Poppi Mart pop-up we did in LA right before the Grammys, which was our view of what the future of bodegas and C store environment would look like. And we're telling a cultural story around where we think soda consumption is going to go in the future, all aligned to a broader campaign that we're doing called the Future of Soda is Now. And so there's this kind of anthemic message we're telling. But the pop-up itself wasn't necessarily going to be the thing that drove massive reach on a household level. What it did do incredibly well is it built even richer and deeper engagement amongst a really powerful cohort that then could go and advocate on our behalf to create that reach. And I think understanding, hey, what is the expectation of the thing that I'm doing and how will that play out behaviorally for a consumer, I think is really important. Liz talked about that earlier with, like, well, how? How are you going to do that? Right? How are you going to grow an ecommerce business? Like, what is the thing? And I think you have to look at your marketing activation in the same way. It was like, what do you expect the consumer is going to do when they engage with you in this manner? And so, one, I think evaluating each component of the mix requires you to say, okay, what do I expect to happen, and then what are the KPIs that I'm measuring back to your data question, as well. Then as we think to your first part of your question around how do we build our calendar and what are we doing and the surge that we felt and we have definitely felt it's been an incredible first few months to 2024 for this brand. You know, we are obviously thinking about where is culture going to happen. And the collision of what we can find are those moments where culture and our brand makes sense. And then how can we do that in a way that's different than the rest of the marketplace, to really generate incremental earned reach on anything and everything we do? Again, that's social native component of our business DNA, whether that was the Poppi Mart and having Paris Hilton be our DJ at that and bringing a ton of influencers into that and having a great event sparked a ton. But I will tell you what really got sparked was a five block line two days later. We had people coming in from Hawaii and driving from Arizona and Oregon because they saw the event two days prior that then led to an incredible in real life direct to consumer connection point. Or we're on the heels of Coachella here, and we took a very different approach where we weren't going to do some big thing, but we focused on one influencer, in particular, and made almost borderline a moment where we could have a reality like TV show to that center points that and created a little differential level of entertainment behind that because Coachella as an event has been kind of retreading its activation front. So [00:25:34] I think it's about just finding those crosshatches of how do I bring content to bear behind a really powerful cultural moment? And then underneath that is selling this anthemic story around the future of soda. [00:25:47] That's a lot of marketing-ese. I just threw at you guys. I know, but it is a bit of everything everywhere all at once, to say the least.

Brian: [00:25:56] Andy, when you said you felt the surge over the past couple months, I love the reference to that historic soda moment of the nineties. {laughter} Liz, I want to flip this over to you. I think, Andy, your answer around this is dead on. Liz, when you're helping your brands and clients make decisions around where to activate and some of the decisions that Andy was just talking about. What are some of the criteria that you walk your clients through when you're talking about what channels to be in and how to start to go to market with some of these different activations and tactics?

Liz: [00:26:36] I would say it's a few things. I think in terms of the approach that I always use, it's always really understanding well, first off, what are you saying you want to do? What is the objective that you stated? You know, in terms of the role of marketing to do? And then what did you then implement? What are the things that you say you want to do and then what are you actually doing? You would be surprised how often we see brands wanting to grow households and wanting to grow household penetration, and yet where they are spending and their implementation, their activations are all about driving more consumption and driving more frequency and driving more with the consumers that are already buying them. Right? And so a lot of times, I'm in a position where I hear one thing and then when we get in and we look at their mix and we look at their activations, we see something completely different. I think some of that has to do with the evolution of different media channels. And when we're talking more, I'll take us more into the lens of retail, digital media, and the digital shelf. Managing a television brand campaign you do a lot of the research, you do a lot of the creative testing. You do the concept. You do all of those things and then you put it out and you let it go for like six months to a year and then you revise and you revise and you revise, maybe. But when you're talking about the digital shelf, it is something that is changing every day. You need to really get very, very granular in the ecosystem that you're playing in because what's going to win on Amazon is going to be very different than what's going to win on Walmart, on Target. And the role that the media and the content play are very different things. And what I actually see is a lot of the brands that I deal with and clients, they really want to win in their investments and they want this powerful ROI. But when they go about implementing, they might not be giving their agency the direction or they might not be holding accountability to that very granular surgical management required to win in some of those retail ecosystems. The creative campaign development, the events, those are the fun things. Those are the things that a lot of people are in marketing for those types of activations. When you get into more of the retail digital media, the digital shelf, it's about keywords. It's about understanding the category. It's about understanding the ancillary categories that is somebody might be buying your brand who might not be buying it in store. You know, it's understanding those fundamentals. It's a different skill set, and it's also a different level of activation and then a different understanding in terms of measurement and optimization. So I gave a lot there, but I think for me, it's like to summarize, it's about what do you want to do? Okay. And how are you measuring that? What are you actually doing? And is that footing back? And if there's alignment there. And then in relation to how you're looking and optimizing, are your data and is your reporting set up to even enable you to do what you need to do to understand at what point you can change it up or that you've met and you can move on. You met your objective and you can move on, if that makes sense.

