When I sat down to talk to Mike Mansbach, CEO of customer engagement and insights platform Punchtab, one thing became very clear: The two of us were trying to understand the new marketing paradigm and provide value for Punchtab’s customers, as well. Mansbach is passionately focused on building an end-to-end platform that helps brands better manage consumer relationships. He’s been CEO of the company for only little over four and a half months, and since he isn’t a loyalty “lifer” as many in the industry are, he was trying to take a proactive approach to listening to the market and to his customers, and trying to discern the challenges that CPGs (Punchtab’s core area of focus) have with regard to creating meaningful brand/consumer relationships.

I broached the topic of “the challenge of listening,” because I feel that this is one of the biggest challenges in the market. What I see from both vendors and brands is that the lack of listening, from a brand perspective is just as much of a challenge as it is in the software and technology market. Those who are providing a wide array of loyalty, analytics, model and data-driven “omni-/multi-channel” technologies are creating a great deal of confusion and obfuscation in the market.

This challenge of listening formed the basis for the remainder of our conversation, mostly analyzed by Mansbach. And I listened….

Mansbach believes that there is an imperative for technology providers to do just that. He felt that entities need focus; they need to be able to understand the challenges of their audience and provide value—measureable value for their customers. He feels that the market’s challenge also is the lack of value supplied by most providers, most specifically in the CPG arena. Mansbach feels that the old “everything but the kitchen sink” mentality would not and should not be the basis on which he could focus their efforts. His team needed to understand at a deep level the challenges of the CPG brands and provide solutions for them.

Among the critical topics of our conversation and Mike Mansbach’s perspective:

Disintermediation. This, of course, is establishing more direct links from organizations to customers by removing go-betweens. This opportunity demanded to be addressed in our conversation. We are all aware of the need for brands to re-mediate themselves with their audience. They must create mutually beneficial relationships with their audience, and not in a banal marketing-driven manner, but in a process that creates true value for their audiences. Technology that can really enable the conversation between the brand and the customer is needed, yet must be developed not only with simplicity in mind, but also with a core laser focus on the CPG arena—rather than a product that could be retrofitted from a retail mold and “packaged” into the CPG box.

The new paradigm of data-driven marketing for CPGs is not all that new, as companies such as IRI, Nielsen and others have gathered data and provided data-driven “insight” to CPG companies for years. Yet this new paradigm involves data that the brands have access to and that they control. It is data in their social media channels, it is data in their call centers, it is transactional and behavioral data they their websites gather and compile. Brands can employ that data to create new models, new insight, new paradigms that Mansbach called “revolutionary” in relation to how it is being received by organizations in market and their audiences.

The new age: Mansbach posited that the next three to five years would see great change in the market, though he stopped short of calling that time a new era. Yet, he felt that the shifts we had seen up to this point would only change more rapidly and create greater opportunity to help these brands. This point of view was founded on the observation that CPGs have been ignored by technology. And because they now have the greatest opportunity for more rapid adoption of technology, they’re subject to a mine field of “me-too’s.” What’s worked in the past doesn’t work now. They need clear guidance and strong technology. For CPGs to accelerate, they have to pick right and pick smart. 

The two of us spoke of an “era of simplicity,” where brands could harness the data and create a more beneficial relationship. We could return to the days of the corner store butcher, who knew what to provide a regular customer on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, are over and to Mike Mansbach point, not only would the butcher know the orders, but also he would know what time that customer would come in on each of those days. And for the most-valued customers, the butcher would “save the best cuts of meat, as well.”

Don’t we all want the best cut of meat?

About the Author: Mark Johnson

Mark is CEO and CMO of Loyalty360. He has significant experience in selling, designing and administering prepaid, loyalty/CRM programs, as well as data-driven marketing communication programs.

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