Tuesday, July 9th, 2019 | 4 min read
When a company has been around for a number of years (or decades), it’s easy to fall into the trap of complacency. Things are going smoothly, so why make a big change? The fact is, that in order to grow and succeed long term, change is necessary.
In business, outside factors such as market shifts and consumer behavior often inform those changes, but ultimately, it’s the business leaders who decide whether to move forward or stay the course. Those who blaze new trails are usually the ones worth remembering.
Sometimes, products and processes need a complete reimagining to compete in a changing world. Fortunately, with the right leaders at the helm, brands can navigate rough waters to find a new path.
Here are three CMOs who’ve not only reshaped their companies, but entire industries.
To say that online shopping has become the norm would be an understatement in modern commerce. The convenience of Amazon has gone beyond gifts and groceries — it’s now a draw for car shoppers, too.
Under Dean Evans’ leadership as CMO, Hyundai built a virtual showroom on Amazon’s platform, allowing users to browse options, check reviews (something buyers would be hard-pressed to find at brick-and-mortar showroom), and find the nearest dealership.
There’s even an Amazon Alexa Skill for owners of newer Hyundais (beginning with select 2016 models). The Hyundai Blue Link Skill allows drivers to Remote Start from inside their homes, set interior car temperatures, double check that doors are locked, start and stop electric charging, control the horn and lights, and more using Alexa. It’s a new world of automotive discovery.
Britta Seeger’s job is to introduce Mercedez-Benz to new audiences. To do that, she’s taken the brand places it had never been before — literally.
Thanks to Seeger’s vision, Mercedez-Benz has sponsored events like SXSW, Burning Man, and Coachella in an effort to bring the cars to the people, rather than asking people to visit dealerships.
The brand is also opening pop-up stores in new markets rather than relying on the traditional brick-and-mortar model to sell cars. By creating a sense of excitement and exclusivity around these pop-up events, there’s a greater desire to stop in and see what they’re all about. Potential buyers are drawn to the brand, rather than to a particular car.
When you picture a Harley-Davidson rider, there’s probably a certain image that comes to mind. As CMO and SVP Marketing and Brand for Harley-Davidson, Heather Malenshek aims to change that.
The More Roads to Harley-Davidson campaign is designed to attract a larger rider-base with new product options. The LiveWire electric motorcycle was introduced this year as the brand’s first foray into electric power. More electric models will be introduced that are smaller and lighter, in addition to standard fuel-based motorcycles, which are also getting new, lightweight product roll-outs.
But new bikes are only part of Harley-Davidson’s ongoing strategy. Malenshek understands the importance of digital in modern retail, and has been working to bring the iconic brand online through e-commerce partnerships. The brand is also experimenting with new, smaller storefronts in prime urban locations to drive mass appeal. By making the products more easily accessible, the brand hopes to inspire a new generation of Harley enthusiasts.
As these marketing pros have proven, it takes creativity and a true understanding of market trends to keep a brand relevant across generations. CMOs need to listen not only to customer requests, but to everyday conversations to see what people are talking about, and find opportunities to contribute to those discussions.
What sets Hyundai, Mercedes-Benz, and Harley-Davidson apart from others is their willingness to enter new marketplaces and partner with brands that are well-versed in the modern arenas. It’s this combination of product innovation and marketing evolution that allows companies to completely reshape their industries as a whole.
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