I smell bacon innovation!

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I had the opportunity recently to attend the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) “Masters of Marketing” conference. In almost every presentation, each CMO credited their success in the marketplace with an ability to take risks. With the stratospheric growth in digital marketing initiatives and a need for speed-to-market, rapid innovation and experimentation is now part of the day-to-day DNA of the marketing organization. Or is it?

Prosciutto (ham) is not to be confused with Pancetta (bacon). Capisce?

In Italy, prosciutto (ham) is not the same as pancetta (bacon). Capisce?

Tapping into the bacon-obsessed marketing segment (I’m betting the Experian Mosaic segment for this category represents 98.7% of the US population), Kraft’s Oscar Mayer brand created the Institute for the Advancement of Bacon.

Their digital marketing program includes an integrated social media, website and mobile bacon app for iPhone (and a few lucky people who won the “bacon dongle” that attaches to your phone and had has a bacon-smell atomizer). Their latest campaign is the The Great American Bacon Barter, which you can follow on Twitter @BaconBarter.

This pig is not amused.

Not amused by all this fuss about bacon.

Kraft also turned a nationwide Velveeta cheese shortage (during Superbowl time, no less!) into a marketing extravaganza…the Cheespocalypse…by creating an entire social media strategy on the fly to connect Velveeta cheese lovers with available in-store inventory. Now that’s innovation!

Deanie Elsner, CMO of Kraft, attributes her team’s success to “Agile Marketing.” Their agile marketing framework includes three pillars: data, infrastructure, and content. In her ANA presentation, Deanie noted that they were sitting on almost two decades of consumer data within Kraft (that's big data by any standard). They tapped into that data to build out micro consumer segments – they’re currently managing 500 proprietary target segments that help them facilitate a one-to-one conversation with the consumer. With so much first-party data available, they’re able to tap into that information to drive more relevant engagement with consumers.

As engaging as their marketing campaigns are, it’s not all about the creative: Data and measurement underlie every decision they make. They treat innovation as a discipline, not a free-for-all. And just because you innovate, it doesn’t mean that you’re going to get it right every time. Companies like Kraft aggressively use test-and-learn approaches to shape their go-to-market strategies. Their agile marketing framework allows them to execute quickly, and their culture of innovation encourages risk taking. But how do they know what campaigns will work? Deanie’s team mines customer data – in fact, if they predict you won’t eat bacon, you won’t see a bacon ad.

According to a 2014 Gartner survey, 83% of marketing organizations set aside roughly 9% of their annual budget for innovation. That sounds pretty good – except that Forrester Research puts that number at only 11% of marketing organizations. There’s obviously a gap in there. Our observation is that innovation needs more focus in marketing, and data-driven innovation in marketing is still at the ground level.

Mmmmm….do I smell bacon?

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About Author

Rachel Alt-Simmons

Business Transformation Lead - Customer Intelligence Practice

Rachel Alt-Simmons is a business transformation practitioner whose expertise extends to operationalizing analytic capabilities vertically and horizontally through organizations. As the Business Transformation Lead for customer analytics at SAS Institute, she is responsible for redesign and optimization of operational analytic workflow, business process redesign, training/knowledge transfer, and change management strategies for customers. Prior to SAS, Rachel served as Assistant Vice President, Center of Excellence, Enterprise Business Intelligence & Analytics at Travelers, and as Director, BI & Analytics, Global Wealth Management at The Hartford. Rachel Alt-Simmons is a certified Project Management Professional, certified Agile Practitioner, Six Sigma Black Belt, certified Lean Master, and holds a post as adjunct professor of computer science at Boston University’s Metropolitan College. She received her master’s degree in Computer Information Systems from Boston University.

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