Coca-Cola Expert Interview: Why Consumer Context is Important

July 3, 2018 Ginna Hall

Understanding how consumers make decisions on their complex journeys has never been easy, in part because the decisions change depending on someone’s role.

This is even more challenging today because mobile devices allow us to play multiple roles simultaneously—for example, someone might shop online and text about dinner plans while waiting for the train to work. As a result, marketers need to think carefully about the context in which consumers receive messages.

Laura Rueckel, Coca-Cola“For example, at any given time, I might be in my role as a mom looking to plan something for my kids, or I might be in my role as an executive focused on getting my work done. Or I might be taking care of another family member, such as an aging parent,” said Laura Rueckel, group director, integrated marketing, at Coca-Cola North America. “We all wear different hats throughout the day, sometimes in just the course of a couple of hours.”

We interviewed Rueckel to get her insights on how people-based marketing helps improve customer experience based on her role at Coca-Cola North America.

Coca-Cola North America is at the forefront of product innovation and data-driven decision making as it anticipates and responds to evolving consumer tastes and buying behaviors. In a recent blog post, the company stated, “Coke is quenching Americans’ thirst for personalization and specialization with a range of drinks and packages for different occasions and need states.”

Rueckel is an accomplished marketing leader with expertise in brand and channel strategies, integrated marketing campaigns, digital strategy, and creating innovative plans and solutions. Her marketing career spans project management, streamlining processes, and change-management initiatives within the restaurant and CPG industry.

Put Your Customers and Prospects in Context to Target Messaging Effectively

In our interview, Rueckel noted that people-based marketing makes it possible to tailor messaging in a more refined way, but the same message may still be appropriate in different contexts because people’s lives are so dynamic.

To increase the chances of getting the messaging right, Rueckel recommends marketers ask themselves the following questions about their target audiences: Where are they receiving the message? What emotional state are they in? Are they browsing calmly or are they in a rush? Then, marketers can develop targeted messages for both the person and the context.

With the rise of people-based measurement, marketers also need to rethink how they work with their organizations’ technical teams. Rueckel often sees marketers asking IT departments to find ways to measure results after a campaign is developed or even deployed. At that point, the technical team may say it’s not possible to measure what marketers are interested in, or it is possible but will add costs to the project.

Coca-Cola North America

“If you’re going to target different personas and take the time to craft different messages for different contexts, then you will want the data you get back to match that,” Rueckel says. She suggests the marketing and tech groups collaborate throughout the campaign-development process, starting as early as possible to ensure useful results.

But even with all the advances in people-based marketing and measurement, Rueckel believes the fundamentals of effective messaging have not changed. Companies need to understand the role their products or services play in customers’ lives and the benefits they offer, which could include convenience, fun, or the opportunity to build relationships.

“I think a lot of companies have talked about [their role] at whiteboard sessions and briefings, and most employees probably know what problem the product or service solves. But there’s a difference between knowing that on the company side and communicating it to the consumer,” said Rueckel.

“Companies underestimate how important it is to truly make that connection in whatever marketing they’re doing, to show who they’re serving, why, and the benefit.”

Learn More

To see what industry experts recommend for a people-based approach, download our ebook: 8 Experts on How to Measure People-Based Marketing Impact.

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