NZ Food & Grocery Council

November 14, 2013

Presentation Summary

Kevin Roberts delivers the opening keynote presentation to the New Zealand Food & Grocery Council at its annual conference in the Gold Coast. In his speech, Kevin spoke about the Unreasonable Power of Creativity, the importance of leadership, and the power that emotion has in appealing to customers and turning from a brand into a Lovemark.

NZ Food Grocery Council

Opening Keynote to NZ Food & Grocery Council Annual Conference.

I don’t often get asked back. I remain in VUCA-mode


The year has been peppered with reputational crises. A VUCA world indeed…or is it?


SuperVUCA is driven by one thing. The Unreasonable Power of Creativity. You have an imperative to innovate and not to fall back into the obviousness and ease of trade promotions, like a crocodile rolling you to the bottom.

Take these three examples of great ideas that reframe and refresh.

Walgreens, the biggest drug-store chain in the U.S. – which collects one in five U.S. pharmacy dollars – on Oct 1 posted an 86% increase in profit for the recent quarter, which it attributed principally to a new loyalty program that grants discounts to customers based on how much they exercise. Sweat equity in action!

The company now has 85 million people enrolled in its loyalty program, launched about a year ago, and boasts that it is the fastest-growing such initiative in the world.

The New York Times launched a campaign on behalf of the alpha vegetable Broccoli. They launched a movement: Extreme Brocking.

Thus was born the fictitious Broccoli Commission of America. Step one: pick a fight with kale. Slogans include:

“Broccoli: Now 43 Percent Less Pretentious Than Kale”

“What Came First, Kale or the Bandwagon?”

“Goes Great With a Side of Steak”

Picking on kale — rather than on, say, French fries — was especially brilliant because it mimicked the Great Cola Wars between Coke and Pepsi, a battle that greatly enhanced the bottom lines of both companies.

And SuperVUCA reigned when we plumbed an entire house with Tui – 6.8 million YouTube views and counting.

Killer challenges demand killer solutions. One of the things I want to offer you today is our latest global thinking on the elements of great retail advertising across all media – digital and mobile, television – forever strong – outdoor and instore.

I know many of you have constrained advertising budgets, that your advertising is controlled by Australia etc etc – these are not constraints for not having original ideas and executing inexpensively. Indeed the reverse is true. Necessity is the mother of invention.

The first set of insights are that successful creative ideas are generated by people and brands that are:

  • humorous, empathetic and honest
  • open about their quirks and peccadilloes
  • offer up a knowing smile

If VUCA is why you have a PR company, SuperVUCA is why you have an advertising agency. Imagine you are a boring commodity air conditioner with a tiny budget and an awareness problem.

Now…big data. Is Big Data the new nirvana? You’re all asking questions, is this the perfect marketing moment?

Gartner says that by 2017 the CMO will spend more on IT than the CIO. God forbid… We’re in an era of data mining, excavating, crunching, modeling, measuring, predicting, visualizing, automating, tracking, sensing, monitoring, targeting and deciding. Makes you exhausted. Big Data plays at every decision points in every industry, purchase through to performance.

BUT…Big Data needs Big Love, because algorithms will never read and respond to humans – the way humans do.

The Big Data machine can read the lines, but not between them. Big Data can turn up at the perfect moment, but not ignite it. It can spit out stories based on what came before, but it can’t dream the difference that builds loved brands.

In the crunch, the crazies break through. Spock to Kirk: “Captain, we are checkmated.” Kirk to Spock: ‘Not Chess Mr Spock – poker. Do you know the game?’…And mothers with their second babies certainly do.

Love can’t do without logic because it will never reach its potential. Albert Einstein once said: “Any man who can drive safely while kissing a pretty girl is simply not giving the kiss the attention it deserves.”

Three further insights:

  • Pay great attention to detail in the storytelling to allow the emotion to carry the rational
  • How you say it is as important as what you say
  • Humor is all powerful – did I mention this before?

