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 / Autumn 2007 / Issue 48(originally published by Booz & Company)


The New Complete Marketer

The challenges of marketing demand a fresh perspective and open mind. As John Hayes of American Express likes to say, “The consumer is moving faster than most companies.” The lessons from the first six months of 2007 from the likes of Kraft Foods, AT&T Wireless, Safeway, Taco Bell, SprintNextel, and Starbucks are all too clear: There’s a steep price to pay for failing to keep up with the fast-changing tastes and needs of customers. And, on the flip side, those marketers who do stay ahead of the curve, both by knowing their customers and by working to keep the marketing organization aligned with corporate strategy, can become invaluable contributors to the company’s agenda and success.

Procter & Gamble: Consumer-Centricity

In 24 years with Procter & Gamble, Jim Stengel has had 11 jobs. In 2001, he took on the assignment of global marketing officer for the world’s largest consumer packaged goods maker, and he has made a fierce focus on the consumer the organizing principle of P&G’s global marketing program — an emphasis that demanded a change in management perspective.

S+B: For well more than 100 years, P&G has been a marketing leader. Is there tension in trying to achieve balance between a manufacturing culture and a consumer culture?
STENGEL: That struggle is never over. I think, actually, that the consumer was not at the heart of all our businesses even 10 years ago. Even today, [P&G CEO] A.G. [Lafley] still can point to one of our businesses and say, “The machine is the boss, not the consumer.” So you can’t ever be complacent about that. You’ve got to always be on your toes.

We’re going to continue to really, really hit on that: The consumer’s at the center of all we do. We’re here to serve her. That mentality is really important.

S+B: How do you reinforce that mentality?
STENGEL: Marketing plays a huge role in P&G culture. That has an important ripple effect: What’s important to us will in­ev­itably influence our consumers. In any company, the CMO has to be not only the consumer-insights champion, but also the person who is really valuing what the enterprise is working on.

S+B: How does the marketing team work as culture champion?
STENGEL: We really have culture on our minds all the time. The kinds of things that we spend time on, that I reward or recognize — the places I visit, and the people I recognize — these all have symbolic importance to the company. They help shape our values and our activities, and it flows out to our audience.

S+B: There are plenty of companies that say, “We’re consumer insight driven.” How do you make that happen in a tangible way?
STENGEL: Look at our people’s work and development plans and you’ll see consumer focus in them. Look at our investment in re­search, and the kinds of research being invested in. Is it all in “checking” or “validation” re­search, or is it true consumer-knowledge research? Look at what the company measures. We don’t just ask, “Does it clean better?” We routinely conduct equity audits of our top brands in our top countries.

Another way to make a consumer orientation tangible is to walk the talk — up to (and including) the leadership. We do spend time as leadership groups engaged in issues that are very consumer centered. After the Gillette acquisition, for instance, we spent half a day at one of our quarterly top management meetings with very media-savvy moms. We wanted our senior people, who are digital immigrants, to understand how people are spending their time and getting their information. After four or five hours of an experience like that, you can’t come back and say, “Well, we’re going to do a media plan that is 95 percent TV.” You think about things differently.

—Excerpted from
CMO Thought Leaders:
The Rise of the Strategic Marketer

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  1. Johannes Bussmann, Gregor Harter, and Evan Hirsh, “Results-Driven Marketing: A Guide to Growth and Profits,” s+b enews, 1/31/06: The changing world requires a more rigorous approach to marketing. But that doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice creativity to analysis. Click here.
  2. Edward Landry, Andrew Tipping, and Brodie Dixon, “Six Types of Marketing Organizations: Where Do You Fit In?” s+b Resilience Report, 10/11/05: Is your marketing approach in sync with your company’s needs? Here’s how to figure that out. Click here.
  3. Edward Landry, Andrew Tipping, and Jay Kumar, “Growth Champions,” s+b, Summer 2006: Survey data from Booz Allen Hamilton and the Association of National Advertisers identifies marketers who drive growth by leading product innovation and new business development. Click here.
  4. Geoffrey Precourt, ed., CMO Thought Leaders: The Rise of the Strategic Marketer (strategy+business Books, 2007): The book from which this article was excerpted offers insight from 15 top marketing leaders on the current and future direction of their field. Click here.
  5. Richard Rawlinson, “Beyond Brand Management,” s+b, Summer 2006: Career paths, attitude shifts, and training approaches for the marketer of the future. Click here.
  6. For more articles on marketing and sales, sign up for s+b’s RSS feed at Click here.
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