'The most successful brands take a stand' - Johnson & Johnson's global baby president on brands creating social good and Cannes Lions Health

With Cannes Lions fast approaching, Debra Bass, global baby president, Johnson & Johnson Consumer, speaks to The Drum about her views on Lions Health this year, which she will be attending as a speaker, and shares her thoughts on marketing for social good and the growing importance of data.

What are you hoping to see from the winning entries at this year’s Lions Health?

First, I expect to learn a lot. Any work celebrated at the Cannes Lions Health Awards is of the highest caliber, so I’m sure I’ll find all the work very inspiring and even take some ideas back with me that can help our business. For the winning entries, I expect to see innovative ways in which teams have used creativity to tackle a business challenge. I want to see an approach that shows real insight into their audience and execution that screams ingenuity and imagination.

How much do you believe that a brand which stands for something and aims to drive some form of social good can benefit itself as a result?

The most successful brands take a stand, have a point of view, and use a clear voice to connect with their audience. Today’s generation of consumers yearn for higher purpose and authenticity – and they know when you’re faking it. By speaking clearly and authentically, we are able to drive potential sales and, even more important, foster deep brand loyalty.

How do you see consumer behavior changing when it comes to purchase habits around babies?

What is timeless and universal is that moms around the world want what’s best for their baby. That said, there are a few new behaviors that are changing the baby care category. The first is that the back label takes precedence over the front label, as moms look for ingredients that are both high-quality and safe. Second, the array of influencers has expanded. Today’s moms are seeking advice not just from healthcare professionals and their own moms but also from a global community of influencers who share their experiences. Finally, we’re seeing moms choose premium brands that offer an attractive product and packaging aesthetics.

How important do you believe social influencers are to the future successes of your brands?

Social Influencers are critical to driving brand awareness, engagement, and advocacy. Moms look to other moms that are 'like them' for advice and insights on raising their families. Peer-to-peer recommendations hold more influence than ever before when it comes to moms choosing products for their baby. And influencers can help drive brand loyalty, too. If a mom truly believes in a brand, she will become one of its strongest and most vocal advocates.

We are seeing more and more data generated by apps and technology. As a marketer, what data do you personally seek out and which tech or platforms would you recommend to other marketers in general?

Technology enables brands to better connect with their target consumer in a personalized way during the key moments that matter most to that consumer. This connection allows for a value exchange that can ultimately help build brand advocacy. One way we’re using data and technology to connect with parents is by supporting them during an important (and often challenging) time of day – bedtime. We created the Johnson's Bedtime Sleep App to help parents track data about their baby’s sleep routine so that they can establish and personalize a nightly ritual based on their baby’s unique habits and changing needs.

The Drum’s concentrates on how marketing can change the world – what is your view on that statement? How do marketers make a difference to society?

As marketers, I believe we can only truly affect change if our work follows three core principles: Empathize, Engage and Empower. First we must empathize with our consumer. That means understanding their daily lives and challenges and discovering what really matters to them. With these core insights in hand, it is our job to create content that is engaging and connects with them in a meaningful way. Finally, we need to go beyond just engagement and provide them with content that empowers and inspires them to unleash their own potential. If we do all of these things I believe we have the potential to change the world and make a difference.

Bass, will speak at Cannes Lions Health on the theme of collaboration. She will be introduced by R. John, Fidelino, executive creative director for Interbrand Health.

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