Q&A With Walter Levitt, CMO, Comedy Central

Carlton Doty

HBO Now. Sling TV. CBS All Access. It seems almost every day we learn about a new deal or a new service that will continue to fragment the way consumers watch the content they love.

It’s also just one of the reasons I’m excited to hear from Comedy Central at this year’s Forum for Marketing Leaders - a brand that is actively traversing the fast-paced changes in the TV industry.

Walter Levitt is CMO at Comedy Central, and will join us on stage on Tuesday to discuss the evolution of the ‘multi-channel, multi-platform brand.’ In advance of his session, he sat down with me to talk about the effect of these changes on the Comedy Central brand.

Q. Comedy Central is rooted in a traditional linear cable channel, but (like many of your peers) is actively pursuing a multi-screen, multi-platform strategy. Do you think of Comedy Central as a TV brand, an entertainment brand, a content brand, or something else?

A. Comedy Central is a comedy brand. For our fans, we are their favorite “go to” whenever they are looking for a laugh. We have a strong 24-year history as a TV network, but over the last few years we've evolved our brand to ensure we are meeting the needs of our fans everywhere – and that obviously extends far beyond the linear TV screen.

Q. In building engagement, loyalty and audience, how do you balance the place of the Comedy Central brand vs. the brands of your individual programs, like the Daily Show or Broad City? How do you allocate investment, for example?

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Q&A with Lori Tieszen, SVP & CMO, Stoli Group USA

Carlton Doty

It’s hard to believe it’s been nearly a year since we introduced contextual marketing at our 2014 Forum for Marketing Leaders. At that event, we focused on new approaches to marketing that harness the power of customer context to deliver real-time value in customers’ moments of need. This year’s forum for marketing leaders is right around the corner, and we think it’s going to be our best yet.

The 2015 Forum will dive deep into the next-generation marketing organization, addressing the critical challenges today’s marketers face on the road to customer-obsession. And as this year’s conference host, I couldn’t be more excited about the roster of industry CMOs, marketing leaders, and Forrester analysts we’ll hear from next week.

One such speaker: Lori Tieszen, SVP & CMO at Stoli Group USA. I had a chance to catch up with Lori to hear about Stoli’s brand reboot. Here’s a sneak peak at this journey, which we’ll hear Lori talk about in detail next week.

Q. What was behind the decision to create a standalone company to focus on the Stoli brand in the US?

A. With the last importer, William Grant & Sons, Stoli lost share in the vodka category. When the contract was up, our owner, Mr. Yury Shefler, thought it was more important to market and sell his vodka directly versus through a third party. Third party brands, not owned by the importer, are never as important as their own brands.

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$70 Billion In Offline Sales In India Will Be Web-Influenced By 2019

Satish Meena

Less than 1% of total retail sales in India were made online in 2014, but the impact of the Web on offline sales is much greater. The emergence of smartphones and the mobile Internet is playing a much bigger role in influencing the purchase decisions of online users. Customers are using them to research products, even when they are shopping in physical stores; to compare prices with online retailers; to check specifications; and to read user reviews. This user behavior is making the Web a more powerful medium — one that retailers can no longer ignore. It is most influential in categories like computer hardware and software, media, footwear, apparel, and consumer electronics, as these contain a greater number of online-savvy retailers. We recently published the Forrester Research Web-Influenced Retail Sales Forecast, 2014 To 2019 (India), which reveals that:

  • $70 billion in offline sales in India will be influenced by the Web in 2019. This is more than twice the volume of total online retail sales in India, emphasizing the importance of the Web as a way for retailers to connect with customers.
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Q&A with Jim Berra, SVP & CMO, Carnival Cruise Lines

Carlton Doty

In the wake of a series of negative and well-publicized events in early 2013, Carnival Cruise Lines has since engineered a strong recovery and ranks as the No. 1 improved US brand in terms of consumer perception over the past year.

At Forrester’s Forum for Marketing Leaders next week, we’ll hear from Jim Berra, SVP & CMO at Carnival Cruise Lines, on how the well-known hospitality brand made this journey. In advance of his session, I sat down with Jim to talk about the evolution of his role at the company, and how he’s traversed the tricky path toward customer-obsession. Here’s a look at our conversation.

Q. How will your role change in the coming 3 to 5 year time period and what is driving this change?

A. It’s always fun to try to crystal ball where marketing will go and I’m 100 percent confident that I won’t get this right, but I’ll give it a shot. I think what will separate marketers has less to do with the role we’ve traditionally played and more to do with the role we are now being asked to play. This centers around how the product and customer experience should evolve, and how the organization will use data and consumer insight to unlock opportunities to innovate.

To do this well, it will require CMOs to collaborate effectively across a wider range of stakeholders, and in some cases, take a few steps outside of our comfort zones. It also requires taking a larger view of the business, and effectively balancing different internal and external perspectives.  

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Participate In Our Forrester/DMA Customer Loyalty Benchmark Research

Srividya Sridharan

This is a guest post by Samantha Ngo, Researcher on the Customer Insights team.


Wonder how your loyalty strategies compare to others in the industry? As a refresh to our 2012 benchmarks, we invite you to take part in our 2015 Customer Loyalty Benchmark survey

If you manage or make decisions about your company's customer loyalty initiatives, we want to hear from you. We're teaming up with the Direct Marketing Association (DMA) to investigate the evolution of loyalty programs and strategies: what are the current challenges, how do you measure success, and how does the loyalty ecosystem play a part in strategy execution.

Take our 2015 Customer Loyalty Benchmark survey, and we'll send you complimentary a copy of the resulting research!

