Interview with Scott Galloway, Cannes Lions 2018

This year making his fourth appearance at Cannes Lions, Scott Galloway opines on the reason for the demise of brand loyalty, the future of marketing, and the possibility of EU pushback on big tech.

As Professor of Marketing at the New York University School of Business, Scott Galloway instructs second-year MBA students at on brand strategy and digital marketing. However, Galloway’s brief biography on the New York University website doesn’t hint at his extensive social media reach, which includes a weekly newsletter “No Mercy / No Malice” as well as a weekly YouTube series, “Winners and Losers.” In both of these, as well as in his other public and online appearances, Galloway uses his funny, irreverent style to reflect on issues both professional and personal.

Also an author and entrepreneur, Galloway in 2017 added philanthropist to that list with a donation of over four million dollars to the University of California Berkeley’s Haas School of Business to fund scholarships and fellowships for business students from immigrant families.

In his book, The Four: The Hidden DNA of Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google (Portfolio, 2017) Galloway analyzed the rise and dominance of these companies, and offered readers the opportunity to understand them—and possibly to apply their techniques to achieve success in career and business.

What is the future of marketing?

“The future of marketing is voice. We’re in the middle of the mother of all death matches as Apple, Amazon, and Google battle it out to become the number one voice interface in the home. However, one company, Amazon, already controls 70 percent market share in voice and is putting us on a fast track to a frictionless, brandless means of ordering all of the stuff you need in your household.”

Does brand loyalty still matter to consumers?

“The decline of brand began with the advent of Google. Every day, fewer and fewer people put a prefix of a brand’s name in the Google search bar, and the same is going to happen with voice commands. Voice-based ordering eliminates the need for packaging, design, and end-caps—all of the things brands have poured billions of dollars and decades of time into perfecting. When you visit and search for batteries you’ll see that there are hundreds of options listed. But what happens when you ask Amazon’s Alexa to put batteries into your cart? She puts their own brand of batteries (AmazonBasics) into your cart and you’re none the wiser. The death of brand is here and it has a voice – specifically Alexa.”

Project out to 2025: What will Amazon look like and what will it to do business worldwide?

“I think it’s only a matter of time until Amazon introduces some sort of Prime Squared service that will combine artificial intelligence, your purchase history, and their fulfillment network to start sending you stuff before you know you need it. It will start with Amazon sending you two boxes—one full of things it thinks you want and the other empty for you to return what you don’t need. Over time, it will learn your preferences, and you’ll be able to tell Alexa you’re having a BBQ for six people on Saturday night and everything you need will arrive seamlessly within twelve to twenty-four hours. Zero-click ordering will become the preferred mode of e-commerce that you manage through Alexa, and it will convince households that they really don’t need any other retailer besides Amazon. Households will quintuple or sextuple their purchase volume on the platform and Amazon’s global dominance will continue.”

Will Facebook, Google, Amazon, Apple, and Microsoft face global pushback from governments and consumers as they dominate almost every activity of daily life?

“I believe the perfect storm is brewing against big tech. For the past decade, the loudest arguments waged regarding the Four (Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google) were about which CEO was more Jesus-like or should run for president. These platforms brought down autocrats, we’re going to cure death and put a man on Mars, because they are just so awesome. However, the worm has turned. We are starting to realize that these companies are too big and too powerful. For example, Amazon can wreak havoc in an industry before it’s actually in that industry. Kroger stocks fell nearly 15 percent at the announcement of the Whole Foods acquisition, Blue Apron’s stock fell 11 percent on the heels of Amazon filing trademarks for home meal kits, and Dick’s Sporting Goods fell 8 percent when Nike announced a partnership with Amazon. Similarly, Google controls 92 percent of all search queries and is now a bigger business than the entire advertising market of any nation except the US. I think it’s only a matter of time until Europe bans one of these companies. Compared to the US, Europe registers a fraction of the upside but a lot of the downside of big tech companies in terms of anticompetitive practices, privacy, and job destruction, which is going to stiffen the backbone of EU regulators.”

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