How Innovation Helps Reduce Friction Along the Consumer Journey



During a fireside chat at CES, Cadillac CMO Deborah Wahl explained why a culture of innovation has allowed them to keep the legacy brand relevant.

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Cadillac CMO Deborah Wahl is proud of Cadillac’s culture. She explained to EVP of Viacom Ad Solutions, Val Bischak, during a fireside chat at CES that a culture of innovation has allowed them to keep the legacy brand relevant to new consumers through a focus on technology and diversity of thought.

“Be nice, generous and kind..even as you’re trying to blow s**t up,” Wahl said, citing one of her industry mentors. The tongue-in-cheek remark matches CEO Mary Barra’s push to position GM as a technology company. “That’s why we’re here at CES,” Wahl said. “Honing in on all the technology and capabilities for the things we all talk about: personalization, customer knowledge—and make it work for us so that we are getting the right messages at the right time.”

She told Bischak that, unlike other big brands, which tend to attempt big, bold, and transformational marketing moves, Cadillac decided to focus on reducing friction along the consumer journey experience. “It’s the day to day things about what performs and where you go that are the most important,” Wahl said. “Because that’s a journey as well, and it’s one that you focus on every day.”  

The goal to position the vehicle as “infrastructure technology,” and focus on the consumer’s interactions with said technology. “We’re trying to reduce the friction,” Wahl said, adding that making the experience more seamless has provided insights regarding what consumers value, and what’s the next solution to bring forward.

The Cadillac CMO admits the strategy is not easy. “It takes a lot of perseverance to get it done,” Wahl said about perfecting “the basics,” those pieces in the customer journey that, at the end of the day, have a significant impact in the overall experience.

“There’s a lot of talk about how much more complex the role of CMO has become,” said Bischak. “Chief Experience Officer, do you relate to that?” Wahl responded “yes,” as long as they create and promote a culture of innovation and use technology to better the overall experience. “That’s always been the secret role of the CMO; how to navigate things so your talented and amazing team can get all their great ideas through.”

The fireside interview between Valerie Bischak, SVP of Ad Solutions of Viacom, and Deborah Wahl, CMO of Cadillac, was conducted as part of the annual “Brands Bet on Digital” Conference which was held in Las Vegas in conjunction with the Consumer Electronic Showcase (CES).

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