In a recent reorganization at General Motors, Deborah Wahl was appointed Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) of the more than 100-year old car brand. Wahl is the first female CMO at GM, and the first CMO since 2012. Her hiring comes at a time when GM is looking to streamline their customer experiences, from end to end, in all sectors of the GM business model.
Mary Barra, CEO of GM, said of Wahl’s hiring, "By aligning marketing across GM under Deborah's leadership, we will build stronger brands while ensuring more effective, efficient and agile customer engagement."
A Streamlined Approach Focused On The Fundamentals
Efficiency is at the core of seamless engagement, whether it’s creating a one-click sale experience or a built-in navigation system, efficiency creates solutions for consumers with a minimum of touchpoints. While on the “Future Focus: With Forbes’ Most Influential CMOs” panel at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas earlier this year, Wahl expressed that same interest in trimming out the excess and focusing on what will benefit GM — and ultimately their customers: “I think the older I get, the more I start focusing more on getting rid of all the extra noise; really focusing on the core of what can drive the business well. When I look back on my career, I did all these great things and had all these shiny toys. Now I need to focus more on the core fundamentals that have to get done.”
Effective Branding Highlighting Company Assets And Strengths
While CMO of GM-owned Cadillac, Wahl re-focused the brand on Cadillac itself, their crest and name, which under a prior CMO had been back-burnered for a high-level concept campaign that often showed few actual cars. At the 2019 Oscars, an event Cadillac has long sponsored, Wahl launched the Rise campaign, both an aspirational message and a literal one meant to highlight Cadillac’s SUV portfolio.
Sophisticated Tech At The Forefront Of GM’s Customer-Based Approach
In a strategic partnership with Google, GM will be bringing new in-vehicle Google technology to their fleet by 2022, including built-in access to Google Assistant for calling, texting and playing tunes and Google Maps for navigation. The partnership is mostly a win-win for both brands, with some concession from GM that their customers don’t want a GM-created infotainment system, but prefer a system that works with the technology they are already using. Meanwhile, Google will gain another outlet to reach their users, with Wired noting “For Google, it’s more direct access to more consumers – GM accounts for 17 percent of new car sales in the US – in the rare place where they’re not supposed to have their phone in their hand.”
Infotainment systems created in-house by auto manufacturers often don’t meet the level of comfort consumers, especially native tech users, have come to expect since the launch of iPhones and mobile Google products. The Google x GM partnership is a natural extension of the car company’s desire to create more agile, less clunky experiences for consumers. “Many of our customers prefer the embedded technology experience in the car,” said Yasser Mirza, Senior Product Manager of GM’s connected commerce platform. “And they expect it to connect with what’s in their hand.”
Across sales and branding, sponsorships and technology, GM is moving toward a more consumer-friendly integrated business model designed to meet the needs of today’s drivers. "We need to create a seamless experience with all of our customer interactions and present a one GM approach," said Dan Flores, GM Spokesperson. "We need to make doing business with GM much simpler and easier from stem to stern. We need to be the best or among the best in any industry when it comes to creating delightful customer experiences that keep people coming back."
Brands across all industries are streamlining their consumer experiences to satisfy the desires of today’s consumers. From General Mills creating a mobile Box Tops app to Etsy encouraging sellers to offer free shipping, removing friction is a retail trend of 2019.
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