Q&A with Kolja Eikelmann, CMO & Head of Marketing at PPG Industries

MEDIA 7 | June 20, 2019

Kolja Eikelmann, CMO & Head of Marketing at PPG Industries is a forward thinking and result-driven Marketing expert with 20 years of experience in the FMCG marketing industry. 

In this Q&A, Kolja shares his unique marketing experiences and gives us interesting insights about PPG Industries, a global supplier of paints, coatings, optical products, and specialty materials which is driving innovation, sustainability and color in the industry.

MEDIA 7: What inspired you to get into Marketing?
KOLJA EIKELMANN:
I wouldn’t be able to say when I first realised marketing was the path for me, but I think it’s been evident my whole life that I’m interested in the diversity that marketing allows. Since childhood, I have always been so fascinated with the details of a product, no matter what it is. I have an endless sense of curiosity and I think that was the major driving factor for me to enter the world of marketing.

I realised marketing might be for me when I discovered the unique opportunity it offers to be involved in all spectrums of the business; not just advertising, but also in creating solutions and analysing outcomes. The overarching goal is always to make a real difference and help people in their daily lives, and marketing allows you to both be a part of the solution as well as a witness to the outcomes.

My job with PPG is very colourful – just like my company! Within my one job title I get to explore innovation, creativity and analysis. This variety has always been appealing to me.

M7: You have an exemplary marketing experience of more than 20 years in the FMCG industry. How have the marketing dynamics changed over these years and what tactics do you feel modern marketers should adopt, to survive in this competitive world?
KE: 
As you would expect of any industry in the 21st century, marketing is constantly changing and increasing in complexity in this digital age. The increasing presence of digital media and the growing demand for ease-of-access online services, has resulted in the field growing broader than ever before. The possibilities now are numerous, but they are fragmented; you must be truly dedicated to the field to build the knowledge base of marketing tools required to thrive in such a climate. Ultimately, PPG wants to produce work that has the greatest impact on businesses, this was arguably easier in the past when you had a traditional, simple media mix, as opposed to now when success depends on mastering traditional media and online outlets, social media and digital advertising tools.

For example, it can be easy to spend a lot of money on Google ads that are expected to be high value, but instead, organizations might see greater return on sales if the money had been allocated to a faster and more agile response to SEO.

In marketing, it can be easy to get caught up in the creativity of the work – as that is most often our strength – but not fully immersing yourself in the analytical side of things is a mistake that is often reflected in outcomes. I would recommend that every marketer should always make sure to know their KPIs inside and out and try to get as familiar with Excel spreadsheets and analysis as they are with the creative work.

In this constantly changing modern landscape, marketing has become even more important than ever before. Specifically, in the paints and coatings industry, marketing was a late bloomer as it has been driven by shelf sales for so long. However, as an industry we are refocusing on innovation and purpose; and pushing the boundaries on what is expected from paints and coatings and what they can do. PPG aims to improve and protect the world through our products – but none of this is possible without proper marketing to support the business.


"A focus on our customers, our innovation, our people and our entrepreneurial way of working – are all elements that inspired the One PPG vision, and what most accurately represents the key to our successful way of working."

M7: Your work experience spans across highly complex matrix organizations to entrepreneurial and start-up businesses. What do you believe is your driving force behind your proven track records and achievements?
KE: 
I am very proud to say I have left behind a strong track record of positive differences within the companies in which I am working. Although I have worked in many different, seemingly unrelated industries, the knowledge and tools that I learnt at each step along the way continue to prove invaluable for each new challenge I face. From paints, to dairy, to cosmetics – your collective marketing knowledge spans across whichever business you are a part of. Once you’ve built up this knowledge base, the true challenge is not having the tools but knowing which tools to use and when.

I have always been most drawn to companies that challenge me to make a difference. This is how I’ve shaped my career and how I made my decisions on where to work.

M7: How well do you believe that a service-oriented and data-driven leadership approach along with business strategy and operational execution can lead to company growth with an upsurge in revenue/sales?
KE: 
I strongly believe in a service-oriented and data-driven leadership approach, as well as incorporating social and ethical capabilities. Data-driven leadership is the key to the future – in many industries – but especially in marketing. The industry today is all about knowing your KPIs and business cases, which are data rich. Working in marketing is about being able to positively impact business outcomes, and that ultimately boils down to the ability to add value for your customers and consumers. Focussing on PPG work as a service-oriented industry highlights the need for data availability – both in that of the business and that of our customers – to be able to best consult and serve. Knowing your data is the key currency for success in the 21st century.

Data analysis can provide us with information such as click through rates and viewership. We are able to access tools now that, if used right, can prove invaluable to achieving successful outcomes. Being able to use this information to your advantage will allow you to instantly see whether your data retrieval is successful. Every business case and KPI that you set out to tackle can then be achieved using the data to measure sales growth.

M7: PPG Industries has been included in the list of American Fortune 500 companies. What do you think has made it possible to build a fortune for PPG industries?
KE: 
PPG has a strong culture of building the business across SBUs through investment, innovation and acquisition. We are one of the leading and largest paints and coatings companies in the world. This status is maintained by PPG’s culture of investing in R&D and constantly challenging the boundaries and expectations of the coatings world.

The opportunity to build our position as a market leader in many countries around the world is only possible through our global network and international approach. For example, our Alison Park facility in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania is a major hub of innovation for PPG – but work that is done there is often inspired by an idea from Europe, that itself was driven by a customer need from Asia. To stay on the frontlines we can’t sit still and be complacent. Our recent acquisition of Hemmelrath and a new plant in Tianjin, China is evidence of our strategy to expand our foothold, our abilities to deliver for customers and our capacity for innovation to maintain our position as a market leader.

PPG has many moving parts which all function in different areas of the world across different business units, but our central goal is to add customer value. A focus on our customers, our innovation, our people and our entrepreneurial way of working – are all elements that inspired the One PPG vision, and what most accurately represents the key to our successful way of working.


"Data-driven leadership is the key to the future – in many industries – but especially in marketing."


M7: How is PPG Industries’ tagline ‘WE PROTECT AND BEAUTIFY THE WORLD’ serving its purpose of enhancing the world through its paints and coating solutions?
KE: 
PPG is in every part of daily life – even if you don’t realise it. You touch and feel PPG in your living environment practically 24/7: from your car to an airplane, to your refrigerator, to your laptop or even your soda can. This tagline reflects how PPG’s paints and coatings cover every part of life. PPG products provide the expected functionality of adding a colour or coating to an object, but even more than that, PPG products enhance the longevity of an item and increase its appeal. Whether it is an electronics coating that makes a laptop feel smooth to the touch, or a coating that protects the body of an airplane from overheating in the sun. PPG’s mission is not to provide what is expected, but to offer innovative solutions to questions no one expected an answer for.

Environmental impact is one of the greatest concerns of the 21st century, for both our customers and us as manufacturers. As a business founded on mass production, it is our responsibility – and therefore our challenge – to be as positive a force as possible in the fight against climate change. This is why so many of our modern products are developed to align to both PPG’s mission of protecting the world and the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals: boat coatings that reduce friction and therefore reduce fuel consumption, aircraft windows that don’t need frames to reduce plane weight to help minimise carbon emissions, electric vehicle battery coatings that enable cars to travel for significantly longer periods of time per charge, increasing the viability of electric vehicles on roads. We are innovating with purpose – for the public, for our customers, for consumers and for our own PPG people.
The world cannot function without paints and coatings in our everyday life, and that’s why PPG’s tagline is so powerful. If we are going to continue to be a worldwide presence, we want to be sure we are making the world a more beautiful place in the most long-term, stable way possible.

M7: You have taken transformational business initiatives to foster incremental business changes and drive cultural change throughout the organization especially in dynamic business sectors. What are some of the advantages of taking such timely measures?
KE: 
As part of the global shift towards greater digitization, businesses have the opportunity to drive cultural change. Digital transformation is a key component, especially as peoples' buying habits are evolving and changing how they purchase products. This is acutely felt in Europe, with its variety of different countries, cultures and languages. From a marketing standpoint, the industry is offering incremental business changes in this new culture of on-demand. In the age of Amazon and digital transformation, people want easier and faster solutions from the paints and coatings industry. Customers want to get the job done as quickly and as easily as possible with support from the supplier. As a result, PPG is innovating to be more agile and fast, by developing architectural paints that take less time to dry or offering customers a more on-demand paint matching experience.


"A successful campaign is one tailored to the needs, style and audience of the customer."

M7: You have an amazing experience of working with top leading companies like Nestle, L’Oreal and currently PPG Industries, how influential was your role in transforming marketing tactics for these organizations?
KE: 
My roles in these organizations were really diverse. For L’Oréal, I was more into sales and worked within category management. This later proved very influential for my future marketing career as it introduced me to the integration between marketing and sales in helping to serve customers in the best way possible. Integrated communication between marketing and sales is an essential tool in connecting both ends with the business purpose while still staying customer focused. You need to drive your campaigns forward and also sell your products in a much more complex way that is completely focused on the customer’s view. In order to do this, you need to know what is best for the customer when you place your products within a category role. This requires a lot of analytical skills to convince a customer what is best for them. You need to oversee the whole thing and act almost as both an internal and external consultant for your company. This whole picture view of the marketing process really influenced my journey and helped me strengthen my skillset for my future roles, such as when I was head of digital for Nestle.

When it comes to marketing, you can’t just pick the most creative, 360 media campaign available and offer it to the client. A successful campaign is one tailored to the needs, style and audience of the customer. To be best at what we do, it is essential to build an in-depth understanding of your customer’s view and what is best for them. This experience came with me into my work for PPG in using this knowledge to establish myself in a more leading role. At PPG I am also the communicator in the company and need to understand everyone’s view and connect with all the different departments. I am not only the marketer in my department but I’m also responsible for looking at the whole value chain within this digital leading role. PPG has experienced double-digit growth in the past two years in both B2B and B2C and this success is down to how closely we collaborate here.

M7: Kolja, what is your super power?
KE:
I would say my super power is a combination of my visual and analytical skills, articulated through my courageous and enthusiastic mindset. Being able to both develop a specialized skill set and confidently acknowledge my areas of expertise and strength makes for a very beneficial cocktail to drive progress. Having empathy and other social skills are important to exert a positive influence within my team at PPG. However, these qualities should also be backed by facts – knowledge, experience and history -- which is a combination I have not seen in many people. Being self-confident and believing in my strengths is a powerful tool in business, and something that has greatly helped me along the way.

M7: Knowing what you know now, what advice would you give your younger self?
KE:
I’m really driven by being up to date and well informed in as many areas as possible, and I would advise my younger self to do the exact same. I’ve always been a very curious person, but I would tell my younger self to be even more so and to take in as much information as possible. In this fast-moving world, that is just getting faster as we become more digital, there is always something new to learn or discover. If you remain stuck in one point of view or one way of thinking, you are already behind the curve. Stay flexible, stay interested and always remain in a constant state of learning.

ABOUT PPG INDUSTRIES

PPG: WE PROTECT AND BEAUTIFY THE WORLD™
At PPG (NYSE:PPG)
, we work every day to develop and deliver the paints, coatings and materials that our customers have trusted for more than 135 years. Through dedication and creativity, we solve our customers’ biggest challenges, collaborating closely to find the right path forward. With headquarters in Pittsburgh, we operate and innovate in more than 70 countries and reported net sales of $15.4 billion in 2018. We serve customers in construction, consumer products, industrial and transportation markets and aftermarkets. To learn more, visit www.ppg.com.

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Expedia Group and Bilt Rewards Launch Exclusive Travel Portal

Expedia Group | July 01, 2022

On June 30, Expedia Group, the leading travel technology platform, announced the launch of the new Bilt Travel Portal in collaboration with Bilt Rewards. It will be available exclusively to Bilt Rewards members. Members of Bilt Rewards can use their Bilt points to cover all or a portion of the cost of their next vacation and can book every aspect of their trip directly through the Bilt Rewards app, from flights to hotels and even theme park or Broadway show tickets. Bilt members can access more than 700,000 properties, 500 airlines, 120 car rental companies, and thousands of activities worldwide, thanks to Expedia Group's White Label Template technology. 1 White Label Template includes all of the functionality of the Expedia.com site, as well as tools and customer support to assist Bilt members with questions or bookings. Expedia Group's expert knowledge of the travel industry is combined with a nearly $2 billion annual investment in new technology innovation to meet the changing needs and demands of both partners and travelers. Travel is among the most important experiences to our members, who don’t want to be limited when it comes to using their hard-earned loyalty points, said Bilt Rewards Founder and CEO Ankur Jain. