NEWS15 March 2023

Coca-Cola human insights director: Strategic thinking allows brands to say ‘no’

Covid-19 Insight Alchemy News UK

Strategic thinking is more important than ever in the marketing industry, as it allows brands to say ‘no’ to things, according to a Coca-Cola research executive.

Strategic research thinking in tactical times insight alchemy_crop

Speaking at the MRS Insight Alchemy conference, Fiona Lovatt, human insight director, Coke (pictured second left), extolled the virtues of strategic thinking in today’s world.

She said: “I think the world today for marketers and consumers is just so much more complex than it ever was. There are so many distractions when you are a brand manager or when you are a brand strategist.

“I think strategy is more important, now more than ever, because it enables you to say ‘no’ to things. 

“If you have a really clear strategy in place to deliver your goal, it will help you identify the things to do, but more importantly, it will help you identify the things you shouldn’t do.

“And in these complicated and confusing times I think that strategic thread to guide you is really important.”

Lovatt was speaking on a panel session focused on how strategic thinking can be maintained in tactical times and how insight can lead the way.

The panel also talked about the impact of Covid-19 on the market research industry and its long-term implications.

Lovatt said Covid-19 had “reinforced” that brands need to do the basics well. She said: “From my perspective, it feels like in a time like that and a time like this, in order to drive the brand strategy, you have to understand how your consumers are experiencing the world.” 

She added that this experience could be very different from how a brand is experiencing the world.

But Fenny Leautier, head of marketing insights & analytics personal health, Royal Philips, said one downside resulting from Covid-19, resulting in more employees working from home, was it meant there was “less opportunity to brainstorm”.

The panel were also asked about how agencies were performing on strategic thinking. Lovatt said agencies were “getting better” on strategic thinking but that she would “love to see more”. She said Coke was looking for strategic recommendations from agency partners.

Leautier stressed it was important for agencies to be “brave”, a sentiment echoed by Claire Salkeld, partner, Hummingbird Insights, who said that clients want clarity and that agency partners should tell brands if something is a bad idea.

Salkeld added that “it was about working together” and urged agencies to question clients on their decision-making.