WPP Commerce 2020

Miami Beach

By Vanessa Perry, Partner, Digital Platform Services

Last week Feb 24th – 26th Geometry Global CEO, Beth Ann Kaminkow and Redfuse Global CEO, Carl Hartman presented WPP Commerce, a 2-day event dedicated to all things commerce on Miami Beach at the Faena Hotel & Forum. The event was jam packed with over 400 incredible speakers, thought leaders, change makers, disrupters and the world’s biggest brands, set in an incredibly beautiful setting seamlessly integrating organized keynotes, breakout sessions and beachside conversations. Myself, Peter Fasano, Ogilvy and Head of Commerce Strategy & Solutions, Ed Kim, were all fortunate to attend.

Unlike many retail conferences that focus on topics and themes such as “The Future of Retail” or “Innovations in Retail”, WPP Commerce is an event with a truly thoughtful approach around commerce, showcasing how to really excel, understand and meet/exceed customer demands and expectations in an increasingly direct-to-consumer (DTC) world.

Nothing matters more than the Customer Experience.

With breakout sessions such as “Triggering Impulse in Ecommerce – New Neuroscience Insights (lead by Geometry), Why Experience is the Core to the Future of Commerce (lead by VMLY&R and Google), Creative Connects: Mondelez Throws House Parties to bring Shoppers In-Store” (lead by Mondelez ), Catch The Next Wave of Content Creation (lead by TikTok) and Building Brand in a Next Generation World (lead by Colgate & MikMak) many of the themes circled back to one thing – Customer Experience. We had a spirited discussion beachside with Zac Cook of Salesforce during his topic “The Direct to Consumer Imperative: Why you need to pivot your brand to your consumer” over the question, how important IS technology to the customer experience?

All agreed that technology’s role is important, however what’s really and truly important is being able to both predict and deliver the most relevant and personalized experience to the customer. If the brand doesn’t deliver, they either need to pivot (e.g. create new and innovative products) or they will become obsolete. As Curt Munk of Geometry summed it up quite perfectly in reference to consumer expectations: “people will never be happy again.”

The expectation is high and getting higher for brands to deliver on promises to consumers. Happy or not, it’s a very good time to be a consumer.

Storytelling needs to be integrated into your brand, genuinely and authentically

At Ogilvy, our goal is to make brands matter so listening to Miri Rodriguez, Lead Storyteller at Microsoft, talk about the importance of storytelling to brand experience was uplifting. In addition, her view that brands must embrace empathy to make a genuine and authentic connection with their audience is an often overlooked attribute, but one that resonates.

Charlie Wade of VMLY&R and Katie Hunt Co-Founder of Showfields, discussed how important being mission driven is for brands; it’s not just selling a product, it’s sharing and selling the story. Showfields has found great success in partners who share similar world views and purpose for creative collaborations. The vision for Showfields was to create a multichannel retail experience and to collaborate with brands, artists and entrepreneurs to celebrate their unique stories and products and offer physical retail space to engage 1:1 with consumers. Its success is a true testament that brick and mortar isn’t dead, it just needs to evolve and meet the needs of today’s customers. Experience matters whether it’s online or IRL.

Purpose and Sustainability is Mission Critical

Almost every session included conversation on corporate responsibility and sustainability. Because consumers now care as much of the impact of brands as they do about the actual product, brands and organizations must be more purpose-driven and authentic in values and products.

During Wednesday’s fireside chat with WPP’s Chief Marketing and Growth Officer Laurent Ezekiel and Amazon’s Andy Aupperlee, the conversation focused on frictionless shopping, Dash buttons and IoT, but did also highlight Amazon’s commitment to sustainability. The company pledges to reach 80% renewable energy by 2024, and the balance by 2030, before reaching net-zero carbon neutrality by 2040.  Amazon is currently looking at ways to decrease dependencies on cardboard, redesigning packaging and has a fleet of next generation electric delivery vans hitting the streets in 2021.

In a session with Pat DeCola of Nascar/F1 and Miles Kleeger of Braze the conversation moved into targeting new/younger consumers and the environmental impact of race car driving. The expectation that Nascar needs to review and change its practices around fuel emissions and carbon footprint is resulting in a company evolving its services and products to become more environmentally (and consumer) friendly.

All in All

The two-day event truly held a very powerful and cohesive theme around customers and how brands need to deliver authentic, personalized and meaningful experiences to current and future consumers. Partners, agencies, brands, thinkers, disrupters, all who attended had the same thing on their mind – how do we give our customers the highest quality experience? How do we deliver on these promises? How do we give consumers what they need/want/desire in the most frictionless way possible?

Perhaps if we didn’t all find answers, I think that WPP Commerce led many of us in the right direction and maybe many did find the answers they were seeking. If not, there’s always next year to look forward to!

If you would like to learn more about our Commerce Practice and Services at Ogilvy Consulting, please reach out to Vanessa Perry or Ed Kim