Digital Future-Proofing Advice from 3M, Walmart, TD, Koia

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At the Brand Innovators Always Ready Digital Future-Proofing livecast, high-level executives shared valuable advice about what they have learned from digital acceleration and how they are evolving their technologies to future proof their business.

Digital readiness and being prepared for the evolutions of the future helped some brands navigate the pandemic better than others. Even as consumers emerge from their homes and reconnect with brands in physical spaces, the digital acceleration will likely only continue to grow. 

At the Brand Innovators Always Ready Digital Future-Proofing livecast, high-level executives shared valuable advice about what they have learned from digital acceleration and how they are evolving their technologies to future proof their business.


Walmart was one of the leading retailers that helped consumers with essential needs from food to toys throughout the pandemic. Offering flexibility to consumers through ecommerce and curbside pickup required flexibility among the marketing department. 

“I'm always upfront with the resources that I need because when you work in an area that is a priority for the company, you just need to be upfront,” said Cynthia Kleinbaum, VP of Marketing Walmart+, Online Pickup & Delivery and Mobile App at Walmart. “Because the worst that can happen is that you can’t deliver on plans because you didn't plan on your resources. You need to be assertive: ‘these are the teams that I need; this is the data that I need in order to achieve this’, so I spend a lot of time at the beginning thinking about what I need. But the tricky thing is that I don’t exactly know what I need at that point so I try to keep it general enough so it gives me the flexibility so I can change as things are evolving. An example of that is hiring a team. I’ve learned to hire people with a growth mindset and not necessarily people with deep hard skills that may look like exactly what I need at that moment because things may change.” 


What should have Amy Leung’s first day in the office in her new role as, SVP, Head of Digital Marketing Strategy at TD, everything went virtual. Instead of meeting her new colleagues in person, she was stuck in her New York City apartment with her three children and her husband working in the same room. And yet, in her role, she has been able to work to 

“Our vision is to be a seamless digital customer experience to reinforce our unexpectedly human brand,” said Leung. “If you think about digital adoption, to quote a McKinsey article, “digital adoption has vaulted five years forward in the span of eight weeks.” The pandemic threw people into the digital space. If you think about TD and banks in general, we rely heavily on our retail stores, but during the pandemic these were all closed so we needed to double down on our digital work experience. What I recognized was that this is the time that we really have to understand our customers. There’s so much going on in the digital landscape when it comes to privacy, and people wanting to own their own data. At the same time we also need to be relevant. How do we marry both relevance and privacy at the same time to have this customer-led connectivity, journey and experience while being unexpectedly human.” 


3M had a whirlwind year, producing much-needed masks for medical centers around the globe. The company has created a customer-centric model with buy-in from marketing and sales in order to deliver first-class service. Digital is an enabler for 3M to transform their business, and to help them continue to be competitive in the marketplace by offering seamless and personalized experiences to drive growth and loyalty. 

“The past year at 3M, we’ve really embraced a major business transformation,” said Milena Oliveira, Senior Vice President & Chief Marketing Officer (CMO), Transportation & Electronics Business Group, 3M. “We really have reorganized how we go to market and how our functions and groups are aligned internally. We started the process of a relaunch in April right at the onset of the pandemic, which was challenging as we also needed our marketing plans to reflect the new reality. For us, it was important to accelerate our brand reputation and focus on putting our customer first, and help them get through the pandemic. We learned that digital is an enabler for us to transform our business, and to help us continue to be competitive in the marketplace. It’s about how we work on that seamless and personalized experience to drive growth and loyalty, and to better serve our customers.” 


The pivot to digital has created both unique challenges and growth opportunities for marketing teams. Digital workplaces have taught brand marketers new ways to interact with colleagues and has translated into 

“Working from home has really prepared us for this new kind of consumer,” said Chris Pruneda, Chief Marketing Officer, Koia. “Smartphones are at the center of everyone’s universe - it’s just how we all communicate. If you think about consumers and not only how they communicate but also how they consume media - it’s all video now. With better technology and faster devices, video is the preferred way to consume information. For us, the same way we are sharing information internally as co-workers, is now what we need to focus on when connecting with consumers in a meaningful and engaging way.” 

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