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The New Competitive Edge for Brands? Rapid Response

by Theresa Christine Johnson on 01/08/2018 | 4 Minute Read

By: Adrián Fernández, General Manager of Pantone

Whatever I purchase—whether it be toothpaste or even glasses—has to appeal to my senses or my values. That’s right, we humans purchase things that are relevant to us, leaving those that aren’t to idly linger on the shelf.

So in order to remain relevant, brands must constantly position themselves to rapidly respond to consumer needs.

Unfortunately, rapid response is a tall order. A recent report, “The Responsiveness Requirement” by The Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Council revealed that only 16 percent of senior marketers thought their organizations were “extremely responsive,” in regards to making changes to products, packaging, services and experiences based on consumer feedback and shifting preferences. So most companies are unequipped to meet consumers’ expectations at a crucial touchpoint that affects their buying behavior: the physical channel.  

The low percentage of leaders self-identifying as “extremely responsive” is disheartening, especially considering 43 percent agree that responsiveness is critical to delivering an exceptional consumer experience.

While many brands aim to provide hyper-relevant products and responses to their customers, one roadblock slows down the entire process: consistency. Marketers struggle to deliver consistent experience across a growing array of marketing touchpoints, in both digital and physical channels, at the speed of consumer’s expectations.

In order to connect physical and digital marketing initiatives, digital transformation of the end-to-end marketing supply chain must occur, especially in the development of physical touchpoints: packaging, in-store promotions, signage and displays. This breaks down barriers that currently hinder responsiveness.

Here’s how to spark your “responsiveness” digital transformation:

Digitize the process and tools

Providing your teams access to digital standards and shared libraries drive complexity out of the process and align digital and physical experiences. Color swatches, style guides and product prototypes are all tools available in a corresponding digital form. Brand leaders can specify colors, provide print manufacturers with digital color standards and measure color consistency so they can know the packages headed to retail customers are compliant.

The level of quality is critical because while I’m shopping, if a product color appears dull or faded, I may consider a different product. That’s not just because I’m a color nerd: 66 percent of marketing leaders reported that consumers are very to extremely sensitive to variations in packaging color and consistency. And we also know that retail customers return products that don’t sell, sometimes for this very reason.

Automate (everything)

Once digitized, many tasks can be reduced to math problems. Software apps can convert colors and file types, even anticipate the way colors can be achieved on different materials. Automating your workflow improves productivity, shortens turnaround for quality inspection and speeds approvals. Automation alerts you as soon as there is a problem so you can react quickly, in real time.

This kind of agility will be the competitive edge for thriving brands because it is the level of responsiveness consumers expect, with digital and physical components marching in step.

Connect technologies

The more systems you string together, the more human time you cut from your process and the faster your company can deliver changes to the consumer experience that keep your brand relevant. Connecting your teams, technologies and vendors positions your company to deliver powerful brand experiences that are both unified and timely. Most importantly, consumers see your brand as a single entity.

Consumers, myself included, expect quality, agility and relevance. Brands must reflect their consumer or be content sitting on a store shelf sporting a clearance sticker.


Adrián Fernández
Adrián Fernández is Vice President of Packaging at X-Rite and General Manager at Pantone. He has a passion for addressing key color challenges and a thorough understanding of the value chain from brands and designers to manufacturers to retail partners.

Prior to joining Pantone, Adrián spent two decades working in global commercial and business development within the consumer goods industry, engaging in many color decisions for product and packaging throughout the product development process and commercialization.

Adrian earned his MBA from the University of Cincinnati College of Business and his Accounting degree from Pontificia Universidad Católica Argentina.

Image credits: Pantone

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