I was asked to talk about how advertisers on small budgets effectively communicate. I’ll turn this on head and ask: how do consumers with small budgets want to be communicated to?

We published “Winning the Heart of the New American Shopper” in 2013, revealing the spending behavior of households with annual incomes of $50,000 or less, and how brands and retailers can win during uncertain times. This explores motivations that drive purchase decisions for this important segment of shoppers.

The key finding is that spending behavior in these households is driven by strong emotional needs such as to feel in-control in the face of financial uncertainty, to provide loved ones with insulation from the negative consequences of financial insecurity, and to maintain personal identity in an ever-changing economy.

While the importance of the right price in driving purchase for these shoppers can’t be overstated, there exists powerful emotional needs they are seeking to fulfill.

This isn’t an either-or situation – effective retail solutions will address both of these needs. The study emboldens brands and retailers to develop deliberate shopper marketing strategies to meet the needs of households earning less than $50,000.

We established principles for fulfilling the deep-seated emotional needs of shoppers in tough times. These empower differentiation in a “sea of sale” by providing today’s shoppers with ideas, solutions, products, and experiences. The aim not to deliver price…but priceless value.

Imperative #1: Inspire shoppers to feel in control

  • Brands and retailers can provide shoppers with a sense of control by partnering with them to maintain quality of life in an insecure job and economic environment.
  • Prove that you care: show your support with communications, experiences, and product solutions that show her you “get” her needs and aspirations.
  • Help her feel savvy: empower your shopper by providing her with more value and better solutions than she thinks she can afford.

Imperative #2: Help shoppers to insulate loved ones

  • Many shoppers with incomes less than $50,000 need to protect and shelter loved ones from the negative effects of financial insecurity. Brands and retailers can be valued partners in reducing social stigma, conflict, and anxiety.
  • Be accessible and a no-nonsense solution
  • Make them proud: give her family solutions they can feel good about or even show off; find ways for your brand to be inexpensive and desirable.

Imperative #3: Empower shoppers to express their identity

  • Brands and retailers can enable shoppers to express who they aspire to be.
  • Connect your brand with her aspirations within her means.
  • Have a point-of-view: establish a clear vision she can embrace and promote.

All of this leads to Lovemarks, you all know this, 101, the Love Respect Axis: Product, Fads, Brands, Lovemarks.

In the case of cars, 65% of a purchase decision is influenced by emotion, in the case of breakfast cereals 75% of decisions, and for magazines, 85%.

In Cereal brands, Lovemarks are consumed four times more than ‘brands,’ and 25 times more than mere ‘products‘. You would not believe how brutal consumers are.

We are all desperate to be in premium margin territory. How do you move the discount-drunk, brand-agnostic New Zealand shoppers of whom 59% purchase groceries on promotion!

Emotion creates premiums – across volume, share, margin, reputation… brands that are loved are consumed more and have higher future buying intent than brands, fads or commodities.

Reason leads to conclusions. Emotion leads to actions.

And this action can be all manner of expression. Ritual gestures and small personal pre-consumption ceremonies, for example, are a doorway to premiums. In a trial, people who performed a ritual before eating a chocolate bar were ready to pay an extra 25 cents for it. Ritualizing consumers savor the product for longer. Ritual masters include Oreo (twist, lick, dunk), Corona (lime wedge in the neck), and Haagen Dazs…

Here’s where Lovemarks is headed. A cutting edge research technology company in Toronto has taken Lovemarks theory, research and cases and turned it into data rich emotional heatmaps of consumers. The Love Respect Axis looks rudimentary against this type of mapping that is now possible. We can do an emotional balance sheet of each and every brand, historically or in real time, we can look for strengths and opportunities as well as weaknesses and paths to avoid.

