How CMOs can make marketing more human-centric: Charisse Hughes, Kellogg

Using data and technology creates targeted and relevant messaging that drives powerful consumer experiences and competitive differentiation.


  • Kellogg’s loyalty program provides a robust asset to scale first-party data at a moment when it is more valuable than ever.
  • Kellogg’s CMO uses consumers at the “edges of the bell curve” to drive design thinking and the innovation agenda.
  • Diversity and inclusion are more critical than ever to help appreciate the future of consumers and solve for new ways to engage audiences.

To drive the growth agenda, companies must manage the dichotomy of focusing on human-centered values like a diversity and empathy to connect with their consumers and yet also use more data and technology than ever to bring precision and scale to the equation.

In our conversation as part of our Forbes video series, Charisse Hughes, Senior Vice President and Global CMO of the Kellogg Company talks about “the art and science of marketing,” both of which are critical. “The data, the technology, the science helps us understand our consumer that much better. The art helps us push our creativity further.” 

Here are three key takeaways from my conversation with Hughes on how leading CMOs are driving growth in their companies:

1. First-party data continues to be a critical imperative as part of the broader data strategy

Most companies are well aware that the value of third-party data has been declining and will continue to suffer as the browser and technology landscape keeps evolving. Loyalty programs can be a great source of first-party data to fuel growth despite the decline of third-party cookies. Kellogg has a loyalty program with over 33 million households and it enables the company’s consumer brands to use that data to drive both precision marketing strategies and consumer insights: “We looked at demographics and geographics, and we broke it down and analyzed 10 billion data points to really understand how those geographies and how those ZIP codes were shopping our brands,” Hughes said. She highlights that first-party data is proprietary and creates competitive advantages.

2. Consumer-centricity is vital to lead for the next generation of shoppers

Hughes talked about how to surface new ideas to connect with future consumers: “I love this concept of design thinking and considering consumers at the edges. So, looking at a bell curve, the consumer at the edges is who we need to learn from.” Learning from consumers at the edges also means it is even more important than ever to be committed to equity, diversity and inclusion.  It is a call to action for the full C-Suite.

Concepts like purpose and values must be brought forward in ways to drive differentiated points of connection with consumers. Hughes shares, “What I think about is how the convergence of values and culture and how those come together to create relevance within today’s environment or tomorrow’s environment,” she said. “Because it’s so important for us to maintain empathy and to make sure that we’re asserting our values in an authentic way.

3. It’s more important than ever to make messages relevant to the humans that receive them

Hughes talked about how brand messages can and should appeal to a broad audience, but she also points out there is an opportunity to refine and focus the message at precise moments in the journey – to understand not only who they are but where they are at the time they are shopping, 

New sources of data enable us to better hear consumers’ voices. If we leverage end-to-end data and thinking, we can understand the full range of sources, from social conversation, to trends, to specific language that will resonate to improve messaging and personalization. It can push the creativity further as she points out, “We’re really speaking to the heart and the messages that are most resonant, but also that are leading-edge,” she said.


In a post-COVID-19 world, Charisse Hughes really points out how Kellogg recognizes that consumer-centricity hinges on the combination of data and technology with human values and empathy to drive growth and competitive edge.

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