Panel Addresses the Science and Art of Metrics

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NEW YORK ( -- The idea for the mid-calorie cola Pepsi Edge languished in the recesses of Pepsi-Cola North America until astute number-crunchers at the Purchase, N.Y.-based beverage

Pepsi's chief marketing officer, Dave Burwick, said number-crunchers triggered the launch of Pepsi Edge.
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maker analyzed consumer behavior data and found that the number of consumers who drink both regular and diet soft drinks has grown more than 70% in the past two years.

"That led us to take a project that had been back-burnered" and bring it to market, said Dave Burwick, senior vice president and chief marketing officer for Pepsi-Cola. The drink hits selected stores this month.

The CMOs
Mr. Burwick was one of four panelists speaking today at AdWatch: Outlook 2004, a daylong conference at the Sheraton New York Hotel and Towers, presented by Advertising Age and TNS Media Intelligence/CMR. Joining Mr. Burwick on the panel were Carter Cast, senior vice president of marketing and merchandising for Wal-Mart Inc. and; Christopher Carroll, director of marketing for Subway's Franchisee Advertising Fund Trust; and Cammie Dunaway, chief marketing officer for Yahoo!

Marketing today is all about finding the right mix of strategy and tactics, the panelists agreed. Mr. Burwick put the balance at 20% strategy and 80% tactics.

Wealth of information
But all marketers are grappling with how best to use the wealth of analytical information now available, thanks to improved technology, which is shifting the extent to which marketing is an art rather than a science. Wal Mart's Mr. Cast noted that CEO Jeff Bezo's hiring of a "bunch of Ph.D. statisticians to ensure that products are priced fairly pegged to demand ... is one example for us all that without a doubt analytical prowess is increasingly important."

The key, said Ms. Dunaway, is tapping the best so-called actionable insight from all the information a marketer has about the consumer.

Baseball analogy
With so much data available, sorting the useful from the less so is tough. One source of inspriration, said Mr. Burwick, is a book by Michael Lewis called Moneyball, which details how the general manager of the Oakland A's assembled a winning baseball team by analyzing numbers on player statistics collected by amateur baseball enthusiasts.

"Our entire plan for 2004 is based on thoughts that came out of that book, which is all about figuring out which metrics matter," Mr. Burwick said. "We learn from our mistakes," he acknowledged.

Another challenge, panelists agreed, is managing the increasingly complex issues that arise when striving to market products or services responsibly. For instance, childhood obesity, a growing health problem in the U.S., is also one of the most difficult issues for many of the country's top marketers, particularly those in the restaurant, packaged goods and beverage industries.

Perhaps the first fast-food marketer to position its menu as diet-friendly, behind ads featuring consumers who lost weight eating its fare, Subway now faces increased competition from rivals seeking to craft a more health-conscious position for themselves that consumers will respond to. Marketers need to create a message that successfully balances awareness of and sensitivity toward a flash-point topic. "Customers don't want to be talked to about it," Subway's Mr. Carroll said.

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Kate MacArthur contributed to this report.

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