CCO Talk: Consumers in the boardroom of… HJ Heinz

Meet our CCO (Chief Consumer Officer) Talk series, offering people from the C suite a chance to share their views on driving consumer centricity and activation in their organizations. Getting under the skin of users and fans, really understanding what makes them tick and allowing the corporate teams to think, feel and act like them. Mariken Kimmels, Marketing Director Heinz Continental Europe at HJ Heinz shares her thoughts on the strategic importance of staying connected and of hard listening to consumers.

Making the individual the hero instead of the brand

Too many marketers do not realize that the gap between brands and consumers is increasing. We are still focusing too much on making the brand the hero in everything we do. We love talking about our brand and telling consumers what we think is interesting for them and as a result we forget to really listen to them and to be relevant in their lives. In this rapidly changing world fundamentally affecting attitudes and values of our consumers we need to transform our thinking from the brand as the hero to making the individual the hero in everything we do. We have been focusing too much on attracting consumers to our brand world, while we should make our brand present and relevant in their world, in their daily lives. The only way to do so is by making consumers an integrated part of everything we do. That means we need to stop talking about ourselves and start listening.
In order to do so we need to connect with consumers 24/7, not just when we need an insight for a new concept or when we want to tell them something we think they will like about our brand. Truly understanding and being relevant in their world means: being with them and listening to them all the time and using that as the basis for all the decisions you have to take as a marketer. As brand owners we all know we need to put the consumers at the heart of our decisions and we claim we are doing that… but are we really?
That would mean we have to let go of the control we want to have over our brands and products. Making the individual the hero means that we put them in the driver’s seat of our brands… and that is a frightening thought for a marketer, because where does that leave us and our control over the brand? Actually it leaves us in a very powerful place, as with all the new technologies available to us we have all the tools to make our brands relevant in the daily life of people. We are the linking pin between the best consultants you can have, the consumers, and our brands. It is our job to truly connect and bond our brands with everyday consumers in a way that is relevant to them; as a result you will start closing the gap…

As published in The Consumer Consulting Board: Consumer shaping your business by the InSites Consulting team.

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