Brands must embrace digital to remain relevant: Social Consumer 2011

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To maintain their relevance, brands must adapt to the unprecedented rate at which consumers are using technology, said Bonin Bough, global director of digital and social media at PepsiCo, on March 23.

Bough, delivering the keynote address at The Social Consumer: Case Studies and Roundtables 2011 event in New York, said marketers must recognize the importance of technologies such as mobile and social media in consumers' lives and reflect that with their brands.

“Digital is at the heart of our consumers, and it needs to be at the heart of our brand,” he said. “Organizations have failed to adapt to change, and what we're facing is a gap between where society is digitally and where organizations are.”

Bough added that marketers must close that gap by not being afraid to experiment  with digital channels for consumer engagement.

“When you look at the companies that are winning, the ones that are winning have an iterative mindset,” he said, adding that PepsiCo's senior leadership has recognized the need for this transformation.

For example, Bough said that the Pepsi Loot app, launched with Foursquare last year, gave the company an understanding of consumer foot traffic while rewarding consumers who checked in at participating locations. The company relayed that information to participating outlets, and offered deals on days when there was slow foot traffic, he said.

“I think digital fitness means the ability to adapt to changes in the digital environment, and the way you get digitally fit is the same way you get physically fit,” said Bough. “It takes training. It takes rigor. It takes commitment. It takes pushing yourself past the point of where you want to say no.”

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