Is Marketing in Need for Consumer Science?

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In one of the posts on my blog called the “Omni Channel Paradox”, I had compared a marketer’s desire to drive Omni Channel Experiences with a Formula One race driver who attempts to win the race with flat tires, certain impossibility.

You may argue that the case of the Formula One race is a no brainer, far too obvious but I believe that a brand’s desire to drive these Omni Channel or seamless consumer experiences especially in a highly fragmented marketing ecosystem is equally unreal and impossible.

In the same post I had shared about “FRAGMENTATION” at multiple levels as the biggest roadblock to this ultimate immersive experience. It was fragmentation at three levels:

  • Data & Technology Fragmentation
  • Skills Fragmentation
  • Organizational & Operational Fragmentation

But I missed out on the most basic level of fragmentation ie the number of silos we are creating within marketing itself and what’s worse is that we are celebrating this fragmentation. Take a look at how many different “types” of marketing we have today:

  • Digital Marketing
  • Content Marketing
  • ECommerce Marketing
  • Retail Marketing
  • Search Engine Marketing
  • Email Marketing
  • .. and more

Shouldn’t there be just one thing ie “Marketing” and if you really love to break things down, perhaps “Good Marketing” or “Bad Marketing”. At the end of the day, there is only “one consumer”, someone who could care less about how you as marketers are organized or structured, all she cares about is:

 “How can I get the best product, that provides the maximum value with the most immersive and relevant experience to me, at the best possible price and at a time and location when I need it”.

Ultimately it is that simple and that’s what I believe is a fundamental shift from “Channel Obsession to Consumer Obsession”, where you literally put the consumer right at the center. But am sure for 99.9% of the readers, this is still NO NEWS, yes we have been saying that for decades now. So where do we continue to fail?

It comes down to fragmentation at all levels including the organizational and operating models as well as the data and technology ecosystem. However, one area that goes unnoticed is the fragmentation in the skills of a modern marketer. Modern marketing is in need of marketers who are no longer the T-Shaped professionals but Multi-Pi shaped or as they are being called now “The Unicorns”. While many people have been able to define what is expected out of these unicorns and the desire for them to go deep in multiple verticals, the bigger challenge is where do you find them?

Does this require a fundamental change in our educational system that traditionally focuses on silos of computer science, finance, marketing, sales and other fields? Is it time to move away from these to “CONSUMER SCIENCE”, a phenomena that keeps the consumer at the center of analytical thinking with a prime focus on growing consumer obsessed marketers, an age where everyone is a marketer and everything is marketing?

In a recent quote from Bob Liodice, CEO Association of National Advertisers as quoted in the WallStreet Journal, Aug 13th, 2014, he stated:

 

There are two root causes that need to be addressed. The first is related to the volume and quality of students from esteemed universities that enter into our field. The second is related to the ongoing training and development for existing industry staff. On both counts, I believe the industry falls terribly short. In an environment where digital dominates everything we do, it is clear our industry has much to do to elevate the total talent pool and their overall quality.”

 

Most of these so called Pi Shaped Marketers or the Unicorns are being developed organically with on the job learning and while there may not be a better place and method to learn, it is far few and slow. If the universities and schools need to produce the next marketer who can stand tall amidst the highest levels of disruption, it would require a new thinking that is meant for a “CONNECTED” world; a world that will continue to get smarter with data and faster with machines.

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