Pepsico Mauro Porcini FUSSY Singapore

Mauro Porcini on How Brands Can Stay Relevant and Engaging

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We first saw Mauro Porcini at agIdeas International Design Forum 2012 in Melbourne, where he was the Head of Global Design at 3M. He’s currently the Chief Design Officer at PepsiCo and he has once again left us with a lot to absorb, at the Innovation by Design Conference 2017.
Mauro talked about staying relevant in today’s connected world and it had some similarities with Barry Wacksman’s talk about designing functional ecosystems. So Mauro mentioned that people don’t just buy products anymore; they want to buy an experience. They search for holistic solutions, meaningful experiences and authentic stories.

  • Consumers consume content at the speed of light.
  • Brands do not just compete with their direct competitors, they compete with everything. From the latest Beyonce’s song to a mobile phone from Apple or Samsung. So in order to compete with them, brands need to produce content at a very high frequency.
What are the challenges that brands/companies face?
  • Relevance
  • We are bombarded with new content everyday. Brands need to understand how things are changing on a daily basis and they need to be immersed in what is happening, in order to produce content that consumers are actually interested in and can relate to.

  • Frequency and Speed
  • Companies need to move fast. The old approach to brand building was sequential and slow, which does not work anymore.

  • Authenticity
  • Brands need to be authentic. While it’s easy for entrepreneurs to be authentic since they are starting on a small scale, it gets tougher when you’re scaling it up. Especially for a brand like Pepsi to be authentic across the world, when you activate the brand thousands of times a day, in the hands of consumers. Whether it’s in the aisle of a mart or in the hands of Lady Gaga during the Superbowl, or with a model in Milan Fashion Week. How can you be consistent with who you are and still slightly change your behavior or execution in order to be relevant in the culture and geographical context you are in?
Brands design experiences.
  • Design Experiences
  • Experience is = People + Product/Service/Brand (Solution) + Context (Of purchase + of use) x time

    The ‘formula’ above explains what an experience it. It’s a person interacting with a product or service or a brand, and where it is being used or purchased, in what amount of time.

    Ask designers to design a story. The practical journey. From the idea of buying it, to disposing of it, to using it, to storing it, to dismissing it. That experience, that journey.


  • Design the meaning of those Experiences
  • There are two level of interactions between the product/brand and the consumer.

    Firstly, it’s a personal pleasure or reassurance, feeling good about the brand or product. For example, buying a pair of Prada shoes and you just really like it, even though the brand might not be on the outside of the shoe. That feeling you have, is one interaction.

    Secondly, it’s what the product/brand is communicating about you to others. Like your watch, the shoes you’re wearing or the car you drive. Everything that surrounds you tells a story about you, to others. That outward expression of telling a story about you and what others see you as, is the second interaction.


  • How do you design the meaning of those Experiences?
  • There are many ways in which you may do so, but one of them is called The Emotional Flow, with 3 different relations – visceral, interactive and expressive.

  • 1. Visceral Relation
  • To look and be attracted to a product even though you do not know what it is. Even if you may hate it after looking at the product, at least it has attracted your attention and created a reaction out of you.

  • 2. Interactive Relation
  • Two examples that can easily explain this is with Gatorade GX and Fizz.

    Fizz was launched at Makers Faire in New York City. It was a communication event with a specific ROI. But it was really to prototype and see consumers reaction. By getting the feedback, they can tweak it and become better and more confident whilst lowering risks.


  • 3. Expressive Relation
  • It’s about you being happy about your experience that you want to share it with your family and friends. It’s about thinking about the brand and making it as relevant as possible to the consumer, so that they will want to be associated with the brand.

    Pepsi even created a GX Gym in order to further reach their consumers and to elevate the Gatorade GX experience, not forgetting the Super Bowl.

Here is an outline of the interactions and perspectives of both consumers and businesses.
We can’t just talk to people anymore, we have to do things. Start designing meaningful experiences for your customers and engaging in activities or events that actually interest them.

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