Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Stengel's mantra: Get to know your customers

+ Jim Stengel, marketing chief for Procter & Gamble Co., wants to get to know you better.
At an advertising trade conference this year, Stengel called for a "mind-set shift that will make us relevant to today's consumers; a mind-set shift from 'telling and selling' to building relationships."

Stengel has focused on increased consumer research, including "immersion" in which marketers spend hours at a time visiting, shopping, and talking with people for the Cincinnati-based consumer products company that spends nearly $7 billion a year on global advertising.

"We need to think beyond consuming ... and to really directly understand the role and the meaning the brand has in their lives," Stengel told The Associated Press in an interview. "If you're always asking that question, 'How can I be more relevant, how can I have a deeper meaning, how can I build this relationship between brand and consumer to a higher level' your marketing gets better, you innovate.

"With the amount of information we have at our fingertips today, it makes it even more important to stay in touch, to get out there and talk to real people about real issues," Stengel said.


"Marketers are rightfully very interested in engaging consumers and creating a dialogue," said Edward Landry, a vice president at the management consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton, which helped produce a book released this month on leading marketing executives, such as Stengel.

"In a lot of these practices, P&G seems to be a little ahead of the curve," Landry said.

While many marketers talk about consumer relationships and the need to be "consumer-centric," P&G's leadership - which makes "the Consumer is Boss" its mantra - clearly has it as top priority in research, training and measuring results, Landry said.

"There is a world of difference between knowing and doing," Landry said. "The company does what it talks."

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