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IIeX – Digital Fitness: The New Insights Imperative

Insight Innovation Exchange (#IIeX) in Philadelphia starts off with the VP of North American consumer insights for Campbell Soup Company stressing the need for brands to become "digitally fit".

Charles Vila, the VP of North American consumer insights for Campbell Soup Company, opened the Insight Innovation Exchange in Philadelphia by stressing the need for brands to become “digitally fit”. In an age where digital is reshaping the life of consumers, it needs to reshape the insights role as well. Children are more likely to own a smartphone than a book, Facebook is blamed for 20% of divorces, and over 30% of 18 to 35-year-olds check Facebook immediately after having sex. Similarly, digital is changing consumers’ relationships to brands: “Digital is influencing the entire path to purchase–living, planning, shopping, experiencing.”

As a result, said Charles, “digital fitness is essential: you have to build strength, muscle, endurance, and speed.” Getting a digitally fit is essential for Campbell and its insight function. “We have to be as digitally fit as our consumers, or even more so.” Much like health and wealthiness, it is a choice — to be digitally fit for the long term, in how Campbells gather insights, in the programs it is putting into place in its markets. “Digitally fit companies make every-day commitment. From an insights role, every day we are looking for new opportunities, looking for new ways of thinking and doing.”

“We are gathering insights very differently than we were 5 years ago, and 5 years from now will be even more different. I won’t be waiting for questionnaires to be tabulated or data to be cleaned. I expect to get data at a moment’s notice. Vendors, I am asking you to help me get there. Even our employees are being wired: we swapped out Blackberries for iPhones, because that is what consumers have, and we are envisioning a Genius Bar in our cafeteria.”

Continuing the metaphor, Charles said, “We have to avoid the digital diet.” Digital insights can’t be just the latest craze. “It is is a strategic imperative that requires long term commitment.”

Charles wanted to leave listeners with four main points:

  1. “Campbells is getting digitally fit, and I challenge you to get fit as well… Any of you rooted in doing market research the way we have done it in the past, you will not be in business.”
  2. “We want to ‘engage and connect’ in our consumers’ lives, so help me do that.” Charles isn’t looking for buzzword compliance, but differentiated solutions.
  3. “We need to anticipate future trends, looking further out, to 10 to 15 years.” Campbells works with the Institute of the Future — “much of what they identify is 15 years out, but you can see signals today.” To focus on the future, understand what are the coming disruptions and what are the options they present? “How do I prepare myself choice-fully and deliberately for the future while planning for each quarter?”
  4. “Provide us new solutions in insights and activation — I don’t want another generic approach or tool. I want a new solution that will help me grow my business.”

Charles concluded by saying, “Living in the new world is like training for a marathon. But we need to run at a sprinter’s pace.”

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One response to “IIeX – Digital Fitness: The New Insights Imperative

  1. I wonder how Charles Vila’s excitement will be tempered by news that Facebook lost 150 million users year on year and has shown no growth in the UK in the last 12 months. Don’t tell me the whole social media thing is coming off the boil? Looks like Digital Fitness will be taking place among a declining audience fed up with sharing and rejecting unwarranted push marketing. Sounds less exciting by the minute. Even my 18 and 20 year old daughters are discarding Facebook, Twitter and a bunch of other social media. What is really going on here? Is this the new TV, started with a “can’t do without it” and look where it is now?

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