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Interview with Ken Hughes

In this fascinating interview, leading consumer behaviouralist Ken Hughes reveals what he loves about public speaking, and gives his three best tips for achieving a successful shopper marketing strategy. Learn more below.

What do you gain personally from being a public speaker?

Speaking across all industries means that you get to see the different challenges facing each, but also the same questions. How to optimise the customer experience? What effect millennials will have on demand? How to achieve true consumer centricity. As a speaker there is nothing better than hearing the buzz from delegates during the network break after your speech. Seeing delegates discussing your content, and energized to ask and hear more is always rewarding. I believe in energizing a room and so I am always satisfied when the client and delegates give that energy back. Ultimately speaking is about good story telling and so having others tell your stories afterwards on Twitter and Linked In is also a great feedback loop. A good story is a story worth re-telling.


Do you have a favourite experience from your speaking career?

There are many. Voted best speaker at the Global eCommerce Summit this year was nice. But then so are the small intimate CEO events too. I guess the TED talk stands out as a time I really felt that connection with an audience and was my first standing ovation. You always remember the first time your speech made someone get to their feet. That stays with you.


What types of results do clients experience after your programmes & keynotes?

I describe myself as a thought-leader but a client recently challenged me on it and argued I was more of a ‘thought disruptor’. I like that idea. It is always easier to stick with what you know. Doing things the same way. Sometimes it takes someone outside your company, or industry, to make you see things differently. I like to challenge delegates and clients to see things differently, positively disrupt the status quo and get more creative. If a delegate walks out of the room Energized to do things differently and given some tools to start, then that’s a good start for me.


What is the biggest challenge facing businesses today in terms of sales?

I guess that depends on the market and product really. One of my most booked speeches in 2015 was “The Digital Native Advance: The New Shopper DNA”. This looks at how the demands of the digital native and millennial consumer changes the game for every industry. The social and cultural shifts to do with hyper-connectivity, sharing, instant gratification and self-centricity & personalisation pose huge challenges for consumerism in general. Adapting to these changes is both a challenge and an opportunity.


Can you provide three tips for achieving a successful shopper marketing strategy?

If it was that easy I’d have sold the silver bullet and be living in the Bahamas!! But I guess you can’t get away from these three:

1) Base everything you do on a deep insight of your consumer and shopper. The more you understand how and why people buy and consume, the more relevant your offering.

2) Be obsessive with your customer experience. Today you are only as good as the last experience someone has had with your product or service, or the reviews they have read of someone else’s experience. Create experiential equity.

3) Have a heart. Brands that build brand love will succeed long term. Brands that have an authentic story and connect. Brands that deliver on personalisation. The days of mass marketing are over. You have to be able to connect 1-to-1 with your customer today, and do it genuinely. Otherwise you are just white noise.


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