NEWS17 March 2021

GSK CMO Tamara Rogers: Brands should not forget about people

Covid-19 Healthcare Impact 2021 News Trends UK

UK – Brands must look to connect with people on an emotional level if they are to succeed and must recognise the growing importance of having strong values, according to Tamara Rogers, global chief marketing officer at GSK Consumer Healthcare.

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Speaking during an interview at the MRS Impact 2021 conference, Rogers said that brands must have a purpose and should look to refocus on their core principles to maintain success.

“People want to know who the people are behind a brand, the companies behind those people and if their values are aligned to their own values,” Rogers said.

“Is this a company they want to put money into? This year, that became even more obvious. Everybody was looking at the impact on the environment of having fewer cars and people around – I felt like nature just exploded last year. That has increased focus on brands and what they stand for.”

She said that brands should look to “connect with the human spirit” and show that they can connect with real people, and create “a product that delivers, an idea that inspires”.

This included a greater onus on emotional connection rather than data analysis. “I feel we have been in an era that is very data-driven, which I love, but it is very short-term,” Rogers said. “It’s performance marketing, making sure that you’re always optimising and shifting and A/B testing, and it’s all about conversion to sale.”

“It is all about conversion to sale. What we have forgotten in that journey is that those who are buying our brands are people, and we need to connect with them as people and care. People then remember to buy your brand next time.

“We have moved from selling to serving. That’s why you really need to understand your consumer.”

Rogers added that organisations need to be prepared to challenge accepted truths and employ people willing to do so to ensure they could evolve alongside societal attitudes.

“I think we need to unlock curiosity and challenging thinking – pushing and challenging each other and being prepared to make mistakes,” she said.

“You learn from mistakes, and from that you will do something better. Don’t be fearful of learning.”

Covid-19, according to Rogers, posed significant challenges for the world and for business, but also encouraged companies to innovate and helped show the importance of the health industry. 

“Health really matters, and that became so apparent,” she said. “Quite scientific terms suddenly became part of the vernacular. Health became very central. The human ability to innovate, be entrepreneurial and find solutions came to the fore.” 

The rise and prevalence of fake news also required leadership from brands, Rogers argued. “I think we have an opportunity to step up, be leaders and find ways to get the truth out via our brands.”