Your Assembly Recap: Transformational CMO & Retail

  • By Katie Perry
  • in ,
  • on March 15, 2021

Contributed by Katie Perry and Elizabeth Radziul

The Transformational CMO & Retail Virtual Assembly wrapped up last week, and it was a hit. Our C-Suite members discussed digital marketing strategy, changing consumer behavior, and the trends that will stick around in 2021. 

In case you missed it…

Lessons Learned from Our Keynote Speakers

On day one of the Assembly, Millennium Alliance Advisory Board member and Co-Founder and CEO at Bell + Ivy, Cynthia Johnson, sat down for a fireside chat with Karina Kogan, Senior Vice President, Head of Global Product Marketing at Peloton. They discussed Peloton’s journey to turning the COVID-19 crisis into an opportunity for change. When the country shut down on March 15, Peloton had to immediately pivot. They applied Peloton’s “members first” mentality by launching their 90 day free trial on the Peloton app to promote wellness during an unprecedented time. Karina went on to explain how this led to exponential growth in membership and their following. The challenge at first was awareness, but through word of mouth and the free trial, Peloton raised enough awareness for the app to accelerate growth for Peloton, paving the way for future digital transformation.

karina kogan keynote

Day two began with a Keynote Panel led by Dawn Lerman, Professor of Marketing and Executive Director, Center for Positive Marketing, Fordham University on the disappearing role of the CMO. Panelists included Ashish Agarwal from Humana, Michael Challinger from Wilton Brands, Carolyn Pollock from Tailored Brands, Helen Vaid from Yum Brands (Pizza Hut), and Samantha Wu from Facebook. The consensus was that the CMO role is not going away completely, but it is changing significantly. As brand loyalty and consumer relationships become more important and digital and eCommerce grow, the CMO must work closely with Chief Brand Officers, Chief Experience Officer, Chief Digital Officer, and other executives to act as an advocate for the consumer. 

Engaging Discussions with C-Suite Executives and Thought Leaders

Jason Lambert of Anheuser-Busch InBev led a workshop on digitally transforming centuries-old companies. Customer journey research is essential when undergoing digital transformation. It is also important to eliminate pain points and elevate positive points of the traditional customer experience model when creating a digital model.

Next, Lauren Beckstedt, Chief Marketing Officer at Brunswick Corporation discussed how digital experience can drive conversion. She made the point that consumers are willing to pay more for convenience and ease, which is creating waves in the luxury space. Nurturing engagement and leveraging data in your cross-business commercialization is the key to delivering stronger conversion. 

Jaina Wald, Vice President of Marking at Puratos Corporation discussed how consumers have had many behavior shifts amid COVID-19. Jaina and her colleague, Meg Schneider, Associate Manager of Insights & Training, shared how emotions played a large role in these shifts. Social isolation inspired creativity, but in turn changed how people purchased, especially in the baking industry. There was a change in generation brand dependency and a boom in eCommerce as technology advanced. Additionally, consumers still want to indulge, but in small ways such as a donut. All in all, consumers want brands that care about social movements. 

For the next workshop, Edwin Wong from Vox Media talked about how journalism will play a role in the rebuilding of society as we know it. While media is polarized, most people believe that we are more similar than we are different. The trouble is figuring out now to navigate away from “polarizing media” and create trustworthy journalism. He notes that brands play a role in shaping these narratives, and brands that stand for social responsibility build long-term equity, especially among the younger generation. Consumers expectations for change are increasing, and brands that can keep up will be successful.

The final session of the Assembly was led by Raghu Iyengar, Professor at The Wharton School. He tackled the topic of subscription programs, which include media subscriptions, replenishment subscriptions, curation subscriptions, and exclusive benefits subscriptions. For this session he focused on premium benefits subscriptions, which offer exclusive benefits to members, but also sell to non-members. Some factors to consider are the causal impact of a program on behavior, heterogeneity of customers, and which benefits have an effect on business. 

What’s New From Our Solution Providers?


Donna Tuths from Sutherland led a workshop on online reviews and consumers’ trust in reviews as opposed to traditional advertising. Reviews can provide insights on how to improve your business, and good reviews can lead to increased sales. Some ways to make the most of your customer reviews include showing reviews and ratings on your product site, prioritizing review requests for products with a low volume, and responding and engaging with customers on their reviews. 


Garin Hobbs from Iterable discusses Customer Loyalty and Personalization from the execution side, which involves bringing together the perfect pairing: customer and experience. Customers are more connected and cognizant than ever. They are exploring, judging, and expecting more, so brands must learn how to deliver. Four areas of focus are required to connect with the customer and increase loyalty: the right person, the right message, the right time and the right preferences. He notes that brand affinity should dictate messaging in order to deliver the personalized messages that will increase loyalty.


Ted Wright, CEO of Fizz, led a discussion on the benefits of “word of mouth” marketing. 15% of every conversation includes a branded product or service, and conversation is what drives sales in North America today. It is important to find brand advocates, or better yet, have them find you. Advocates like to try new things, share stories with friends, and are intrinsically motivated. They engage in conversations that are relevant and efficient, and are drawn in when brands tell meaningful stories that are worth sharing.

The Winner of The Millennium Mission Prize Goes to…

Sabrina Cherubini!

The Millennium Alliance will donate $1,000 on behalf of Sabrina Cherubini, VP Marketing, Customer Strategy, Ann Taylor & LOFT, to the charity of her choice, Feeding America. This award is part of The Millennium Alliance’s new initiative, The Millennium Mission, in which we donate to charities such as, Feeding America, The Miracle Walk, the U.S. Coronavirus Emergency Response, and others on behalf of the most engaged attendee for each event. We are excited to make a donation in Sabrina Cherubini’s name!

Don’t miss out on the next Marketing & Retail Assembly! Join us on May 25th for our Transformational CMO & Retail Virtual Assembly. Go here to RSVP.

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