Mark Greatrex, who has been chief marketing officer, at Cox Communications since March 2011, is a big believer in research.
What the corporate senior vice president has learned so far in studying what Cox video customers want is pretty much a marketer’s dream: they want more, more and more.
• More digital video recorder storage and recording capabilities.
• More access to programs online (even in the home).
• More shows and movies in the on-demand libraries.
Now, Cox just needs to keep creating new and improved products to deliver on that demand — something Greatrex said he and other Cox executives, including product-management overseer Len Barlik and chief technology officer Kevin Hart, are focused on accomplishing.
“We are working very hard to speed up the pace at which we are able to launch products,” Greatrex said. “We are keenly aware that we need to pick up the pace.”
A former brand marketing executive at The Coca-Cola Co. and America Online, Greatrex pointed to the relatively streamlined introduction of Cox TV Connect, the Apple iPad app that enables viewing of streamed live TV channels in the home, as an example of Cox’s ability to go from idea to commercial rollout in a matter of about nine months — shorter than typical cable-TV product cycles.
Insights as to which new video services would excite Cox customers were gleaned from extensive research (by consulting firm Oliver Wyman) on what’s called the video value proposition. Using real-world examples of the best video services out there, including internationally, customers were shown examples of what they have, as well as what may be possible in the future.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, customers liked what they saw from Cox’s top-of-the-line “Advanced TV Plus” package, including whole-home DVR with more storage and the Trio guide that enables personalized favorites lists and enhanced program search.
“We see our highest-end video experience being the most highly valued by customers,” Greatrex said. “It was quite an affirmation for us, in terms of the competitiveness of our top-end experience.”
“On the marketing and branding front, we are challenging ourselves to bring the wonders of the plus-package experience to life,” he said, including working with Cox’s ad and marketing agencies to figure out how best to dramatize the experience and “make it visceral.”
Finding those agencies — Cox’s marketing “thought partners” — was one of Greatrex’s first tasks. A review and consolidation process resulted in Cox choosing Publicis Groupe’s MediaVest as agency of record, overseeing what Advertising Age termed $75 million to $100 million in yearly spending on measured media. Cox also tapped Draftfcb for direct- marketing activity and Marketing Evolution for marketing research tasks, Greatrex said.
Customers can experience Cox’s products in person and at its retail stores, which were overhauled in anticipation of Cox entering the wireless business. Cox shifted directions and decided not to sell wireless service directly (instead partnering with Verizon Wireless).
Most of the company’s 135 retail stores that had been essentially payment dropoff centers have been converted to Cox Solutions Stores, with improved displays of Cox products and “learning lounges” where informal or group classes are held. The rest will be upgraded in the next 12 months.
“We believe in retail, we’re continuing to invest in retail and we’re trying to learn as much as we can about best practices in merchandising,” Greatrex said.