Andy: [00:30:12] Yeah. I'd love to echo a comment in there that will reference back to an earlier question that Brian had around the org structures. There is this delicate balance between the technical wherewithal that you have to have in order to execute against all the different platforms that you have to do, and balancing that with the right creativity to generate the breakthrough in any one of those different places along the way. And I think there are some organizations that fall into the trap of one of those sides, and they forget that it does require both of them to win effectively. And Liz, I don't know if that's where you're going, but I couldn't help but hear that. And I've seen a lot of organizations particularly when it comes to performance marketing, if I can use a bad word. I don't know if you guys bleep this out or not later, but it's a family friendly show. Okay. Performance marketing. Yeah. I'll say it again. But there are a lot of companies that fall into the trap because, one, there is a specific skill set, technical skill set, to execute against a lot of those paradigms, but sometimes if you lean too far, then you lose someone, to Liz's point, that has a perspective of behavioral change and a broader marketplace. And it's a tough trap because, obviously, the affordability to do all those from a business perspective, on a G&A, it's hard. It's hard work. It really is hard to find that right balance, and I think you gotta figure out what do I need in this life stage, what can I afford in this life stage, and then what's the next one look like and how would that change?  And I don't sometimes like that change is pretty profound going from one life stage to the next, because maybe I needed someone really technically savvy on retention marketing at this life stage. But when I got to the next life stage, my business was 80% something else. I didn't need that skill set. And it's a really fine line of how do you balance org with channel philosophy versus all of that mix of things. I don't know if that's, Liz, where you are headed with some of your commentary, but that just struck me.

Liz: [00:32:45] Well, I think the thing is too is it's what is your vendor and partner strategy as you're developing as a brand. Right?  I mean, I would suggest that any brand regardless of the size needs to have a very clearly articulated data strategy with where they are today and where they're trying to go, and the data strategy should ultimately evolve. Right? And as part of the data strategy, I'm not just talking about the types of data you need, the types of tools you need, the types of processes. You know, it's also, what are the people relationships? What do you want your people to do? And can you do that with the staff that you have? Or do you need to augment with a different service provider or an agency? And I think that's also very important. There are some things that you should probably outsource and you might be better off in terms of some of those creative elements and the creative strategy depending on where your business is. But then there are other things that if you're going to do that, what are you going to do internally? And how do you balance the jobs to be done with the talent that you have and where you want to go? I think that is also a major opportunity for a lot of brands.

Phillip: [00:33:55] So what's really powerful about this conversation that we just had is it seems like it's applicable, the lessons here and some of the learnings, if I'm allowed to use that word which has been hotly debated in in social media. If you could apply this to every stage of growth, but what I feel is there seems to be some pressure in especially in digital media and digital commerce is this constant state of growth does require yes, cultural insight, but it also feels like you wind up chasing what you believe cultural insight to be at your stage of growth actually is a handful of tips and tricks. It's marketing tactics that are ephemeral. And what I'm hearing is that to get to learn lessons early on, it takes a lot of deliberation in creating a plan and then sticking with the plan and being true to what you feel like you've outlined and created together as a team for you to go out and execute the plan. And that's where maybe a lot of folks that are trying to get into grow up into the omnichannel maturation phase is it requires having to spend many plates all at once, and that's not a skill they've learned in the business because there's not a lot of trust in the organization because they've been busy chasing a lot of things. So, Liz, I'm curious, one, if you could give me a little reaction to that and maybe as it pertains to chasing channels because I know it's very trendy today. And then maybe, Andy, we can come back for you for a follow-up.

Liz: [00:35:38] Yeah. So I think there's a little bit of an adage that I live by in my own personal life, which is,  [00:35:48]you can change the plan. You can change the actions, but don't change the vision. Don't change the goal. [00:35:56] Right? If the goal is well informed and the objective is something that is truly desirable... And I'm probably being a little earthy and crunchy here. But if it's a vision then it deserves the effort and the plans. However, be prepared that planning is only half of it and planning, I know everyone loves a good old long range plan. I get it. A good old three to five year growth plan, but what's ultimately really important is what are you doing in the next 12 weeks? What are you doing then and how are you breaking down the plan into the seasons of your shopper, the seasons of what's happening in the media, what's happening around them so that you're contextually relevant to them? But then you're also looking at what is bright and shiny, and then understanding ultimately and trying to define what is tried and true. And then as you're putting in those new actions, as you're focusing on those new initiatives and strategies, where are you starting to get the hang of things that you don't warrant that strategic approach anymore and it just becomes a part of your run model. And so that's kind of the approach that I like to see clients start evolving to, and it's natural for so many because they plan on quarters. Oh, I gotta meet my quarter number. You know, I gotta meet... And I see that happening on the financial side of things and as they're reporting numbers, but what I don't necessarily see that on is the capability side of things, the formal testing and learning side of things, the formalizing of the optimization, those quarterly spreads where you're taking things and you're learning and testing and then you're evolving in that next quarter. And you're still staying true to your vision, but you're doing in a different way with a lot more flexibility and fluidity. And I think in doing that, if there is something, and I love what Andy's done with Poppi. There is something that is very very relevant that your brand just has to be a part of, then you figure that out. But you're always thinking in terms of where are we now? Where is our shopper now? Our consumer now? How do we drive seasonally relevant content and engagements? But then also, are we meeting our business goals? Is this bright and shiny, or is this tried and true? And then what does this mean for the next quarter and the next quarter and the next quarter?

