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J&J’s Richa Goswami says the future of marketing is balancing purpose with personalisation

J&J’s Richa Goswami says the future of marketing is balancing purpose with personalisation

In order to find the world's top marketer, The World Federation of Advertisers (WFA) has once again partnered with The Drum for the Global Marketer of the Year award. Here we interview nominee Richa Goswami about how she’s turned FMCG giant Johnson & Johnson’s business into a digitally-savvy industry leader.

Richa Goswami leads J&J’s digital efforts globally and yet she’s humbled and surprised at being considered among the industry heavyweights for the WFA marketer of the year title. It’s partly down to Goswami’s personality, which makes her a very open and approachable leader, but also a testament to a shift that’s seeing more Asia-based marketers stepping up to the global stage as we enter the ‘Asian Century’.

Goswami labels herself consumer obsessed and she’s particularly proud of the work throughout her career in which she’s gained the trust and business of harder to reach younger consumers, or millennials, for traditional and arguable old-school businesses like J&J and Standard Chartered. With 60% of the world’s millennials residing in Asia Pacific, Goswami has the geography, pedigree and experience to be able to talk about youth, innovation and connections.

She explains that at Standard Chartered, where she was looking after the personal banking segment for strategy and positioning, she was tasked with understanding what a younger, millennial generation wanted from a traditional brand.

“The ability to understand what that disruption really meant and being able to then go in and create products and services to solve for that, I think was a great opportunity and a great learning. We did that across Korea, Japan, China, India, Hong Kong and Singapore, all very diverse markets in Asia. You learn a lot as you work with millennials and I think I've been able to bring that into J&J because when we look at our brands, most of them are targeting the millennial consumer. So even moms, millennial moms are different to maybe the mom that I was, the way you talk to her, the way you connect with her is different,” she says.

Her point of focus isn’t always millennials, however, and she says that solving a problem for consumers is ultimately what drives her passion for marketing.

“I've always been someone that loves ambiguity and I love being able to go into a green space and carve something out of that. Most of my career opportunities, whether it was working with HSBC on Direct Bank in Taiwan, whether it was creating our first money transfer so that people, that immigrants all over from the US could send money home, whether they were Mexican or Chinese or Indian. It's always been about understanding what the consumer need is and being able to translate that into a service or a proposition. Of course, there's always failure attached to being the first out of the gate, but when I think of career highlights, those have shaped me as much as the successes. So if I could do it all again, I would,” she says.

Goswami’s attitude to failure in part comes from a decision to quit her successful banking career and move into launching a health-based start-up, as she wanted a future in which she could impact lives for the better. She ended up leaving the start-up world for J&J but not without taking some courage towards failure with her. In the five years Goswami has spent at J&J since then, she says her job changes every year.

This is partly because the challenge to move a business forward digitally is ever increasing in complexity and opportunity.

“I always look at challenges as opportunities and when I look at the industry, whether it's banking or whether it's healthcare, whether it's FMCG, 52% of fortune 500 companies since 2000 no longer exist. We are all being disrupted by start-ups and we can't afford to do what we've always done and expect different results. So it's really about, do you innovate or become irrelevant?” she asks.

The challenges, or opportunities, she sees are the pace of change in consumers and the competitive landscape and the fact that this is propelled by data.

“At J&J, we've got very robust first party, second party and third party data strategies and we're working on that. The opportunity is how fast can you change your marketing organization as well because we've had immense success working in a different style, and that’s important because you're trying to teach a new muscle. Some people will inherently lean in and some need a bit more training to do that. I don't think of it as a challenge because once you acknowledge that, you know what needs to be done. I'd be very focused on driving HR within workshops and training the workforce. I'm sure would be the same thing you would hear whether it's any of our competitors or anyone else in the industry,” adds Goswami.

It is within the ever-changing role at J&J that Goswami’s found a home for her consumer obsession and the want to make a change in the world. However, in being charged with forwarding the digital mission, her focus is on how to balance purpose with personalisation.

“I think where we are headed is how do you balance purpose and personalization. We all talk about how consumers want an experience that is personalized, whether that gets delivered through our products or whether that gets delivered through the content or the creative or the messaging. That's where the Holy grail is, or the Nirvana is. At the same time, I think consumers are also asking our brands to stand up and be authentic and be purpose-led. For us, we are trying to get that unique balance of purpose and personalization that I think is rare. If I look across the world, it is where we're headed with our brands and the work that we're doing,” she explains.

You can vote for Goswami, or the other finalists for the WFA Marketer of the Year Award, here.

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