This week on NRF Foundation All Access, P&G Chief Communications Officer Damon Jones sits down for “20 Questions.” From what skills are essential to communications roles in retail to how to understand consumer behavior and why P&G uses its platform to address social issues, he takes us behind the headlines.
Here are just a few of the questions students at universities nationwide asked – along with answers from Jones:
Of the nearly 100 P&G brands you’re responsible for, which one is your favorite and why?
One of the most enjoyable experiences I had was working on the Gillette business (which has a $6 billion business around the world). Gillette has been a pioneer in sports marketing. We were one of the first sponsors of Major League Baseball, figuring out how you do stadium sponsorships and advertising during radio. We’ve tried to continue that innovative approach in getting into things like esports and gaming, and integrate with new ways that people are connecting with each other and making ourselves a part of that discussion.
What are your most important considerations when going through a company or a product rebranding?
When something’s not working in any business, our first instinct is to change everything. In retail, that’s the last thing you want to do. Many of our brands have hundreds of thousands of loyal consumers. The balance in growing a business like this is that you want to maintain the consumers who you know, who trust you, who are loyal and dependable.
It’s a balancing act of knowing and understanding your core values, deciding what is going to be the same for your brand over time, and what are the things that are going to be different. When you do get consumer feedback, understand why they liked a particular feature and what was the utility of it, and make sure to communicate the benefits of those products in meaningful and specific ways.
Why is it important for P&G to use its platform to speak out on social issues?
One of the things people may not know: P&G is one of the world’s largest advertisers. We’re putting out a lot of images and messages into the world every day. Those messages impact how people see themselves and how they see each other. That’s a responsibility that we take seriously.
We know that consumers are more loyal to brands when they do stand for an important social or environmental cause. It’s something we’re doing because we believe it will have an impact on the world around us, and an impact on society. A more equal society is better for the world, and it’s better for P&G.
What is your greatest piece of advice for students who aspire to be in your shoes one day?
Find an environment where you can learn. I love surrounding myself with people who are smarter than I am. People who have different sets of expertise and a different world view. When you can find people who bring that different point of view, you find that you’re challenging your thinking all the time, and you’re not making assumptions.
During my career with P&G, I’ve been fortunate to work in a number of countries. Working in a different environment where no one looks like you, people may not speak the same language, they grew up with a different set of cultural values – it forces you to articulate what’s important to you, but it also gives you insight into different ways that life can be lived. I think I’m a much better leader and a much better person for having some of that.
What are some careers offered within the retail industry that people may not be aware of?
We have people who study human psychology and behavioral science and apply that to consumer choices, to marketing and to communications – psychologists and psychiatrists. We enjoy observing consumer behavior, and how and why consumers make different decisions.
If you’ve missed any NRF Foundation All Access sessions this fall, you can find all the videos on our on-demand page – including “20 Questions” sessions with The Home Depot Senior Director of In-Store Experience Jalal Hamad and PetSmart Senior Vice President of Merchandising Kristin Shane.