NEWS13 March 2018

How Shell, Diageo and Samsung are using insights to shape commercial innovation

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UK – Brands are using insights from multiple sources to drive innovation around new consumer behaviours and challenge audiences’ perceptions. At a session at Impact 2018, marketers from Shell, Diageo and Samsung discussed how insights have helped them drive innovations in new markets and categories.

Shell claire hayles_crop

Shell – taking customers on a big change

Shell is focused on transforming its business in line with society’s shift towards alternative fuels, but research by Thinktank for the company found that business customers, while interested in biofuels, were also daunted by the prospect. They didn't understand what impact it would have on their operations, such as making sure that the vehicles would stay fuelled around the company, according to Sabine Stork, founding partner at Thinktank.

Stork said: "The research found a lot of uncertainty over alternative fuels, compounded by a general societal climate of fear and uncertainty. The powers that be were slow-moving and indecisive, and this led to an unsettled climate of procrastination for everyone and impeded everyone from investing in the future and planning for the future."

The research recommended that companies looking to lead consumers on a big behaviour change should lead from the front and shout about their involvement. "People are looking for big brands to give them stability to lead them into the future, because it signals it’s real, it’s happening and it’s safe," said Stork.

Customers also need guidance and empathy over their fears, so brands should harness positives and ease the pain, she added. Shell has since been focusing its efforts on understanding these pain points for business customers around cost and disruption to their operations, explained Claire Sayles (pictured), business development director, hydrogen at New Energies, the organisation set up by Shell to focus on the energy transition. She said: "Unless we take our customers with us on this journey, change isn’t going to happen."

Diageo – reframing how people see Baileys

Baileys worked with The Behavioural Architects to encourage new ways of thinking about the brand, repositioning it from being purely a special occasion drink – for instance, at Christmas – to a more regular, year-round treat. Research from the agency identified four potential ‘treat’ spaces, which informed the brand’s move into communications centred around the idea of treats – focused on the idea of the drink as part alcohol, part cake.

"The brand team needed to find new ways to get people to conceptualise Baileys and find new behavioural connections," said Crawford Hollingworth, founder of The Behavioural Architects.

The research has informed Baileys’ creative campaigns focused on playful sharing, introducing the idea of combining the drink with dessert. The brand has also partnered with restaurants including Pizza Express to add Baileys-based desserts to the menu, and launched experiential events partnering with patisserie brands.

The research has changed the way the brand sees itself, said Sheila Cunningham, global head of planning for Baileys. "We don’t see ourselves as operating in the liqueur category – our competition is now chilled desserts, ice cream and chocolate." Cunningham claimed the approach has led to a reversal in the brand’s long-term decline in key markets.

Samsung – identifying innovation blind spots

Zoe Ruffels, vice-president of consumer and market intelligence at Samsung Electronics Europe, and Scott Morrison, co-founder of Thinksprint, discussed a new approach to innovation.

Starting with a brief to grow the TV category, the brand wanted to find new ways to grow without just relying on previous approaches of communication around quality and engineering. 

Thinksprint built a network of startups to handle briefs, allowing the brand to quickly stress-test innovation concepts. It also resulted in Samsung broadening its original brief.

"The brief was how to grow the TV category, but we realised we had blind spots and biases an needed to think differently about what the question was," said Ruffels. "The community delivered multiple perspectives to identify what those biases are – actually it wasn't about the future of TV or screens, it was the future of home. It helped us to go one step futher."