Saatchi Creative learnings set 3:

  • Turning the ordinary into the extraordinary
  • Casting and use of music to own emotion, engagement, salience and clarity
  • Show real and virtual worlds colliding
  • People like technology but people mostly really like people

For the balance of my time I want to focus on Leadership, this is my passion, you are all leaders, so let’s talk as leaders. I have 10 learnings to offer you about Inspirational Leadership, many of them extracted from the All Blacks whose current conquering finesse will become the stuff of legends – depending on how Saturday goes!

1. Inspirational Leaders Change the Language

Revolution begins with language; leaders invent their own language, a system of meaning, a vocabulary that binds everyone. Purpose is absolute. Many of you are exporters. The purpose of New Zealand is “To Win the World from the Edge.”

Through storytelling, they create a sense of purpose and intention; storytelling helps leaders connect people’s personal meaning to a shared vision of the future.

All Black’s language: Champions do extra, Bleed for the jersey, Be a great All Black, No opposition is more intimidating than the legacy

Apple language: Stay hungry. Stay foolish; Why join the navy when you can be a pirate?; Insanely great; Think different; Click. Boom. Amazing!

‘Perpetual Optimism Is A Force Multiplier.’- Colin Powell

2. Inspirational Leaders are radical optimists

Conceive, believe. Achieve. Visualize to actualize. “To be the best rugby team there has ever been.”

3. Inspirational Leaders surprise with the obvious

Here’s a great FMCG challenge. The rise of the modern man. We’re always talked about the consumer as a “she” but men are increasingly taking over the grocery shopping and involving themselves in the kitchen and household cleaning.

In America, 52% of fathers now identify themselves as the primary grocery store shopper, while 41% of all family cooking is now being led by dads.

In addition to this, men are remaining single longer in developed nations, so they are accustomed to meeting their own needs. Some supermarkets are experimenting with “man-aisles” – otherwise known as “miles” – locations in the store which feature male oriented foods and other products (e.g. personal grooming) to make shopping and impulse buying more targeted.

New Zealand and Australia have not yet experimented with this idea themselves, yet. Get with the program.

4. Inspirational Leaders love and back talent – they put the right person in the right job – and remove muppets.

Better people make better All Blacks (BJ Lochore). It’s better to have a thousand enemies outside the tent than one inside the tent.

5. Inspirational Leaders are teachers.

The #1 job of a leader is to create new leaders. Create a learning environment that develops individuals in tailored, self-managed program of self-improvement. Responsibility devolves.

6. Inspirational Leaders train to win.

Preparation under pressure. Made battle ready with randomized problem-solving techniques, active questioning and high intensity training. If there’s no enemy, make one up.

7. Inspirational Leaders go for the gap with speed.

Pace is everything. Think Charles Piatau and Kieran Reid.

Russian General Alexander Suvorov: speed, assessment, and hitting power:

  • Bystrota – Playing a fast game
  • Glazometer – Making quick decisions that disorient the opposition
  • Natisk – Acting aggressively

A fast game is a good game. Here’s a gap to close.

In the US and much of Australia, New Zealand and Britain, 44% of all adult eating happens alone. Meals are not routinely a daily social event, especially for professionals. Manufacturers are aware of the need for more single serve convenience foods, but more importantly, how can we bring people together to love breakfast, to love dinner.

8. Inspirational Leaders control their attention.

A Red Head is H.O.T (heated, overwhelmed, tense). A Blue Head remains on task, in the zone, in control, in flow.

Fire in the belly, ice in the mind.

9. Inspirational Leaders have ‘mana’.

Authority, status, personal power, bearing and charisma. Great personal prestige and character. The group leader must be worthy.

10. Inspirational Leaders live One Team; One Dream

They create unifying, challenging, demanding, loving cultures.

Built on 4 pillars:

  • Responsibility
  • Learning
  • Recognition
  • Joy

And finally, Leaders change the way companies work, from:

A D E:                From                To

Assess                50%                20%
Decide                30%                10%
Execute               20%                70%

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