“Change,” Brian McDevitt, managing director of home and personal care at Google, told the audience at the WWD Beauty CEO Summit, is the only constant.
For Google, McDevitt said, change has been a key component of the organization since its infancy, noting that the company is always changing, always growing because it was built to do so.
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During the pandemic, nearly all businesses faced a digital transformation — which McDevitt points out can be exhausting for enterprises that are now in a state of constant transformation.
“My provocation to all of you is that if we have to transform all the time, we’re going to get burned out,” said McDevitt. “Is there a better way? Is there a way in which we can think about change as an ‘always on’ muscle, as something that we weave and sew into the fabric of our organizations into how we use technology that allows us to embrace what’s coming next?”
Google, he said, has two core values that it uses to help inform the discussion. The first is to focus on the user, or being obsessive over consumer insights. The second is betting on technical insights and asking what transformational changes in technology can deliver outsized growth. Google is calling the approach “route to ready.”
Route to ready, McDevitt said is not believed to be a long journey or a grand overhaul and won’t be the same for every company. Instead, the process relies on breaking down silos, implementing shorter more agile planning and bringing together talent from across an organization. Moreover, Google’s route to ready can be a step-by-step process that can be approached from multiple waypoints.
“There are two ways to think about it,” said Devitt. “The outside in, the consumer perspective, and the inside out — what’s happening within your business. In building your brand’s route to ready, it’s important that you name the resistance in beauty. We have such a dynamic consumer, and they are changing. They’re caring about ingredients, they’re being influenced by a variety of different voices and they’re changing at a speed that is pretty difficult to keep up with. And there are a lot of silos that preclude brands from acting at the speed of the consumer.”
Considering the perspective of the consumer, brands need to establish a route to the consumer’s heart. Brands today need to stand for something. Consumers are watching and in the last two years especially, they have become more empowered to shop from brands or companies that represent the values they want to see and show representation. A significant example of this can be seen in the increase to a record high for Google searches with the modifier “for Black skin” in 2020.
A brand also needs to have a route to the consumer’s time, a route to gain trust and a route to drive purchase. “The pandemic upended two key themes,” said McDevitt. “Where consumers purchase and how they purchase. At Google, we see across many different platforms and the reality is, the consumer purchase journey is more omnichannel than ever.”
Meanwhile, from a business perspective, McDevitt said, “it’s important to focus on areas such as customer-centric marketing, outcomes and agility and data and insights to build impact and sustained value.” Key components in this are being transparent, being predictive, and breaking silos.
Put simply, McDevitt said, “This does not have to be a massive transformation. This journey will be deeply customized based on your company’s needs, on what makes the most sense for your business. This is a mind-set shift.”