We got to rip up the business model of the past & reinvent a new one: John Sheehy

The Global Brand President of Starcom Worldwide shared insights on the tension that sits between people and brands & the emerging consumer desire lines

e4m by exchange4media Staff
Updated: Aug 28, 2020 12:59 PM
John Sheehy

The first day of the e4m e-TechManch Digital Virtual Conference saw an invigorating keynote session graced by John Sheehy - Global Brand President, Starcom Worldwide. He was speaking on the topic 'Delivering Human & Business Outcomes in Recessionary/COVID Time'.

As part of the session, Sheehy shared his thoughts on changing consumer behaviour and how these changes will drive newer opportunities for marketers. Speaking of why putting the consumer at the center of everything we do is so critical, Sheehy remarked, "Recessions create new behaviours as people experience changes to their purchasing power and needs. In my view the experiences that we create for people have never been more important.”

Furthermore, he discussed how the wants of people and brands are often out of alignment. According to him, as people adapt to the new normal of COVID-19, this gap has only become more apparent. "We are acting on insights and ideas and staying ahead of the competition. As people’s needs and desire lines are changing we are shifting with them,” he stated.

Sheehy explored the tension that sits between people and brands, offering insights on emerging consumer desire lines during these recessionary and pandemic times. “As a human experience company, one of the things that we're most focused on is answering the question of what we should do next by looking at the consumer. And we do that by looking at what we call ‘desire lines’. At Starcom, we recognise that consumers are messy and unpredictable. What we do is that we try to uncover across categories and brands, what people are actually doing and the core desire lines. We observe that consumers often plan out a part to go down straight paths, but we often see them take the wrong path. And we call these desire lines, and what we're doing across Starcom for our categories across our markets and our brands are taking a closer look at the consumer and looking at where the desire lines are shifting and what behaviors are taking place,” he explained.

Sheehy also touched upon the various phases people have gone through with the Covid 19 pandemic. “2020 is a year of the greatest disruption. And that's certainly taken an impact. We've all gone through phase one in COVID, where we are adjusting and getting fit for purpose, whether it's media and messaging. We've gone through a phase two of COVID, where we're responding. We are reacting to the changes of consumer habits, behaviours, rituals, and importantly we're seeing a third phase of this, which I think is probably the most important one. And that's the recessionary pressure we're all going to get into,” he asserted.

He spoke about the future in terms of what we should experience, going about it when we create the new business models to deal with, not just COVID, but the recessionary forces that are upon us. “I think we're going to pivot from the greatest disruption that we're likely to see in our careers to certainly the greatest opportunities of 2021 and beyond,” Sheehy exclaimed.

He also shared his key learnings around the shift to a fast-learning culture, leaning into digital speed and the reinvention mindset.
“We are leaning into a fast learning culture. The second thing that we're doing is leaning into digital speed. I would argue that two of the critical things that we're seeing in applying are both data and technology to move faster and a more agile way,” Sheehy asserted.

He spoke about the learn-fast culture. “Today we are seeing unprecedented changes in consumer behavior habits and rituals that are taking place now and will continue to take place. And brands that are going to win are going to be able to change their business so they can sense and respond in real time,” Sheehy observed.

He also shed light on the ability to look at insights in real time and recession readiness. "We’ve created a proprietary Recession Readiness scorecard at Starcom and we are helping our clients diagnose through key metrics and indicators,” he explained.

“We know that the recession lasts longer than we anticipate. The answer is in a world of uncertainty. There's gonna be some bets we're gonna have to place,” he advised. Decoding the digital speed aspect of it and its essence, Sheehy said, "Digital speed is what helps you become a Fast Learn Culture. It isn’t just about consumers, it’s also about how the people within your internal organizations are working, connecting and collaborating.”

“In order to succeed, we got to rip up the business model of the past and reinvent the new one. Understand what digital speed really is and get there before a competition does. Lastly, right now is the biggest opportunity, we'll have in our careers and disruption is always a catalyst for winners. So now is the time to do something different,” Sheehy said, concluding his power-packed keynote.

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