Entries in marketing (6)


A transparent approach to AI

Artificial intelligence is considered by many tech industry leaders to be the most significant computing area currently under development, with the power to transform and disrupt business models, labor markets, marketing and customer engagement.

Facebook’s approach to AI seems to be fundamentally different from its giant competitors in this field (Google, Microsoft, Apple), not in the fields they research, but in the way the company goes about it. In a word, that approach is “open."

Instead of hiding its R&D, Facebook publishes its code online on open source platforms, engages the scientific and external communities through sharing instead of protecting its knowledge, and tries to take advantage of the intrinsically "anti-rival” property of knowledge. It is their way as latecomers to the AI party to catch up to rivals, and they seem to be picking up some momentum (check out this article Fast Company)

-- Yassine El Ouarzazi


Catalyst Content Briefing

In this week's look at what else is new and interesting: » MUTUALITY LAB • Developing external knowledge sources and the importance of internal connections • The effect of population decline on the economy and the labor force » CULTURE LAB • A performance culture does not necessarily drive strategy execution • Developing and nurturing a successful intrapreneurship process » DEMAND LAB • Facebook develops tool allowing advertisers to monitor, determine relevance of ads • Marketers take notice of sensory-based marketing

Click to read more ...


Patagonia's approach to values

Outdoor apparel company Patagonia appears to break the rules of how consumer goods companies approach marketing, profit, and consumer communications. Despite this--or because of it--the company is a success story, tripling its profitability and doubling in size over the past few years.

Some examples of Patagonia's unorthodox approach include:

  • Running Black Friday advertising saying "don't buy this jacket"
  • Sharing (certain) innovations with competitors
  • Using company funds to support (potentially polarizing) issues the company believes in

Rose Marcario, Patagonia's CEO, was interviewed by Fast Company this month and the conversation turned to these apparent paradoxes. Marcario's response centered on the companies values: since its founding, Patagonia has placed value on the quality and durability of its products and a respect for the planet and the environment. By making a durable product, backed by a full guarantee, customers don't need to buy as much, reducing the overall environmental impact. Mercario believes that customers seek out Patagonia because they know what the company stands for. She also notes that the company has more freedom to express its values due to its private ownership.

Being a private company really gives you a lot of ability to express yourself and not be confined by this mentality that profit has primacy over all things."

Of course, Patagonia is not the largest (or most affordable) outdoor apparel brand, but we find Ms. Marcario's perspective interesting in that she seems to be describing her company's take on quality, responsibility, freedom, and mutuality. What do you think?

-- Clara Shen

Image source:


Soylent: Silicon Valley hacking food sector?

Soylent, the San Francisco-based meal replacement company, is reportedly raising just over $10 million in funding, after raising $1.5 million in venture capital last year.

Soylent is a bland, shake-style product that purports to contain all the fat, protein, energy and nutrients a person requires. It is not a typical nutritional supplement in that it was designed to be a lifestyle choice, for people who don't want to be bothered with the "inconvenience" of cooking or buying more complex meals. A byproduct of Silicon Valley culture for tech industry movers and shakers who don't have time to eat.

Creator and chief executive Rob Rhinehart gave his homemade concoction a 30-day try back in 2013, writing at the time that “not worrying about food is fantastic,” and that he felt “liberated from a crushing amount of repetitive drudgery.”

The concept could have significant implications--direct and indirect--for areas of the world where malnutrition is a serious concern. However, for the moment it is following the trajectory of a tech startup.

The brand name is taken, consciously, from the 1973 movie "Soylent Green," though the compay's VP of marketing assured the Wall Street Journal that “is not made of humans.”

Image sources: Soylent/Rosa Labs and IMDB

--Clara Shen



Catalyst: Cracking Complex Business Challenges for Mars

When Associates think about research at Mars, many point to our efforts in cocoa sustainability or WALTHAM’s study on human animal interaction. But did you know that Mars also has its very own Think Tank that delivers solutions to some of our most complex business challenges? 

For more than five decades, Mars has invested in Catalyst, a distinctive capability made of highly skilled, diverse Associates with unique access to experts. Catalyst takes creative risks to conceptualize, develop and pilot breakthrough business solutions to help position Mars purposefully in the thought leadership space.  Catalyst’s work has been recognized as cutting edge by scientific and business communities and continues to be a source of competitive advantage for Mars.

“By harnessing innovative and abstract ideas from a vast pool of stakeholders, including internal, external and academic experts, Catalyst unlocks transformational business strategies,” said Bruno Roche, Chief Economist and Managing Director of Catalyst.  “We strive to be a change agent for Mars, helping the company deliver long-term growth that we can be proud of.”

Catalyst is behind some of our company’s most exciting initiatives, including:

  • The launch of new inclusive business model pilots with Wrigley of Kenya and in the Philippines, in slums and remote areas where Financial Capital is scarce.  These pilots have demonstrated that delivering and measuring Human Capital (individual well-being) & Social Capital (trust within a community) among the Wrigley micro-entrepreneurs is a driver of increasing Financial Capital -- a major breakthrough that is unlocking a sustainable route to market, and that is scaling up.
  • A partnership with the Said Business School at Oxford University to co-develop a new management theory whereby Mutuality is driving business performance – through modified management practices and metrics; and
  • A contribution to a special edition of “the Brewery,” for the World Economic Forum in Davos in January, 2014.

Additionally, through its Labs, Catalyst is working to harness abstract ideas and transform them into strategies to help the company deliver growth. For instance, the Demand Lab has made great strides to bring discipline and rigor to our marketing activities by utilizing insights from applied mathematics, statistics and data mining, as well as psychology, cognitive sciences, neurosciences, ethnography, and behavioral economics. The results have been incredible – through its work, the Marketing Lab has doubled the efficiency of Mars’ advertising and deciphered the role of media in the laws of growth for our brands, bringing huge savings to the business and giving Mars a set of capabilities envied by our competition.

Catalyst has also made great achievements through its Culture Lab, which has developed a ‘best practice’ integration of acquisitions into Mars (based on a fusion of sociology and business anthropology), bringing huge value and enabling smooth cultural integrations. Furthermore, Catalyst’s Mutuality Lab has influenced the company’s 25-year vision, Mars' recent corporate branding, and is developing a new holistic performance measurement system for mutuality across the entirety of our business & identifying corresponding management practices to enact mutuality (Economics of Mutuality program).

'The only thing we have in common at Catalyst is that we have nothing in common,' an associate once observed. Catalyst is not a traditional team, by design.  It strives to be an agile organization made of associates & fellows from different backgrounds, nationalities, walks-of-life with a common passion to leverage values, sciences & knowledge to improve the world, and a relentless conviction that business/entrepreneurship is a powerful vehicle to achieve this goal.  Over its lifetime, Catalyst has demonstrated that Forrest Mars Sr's 1967's intuition that 'management is to apply sciences to economic problems' was correct. "The economic problems of today are not the same as in 1967, the sciences have also evolved in a dramatic way, yet Catalyst’s approach to transform abstract academic thinking into breakthrough business solutions and a means to ensure changes 'stick' culturally remains more relevant today than ever. " said Bruno.

So what’s next for Catalyst?

--Bruno Roche