A Forge ARticle 

The CMO perspective: The Forge’s talk at Quirk’s London 2024

We were extremely grateful to host two insightful CMOs at our Quirk’s London 2024 panel –Anthony Wells and Mark Roberts. The conversation illuminated several insights on how brand managers can drive volume and value growth. These are our key takeaways:

Define the challenges to growth

Be holistic about this. Anthony shared the example of Avon UK, where challenges to growth came from both brand equity and its direct sales business model. By evolving the sales model, and driving to digital, the brand evolved its equity and reach.

Find your anchor

Understanding the role you play in consumers’ lives – their occasions, their overall budget (not just the amount they spend on your category), their shopping behaviours – is key. Once that role is defined, ensure you play that role consistently and distinctively. To do this you need to…

Focus on the ‘Three C’s – clarity, collaboration and creativity

Clarity: Being sharp around your benefit, the role you play in consumers’ lives and how each element of your proposition reinforces that.

Collaboration: encouraging everyone within the company to share this understanding AND making it a shared mission within the company – not allowing it to be delegated to one department or area of the brand proposition.

Anthony highlighted how, unsurprisingly, founder-led companies excel at as their values and their sense of mission gave a sense of common cause to rally behind

For others, it may be that foundational research – such as demand spaces – helps root everyone in a shared understanding of the role the brand plays and builds momentum within all functions.

Not being afraid to be playful and bold in how you manifest that vision – being ambitious and creative in grabbing mental availability.

Elevate the emotion

While it’s tempting in an increasingly value-driven market to focus on functional differentiation, identifying the emotional core of the benefits you offer is key to driving perceived value. Mark’s example of Fruitella showed that by moving from the WHAT the brand offered (naturalness, fruit) to a SO WHAT (shared joyful moments between parent and child) the brand could deliver a more engaging story, more concisely across all its touchpoints 

But keep championing the product superiority

Anthony had an interesting provocation that having spent years measuring the attribute of ‘worth paying more for’, brands today should challenge themselves to ask ‘are we worth what we cost?’. Having a superior product remains key, especially given the strength of private label, and ensuring that superiority remains clear through all of the ‘Ps’ is critical

Think of your shopper – and your buyer

Shoppers buy into categories for specific benefits, yet too often this is lost in a sea of ‘stuff’. Remember the role your category plays in consumers’ lives – what are they looking for when they shop your category or those closest to you? Be exceptional at offering that – whether it’s the theatre of fun and playfulness in confectionary, or encouraging experimentation and creativity in beauty.

Come up with ideas that make your buyers look great in their businesses, elevating perceptions and footfall of your shelf, not just yourself.

NPD is part of the picture but it is far from a quick fix

NPD requires enormous investment from all parts of the business and can fall down at many stages. As tempting as it is to see NPD as ‘new news’ to excite the category, it’s important to ask if your problem is actually going to be solved by something new – especially in an era where, as Mark pointed out, ‘shelves are not elastic’?

If there is a need for NPD, make sure it builds on what the brand is all about, strengthening and building its core equity, not taking it in a new direction.

Have a question for us?

Let us know how we can help.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.


Receive our thinking before it is published.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.