Andy: [00:38:34] I mean, we're all playing in the same marketplace. So, yeah, I think the application, whether you're scaled or sub scaled and and hoping to get there, you're dealing with all those spinning plates all the same. Right? That's just the truth of the evolving marketplace that we live in. I think it's the, I love the commentary there on planning. Our plan this year changed pretty dramatically in early February. And you know, when the second that Super Bowl spot aired, it's almost a BC/AD paradigm to what happened because our entire marketing mix, even our media mix, every component of it changed then. And we had to be ready for that reality. And so I think you can have a plan, but I think the plans really have to be fluid because we didn't know 100% what would happen after that moment, but we knew it would be different. And since then, even here we are two months later, our business has evolved in those last 60 days. Our marketing mix has evolved in those last 60 days, as well. So I think you just have to have a vision towards that and then anchor towards that. I haven't operated in large organizations in a while, but I have worked enough in them around this quarterly paradigm, and that's hard sometimes. That is the hard part, which is, like, being able to allow the technicians to have authority to make transitions when they need to because of what they're seeing and their marketplace view of the world, there's an element of control that's really hard for a lot of organizations to get our to get around. If you see, I don't know, Instacart taking off in a moment, does that technician have the authority to ramp up and capture what may be happening in the platform at that moment, and do they have the authority to do it? Do they have the ability to enlighten others? Is the CMO or whoever may be in more senior authority able to allocate more and change the phasing across quarters to capture that moment? That's the hard part, as well as how do I allow for my system to have flexibility in real time?

Brian: [00:41:18] That's so huge. Being able to have data that will actually drive decision making in the moment, that's, I think, what every company in this digitally enabled age should be striving for. Because if you miss those opportunities as they come up and you just let them pass you by and you don't have flags or organizational measures to be able to be responsive to those, then you're going to miss out on the Stanley Cup moments. Right? Where you don't know exactly when those are going to pop up. And if you don't have the flexibility to address them, you're going to miss out on a lot of money.

Phillip: [00:41:58] Can I actually draw, I just want to make sure that we're speaking about congruences here? Like, a viral social media trend costs almost nothing but the will of a business to participate in. A new channel, a nascent channel where you have no data, no testing, no competitors, not even sure if your customers are there, that seems a little riskier. Do you hold out budget for such a thing? And how do you reorient your media marketing mix for that sort of a test and learn, I guess, is the question.

Liz: [00:42:40] I think brands that are doing it well, I think, first, if it's a larger company with a multiple portfolio of brands, or a house of brands, I actually think it's ensuring that they have a clear portfolio strategy of what is the role of the brand and where are we willing to take risks. And I think getting alignment and starting there. Because then to your point, really getting clear on where are we willing to risk and where do we need our cash cow and just our stability and making that decision in the upfront is really important. And then I think from there once the roles of the brands are determined, I think it is about looking at your budget and ensuring that you have a percentage that's going to the things that are proven, that are tried and true, that you know you're going to need to do, you're going to have to do really to drive those KPIs, whether they're informed by marketing mix or whether you just it's like this is what we're going to need to do to get started. Then a smaller percentage say on a more aggressive brand, maybe it's 30 to 40% of, you know test and learn. Right? It's a little bit more where you could take the risk and then that other percentage. And I'm probably not doing my math right. But another percentage always needs to be enabling cultural responsiveness and cultural readiness and enabling every brand as long as you care about the brand to be culturally relevant and to understand what conversations, what social commentary do we want to be a part of, do we want to have a PoE on, or do we want to be relevant in? And I think every brand needs to consider that social currency as not something separate, but as part of your brand identity. And so if you can get the tried and true down and you can ensure that that cultural relevancy piece is almost carved out as something because you plan it a little bit differently. It takes a different skill set. It's a little bit more responsive, ideally, versus not just reactive. Then those new vendors, new technologies, new things you put the risk where you can take the risk. And then you offset some of that risk with the tried and true on maybe more of those stable businesses that will generate any loss is really how I've seen it done well.

Phillip: [00:44:57] Thank you so much to the both of you. I think we could spend so much more time discussing this because one of the things that you all may not realize is Future Commerce for a long time, this is our 8th year of creating media for those in the ecommerce ecosystem, and a lot of shiny objects have come and gone in eight years. And early on, it was really heavily geared towards technology, and technology innovation was the future of commerce. And what we figured out three or four years ago, especially post-pandemic, is actually, technology has really stopped innovating in the ecommerce space, in particular. And where we see a lot of innovation is in people understanding the cultural insights and going to where culture is moving to. And so what we say is commerce is culture. We create brands that create and participate in culture with our customers, and that is a collaborative process. So this is probably the geekiest moment for Brian and I to have this conversation with you both. And thank you so much. I think just to get really specific though is in order to continue to have that cultural discourse with your customer and be there in those moments, you have to have a sustainable business. To be Stanley Cup and have a car set on fire and have a viral moment, you have to be in business for a 119 years first. That's the hard part. So, yeah, I'll give you both an opportunity here to sort of weigh in too. How are you looking right now to employ these more data-centric versus intuition-centric approaches in your business in order to power yourself through to the end of the year and for the brands Liz, that you manage, and the leaders that you advise? How are you advising them to continue to invest in insights versus intuition?

Andy: [00:46:56] I hope I'm going to give you the perspective you're looking for in the question. You have to build a team that is culturally, internal culture in this case, ready to move whenever they need to in order to harness the power of whatever that cultural moment is, whether that's a viral cultural moment like the one you described or a broader cultural moment, i.e The Super Bowl. Your organization has to be ready to flip, but it also has to be technically sound to be able to execute that flip flawlessly. Meaning, for us, my digicom team, which is media, digital commerce, retail, and marketplaces, they have to be able to change and be so technically sound that they can implement that change through the necessary platforms at any one time, but also be flexible enough to know, like, I know this doesn't make mathematical sense. This doesn't make sense to the data, but the cultural moment is what's making sense, and they have to be able to do that. And for some, that's a hard wiring to be sound and fluid all at the same time. To me, I think that's where it is. And the reality is like, if you bet on those cultural moments, right I think they're sometimes there's like, I fall prey to this as well. We sometimes think about like, oh, well, if someone's shopping at Walmart or someone's going into a store, well, that's like what they do. And I'm sure Liz could back me up on this. I hope I'm not going to say something and she'll be like, "That's not true at all. He's full of it." But consumers are also wildly fluid in their shopping behaviors and moving all over the place. So if you're not approaching culture as the DNA of communication and how to connect with the consumer, because you're so focused on the different channels, the reality is yeah, you're never going to see incrementality because you're probably not living up to the fluidity of the consumer shopping pattern anyway. So I think to me, it's about having that cultural instinct of I can move the organization whenever we need to jump on whatever that cultural moment is because we're technically sound to be able to execute it with excellence. And having those two pieces is ultimately, that's how I think we're winning, full shout outs if my team listens to this. They are incredible at what they do. And Poppi would not be where it is if we didn't have incredible leaders and incredible talent at every level in our organization to be able to move through monster cultural moments like a pop-up or like a Super Bowl or like a Coachella moment overall. So big shout out to the Poppi team.

Liz: [00:49:52] I would say at the end of the day we've talked a lot about data. We've talked a lot about tech. We've talked a lot about processes. We've talked a lot about strategy. But I think what Andy said is true. It's about ensuring that your people are empowered and that you trust them via your investment and capabilities and the development that you do with them in order for them to deliver and make changes. If they have to go through a command line of five to six individuals to respond to a social comment, then the cultural relevancy is going to get lost because shoppers and consumers are moving faster. And teams need to be trained and upskilled to recognize the signals. Because the signals aren't happening at a semi-annual marketing mix analysis meeting. They are happening every day. And the more sophisticated the tech, the data, yeah, that'll help. But really empowering people to do their jobs and to make the right moves and trusting them is going to be the game changer to drive relevancy for the brand in the long term and employee happiness and engagement as well.

Phillip: [00:51:01] I think that that really sums it up. Right, Brian? I think one of the real challenges in how you get there is, yeah, to enable people to have this sort of trust in an organization and to have built a team that's built on trust, you have to have common sources of truth. And you have to have common tools that everybody can agree that you can all see the world through the same lens. And that, I think, is what we have through this season's partner. Thanks so much to Keen for making it happen. And thank you so much to the both of you for spending so much of your time helping other brands to see around the next corner. It's been wonderful.

Brian: [00:51:43] Thank you both.

Andy: [00:51:44] My pleasure. Thanks, guys.

Liz: [00:51:46] Thanks for the opportunity.

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