Global Managing Director of Blink & Strategic Partnerships
Global Director of Innovation
Big Lessons from Global Giants
Innovating for Scalable Growth, not short-term PR
Today’s pulsing tech-fuelled era of perpetual change has been dubbed “the age of acceleration”. The pace is fast and unprecedented; data and digital rule, globalisation has hit hard, and knowledge sharing creates new value continuously.
Indeed, if you are to look at the most valuable BrandZ Top 100 Most Valuable Global brands in 2019, eight of the top 10 are technology-based brands, or those with technology powering their core business. The likes of Amazon, Google, Facebook and Alibaba have been founded in recent memory – their tech-centric way of operating enabling them to grow at a much greater pace than traditional brands.
Marketers thinking beyond short-term disruption and into the long term are winning. Brands demonstrating these higher levels of innovation have seen their BrandZ value grow at a much faster pace than traditional “low-innovation” brands – around seven-fold over the past decade.
This has come from a shift to a tech-centric way of thinking and operating – one in which products are built on technology, marketers move from a digital marketing focus to technology-enabled marketing, and a consumer-centric way of enabling modern brands to better understand how consumers behaviour have evolved because of, and with, technology.
Customer centricity will unlock future growth
Our modern breed of consumer is impatient, discerning and vocal. How brands serve their up-levelled expectations is key to growth. It’s imperative for marketers to plan around mindset, location and simplicity. What are your target consumers thinking? Who’s influencing them, what problem are you solving, and how engaged do they want to be with your product or brand?
Brands today are able to disrupt sectors by introducing tech-enabled new models from the subscription economy (think Netflix and Dollar Shave Club), to the gig economy (Uber), and direct-to-consumer opportunities (Warby Parker and Casper). These brands very publicly design their businesses around customer needs and preferences first and foremost.
Being digitally native and data-centric, they can compete with traditional market leaders by better understanding the consumer and their path to purchase, reducing friction in the buying process, and moving at a pace that traditional brands simply cannot match. However, for many legacy brands, beginning to explore tech-centric ways of operating internally can be a huge challenge.
Brands are increasingly looking to external tech partners to unlock growth opportunities in an ever-evolving world. For example, McDonalds has acquired Israeli AI-personalisation tech scale-up Dynamic Yield for $300m, allowing them to better understand their current customer base, as well as tailor their products and offers to suit.
How do legacy brands change to act like a startup?
Legacy brands can’t simply just reinvent themselves as a tech brand, but they can look to market-leading technology to better unlock these growth opportunities.
Over the past three years, the MediaCom BLINK team has helped our clients harness this opportunity by helping shape and manage tech-focused innovation agendas to solve critical business challenges, navigate emerging technologies, and help drive growth for the future. We have run over 50 pilots, showcased over 200 startups, and created $15 million worth of value for our clients to date.
This is not just about embracing the “new”, but rather the different; we develop pilots that tackle challenges from different perspectives with both meaning and measurement. Grounding innovation projects in these kinds of measures allows us to better measure whether a test and partner “worked”, but also scale into future activities and partnerships.
Ultimately, by applying a business-focused lens to tech innovation, brands can save thousands of pounds in wasted development costs and staff hours, control the risk of failure, and build long-term partnerships that will make the biggest impact on their business and help them grow in the future.
UK: Innovating but falling behind
Many of top brands in the BrandZ Global Top 100 ranking originate in the US and China, and European-based brands continue to slip down the rankings. This is, of course, reflective of a global shift in brand power to the East, but also highlights the lack of strong global technology companies to emerge from Europe.
The UK is a standout market in a slow-growth region, and remains a strong hub for tech-based innovation and “scale-up” brands. Latest government figures show that the UK is the fourth-largest market globally for scale-up investment, and London remains the largest city for innovation investment outside of the US. And the future is bright – 35 percent of Europe and Israel’s tech unicorns are born or based in the UK, and one in 20 of the world’s highly skilled tech workforce is based in London.
However, leading brands in this year’s BrandZ UK ranking appear sluggish against the broader global backdrop. There is a clear and urgent need for top UK brands to stay relevant by better understanding how they can bring the outside in, and draw from the world’s tech hubs to enable consumer centricity and evolve at a global pace – not a regional one.