Brand Building

From Barbie to Biotech: 3 Keys for Surfing the Next Wave of Enterprise Disruption

Recently, I had an opportunity to attend the “Adobe Marketing Summit” in Las Vegas. Despite the saying “What Happens in Vegas, Stays in Vegas,” I wanted to share the key theme of “Customer Experience” that emerged at the conference. This year’s summit was all about customers and how they interact and relate back to your brand and how to make those experiences relevant. “The next wave of enterprise disruption has arrived: The Experience Business Wave,” said Brad Rencher, EVP & GM Digital Marketing at Adobe.

To craft meaningful customer experiences, you must really know your customers and their preferences; reaching them in one voice across all your marketing channels and surprising them at every touch point with consistent, continuous and contextual experiences. This is especially true in specialty healthcare where the patient journey takes on powerful significance.

As much as I enjoyed listening to conference speakers such as the always-charming George Clooney and inspiring Abby Wambach, the session that really blew me away and motivated me was the powerful story of the Barbie doll’s brand transformation, presented by the President and COO of Mattel, Richard Dickson. Dickson talked about how Mattel, a 70-year-old company with a portfolio of legacy brands saw the decline in their once most popular brand – Barbie – and the steps taken by the company to re-establish that brand and its relationship with customers.


For brand marketers in healthcare who want to catch this experience wave and thrive in the midst of enterprise disruption, consider these key learnings from Mattel:

1). Be Bold
Mattel began its journey as a creations company. Using its creativity and invention, Mattel transformed the paper fashion doll into an iconic Barbie doll in 1959. They revolutionized the marketing industry by being a pioneer in television advertising, and saw a huge lift in their customer base. Mattel was not afraid to take risks and bold steps and by doing that, they found a new way of reaching their customers.

2). Stay Ahead of the Curve
Mattel revolutionized the industry with its inventions, but at some point they became nearsighted and stopped thinking about the future. They didn’t realize how fast customer expectations were changing. Toys were not just toys anymore; they needed to serve a purpose. Competition was increasing. There were new toys, new brands, new content, new media and new games. Mattel failed to stay ahead of the curve and saw the decline in their Barbie brand.

To stay ahead of the curve and solve this challenge, Mattel introduced “Hello Barbie” in 2015 – the most advanced new generation of AI toys. Hello Barbie was the world’s first-ever interactive doll that talked back to the girls, just like “Siri” does. Girls treated them as friends and were delighted to have a two-way conversation with their personal friend.

3). Respond to the Marketplace
Mattel listened to mom, kids, industry experts and changing culture. They turned this data into insights. They quickly realized that Barbie needed to bring the relevancy back. Thus, earlier this year, Mattel launched a new line of Barbie dolls featuring a wide range of body types and skin tones. They introduced diversity to their product line for the first time. Now, Barbie looks more relevant than ever and represents the complex world that little girls experience and see around them. This mindset is especially important in healthcare where diverse patient population groups bring a wide range of expectations and behaviors.

The world around us is constantly changing and with that customer expectations are changing as well, especially in healthcare. The next wave of enterprise disruption – the experience wave has definitely arrived. If you are not prepared for this changing landscape, you and your brand risk getting swept aside. To successfully surf along:

1).  Be Bold. Don’t be afraid to connect with your customers and patients through untraditional marketing channels. Using social channels like Pinterest, create valuable relationships with your customers that transcend their experiences.

2). Stay Ahead of the Curve. Leverage emerging technologies such as wearables and OTT devices to create targeted and personalized experiences, and provide quick, simple and hyper-relevant updates/actions to your customers.

3). Respond to the Marketplace. Listen to your customers through social media reviews, conduct surveys, monitor their behavior and, most importantly, use this data to delight them at every turn of their journey.


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Shweta Neville

Shweta is Director of Business Analysis and Quality Assurance at Cadient. Her role is important in the process of analyzing customer’s goals and incorporating their specific business need and functional requirements into the technical design planning stages. Shweta has created best practices framework for process analysis, governance models and business architecture for technology implementations across the digital marking environment. She also leads the product design and evolution of Cadient Group’s products and platform. Shweta holds a Master of Science degree in computer science from St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia.

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