You can use the results to:

  • Determine trends and see best practices to incorporate into your loyalty strategy.
  • Benchmark your program performance, spend levels, and loyalty technology adoption to those of other loyalty marketing professionals. 
  • Build a business case for further investment in customer loyalty.
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Reflections on Qual360

Anjali Lai

Two weeks ago, I spoke at the Qual360 conference in Atlanta, hosted by the Merlien Institute. If you follow this blog, you’ll know that I typically fold qualitative insight into a diverse research mix, so I went to the conference with a broad view of market research methodologies. But after connecting with qualitative researchers, marketers, academics, and thought leaders from around the globe, I left Qual360 with a renewed appreciation for the fundamental importance of qualitative insight, its deep impact on key business decisions, and its differentiated value in today’s data-driven culture. Here are a few of my takeaways from Qual360:

  • In a world where everything is getting faster, qualitative research must go slower. As Anita Watkins from TNS and Emily Williams of Newell Rubbermaid put it, qualitative research is not about testing, it is about illuminating context and understanding evolving beliefs. That means qualitative insight can’t be commoditized and sold with the promise of fast, bite-size deliveries. The true value of qualitative insight lies not in the verbatim data but in the accurate analysis of those words in the context of social, environmental, psychological, and emotional depth.
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Welcome To The B2B Marketing Role

Peter O'Neill

Welcome to our new B2B Marketing role pages. Our research and advisory work will focus on the sharp end of B2B marketing (see below). By that I mean all the work that marketers do to generate and accelerate revenue for their company. You’ll find our reports useful if you do demand generation, lead-to-revenue management, field marketing, content marketing as it is related to buyer engagement, and, of course, all aspects of sales and channel enablement.

B2B companies must rapidly adjust their go-to-market strategies, as they face disintermediation from the B2B buyer — because of the increase in digital and mobile channels and the ubiquity of information. They must make investments in technology, process change, and skills development; they need to engage customers better, both digitally and further into the buying process; while sales must also engage buyers earlier, often via social channels. At the same time, eBusiness teams should gear up to support the B2B buyer’s increasing demand for an eCommerce channel.

Many of you are doing these things, but because these changes and adjustments happen inside of organizational boundaries, they’re often uncoordinated and seem disjointed to customers. Here on these pages, we will provide B2B Marketing Professionals with guidance in how to develop ONE customer-centric engagement strategy that will help you win, serve, and retain your customers — a strategy that scales across all the customer segments you target and all the different types of products and services you offer.

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Endless Aisle Capabilities Drive Incremental Demand For Retailers

Adam Silverman

Omnichannel initiatives have dominated eBusiness priority lists for a few years now, and leading retailers have been doubling down their investments in omnichannel fulfillment technology. Most of the focus, however, has gone toward store fulfillment of online orders and click-and-collect functionality. Why did these capabilities rise to the top? Because of their clear financial impact on the business, as well as minimal impact on store and associate processes.

But considering that roughly nine out of ten retail sales still take place offline, a much larger opportunity exists when retailers leverage inventory while the customer is shopping within a store. By offering the ability to fulfill out-of-stock items from any location within the enterprise, endless aisle tools offer a scalable tactic for retailers to drive incremental revenue. Today's endless aisle programs allow retailers to:

  • Meet customer expectations. Consumers expect the conveniences of eCommerce—including virtually unlimited inventory and assortment—regardless of whether they’re shopping online or in the physical store. Forrester data shows that in the event that an item is out of stock, over half of US online adults would opt to have a store associate order the item for them if they could get it shipped for free. Offering endless aisle capabilities means never having to say you’re sorry to customers looking to buy your products. 
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Become Customer-Obsessed Or Fail

Michael Gazala

What’s the top imperative at your company? If it’s not a transformation to make the company more customer-focused, you’re making a mistake. Technology and economic forces have changed the world so much that an obsession with winning, serving, and retaining customers is the only possible response.

We’re in an era of persistent economic imbalances defined by erratic economic growth, deflationary fears, an oversupply of labor, and surplus capital hunting returns in a sea of record-low interest rates. This abundance of capital and labor means that the path from good idea to customer-ready product has never been easier, and seamless access to all of the off-the-shelf components needed for a startup fuels the rise of weightless companies, which further intensify competition.

Chastened by a weak economy, presented with copious options, and empowered with technology, consumers have more market muscle than ever before. The information advantage tips to consumers with ratings and review sites. They claim pricing power by showrooming. And the only location that matters is the mobile phone in their hand from which they can buy anything from anyone and have it delivered anywhere.

This customer-driven change is remaking every industry. Cable and satellite operators lost almost 400,000 video subscribers in 2013 and 2014 as customers dropped them for the likes of Netflix. Lending Club, an alternative to commercial banks, has facilitated more than $6 billion in peer-to-peer loans. Now that most B2B buyers would rather buy from a website than a salesperson, we estimate that 1 million B2B sales jobs will disappear in the coming years.

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Finding The Right Inspiration To Transform Your Customer Experience (Updated With Podcast)

Sam Stern

A few years ago, The Mayo Clinic wanted to design separate consultation and exam rooms to reflect the reality that most appointments consist mainly of conversations between doctors and patients, with less examination time. But there wasn't enough floor space to accommodate the number of separate rooms that it envisioned. Then, inspiration struck from the least likely of places . . . The Brady Bunch. On the show, viewers may recall that the boys and girls of the blended family shared a bathroom with two doors connecting it to adjoining bedrooms (i.e., a Jack and Jill bathroom). Mayo borrowed the concept and now has two consultation rooms that share one inner exam room.

I love examples like this — finding the spark of creativity from unlikely sources. And in my latest report, "Finding the Right Inspiration To Transform Your Customer Experience," I provide more examples for CX professionals about how to get inspiration — from both likely and unlikely sources — to spark their CX initiatives.

What we found is that CX professionals benefited from three types of inspiration:

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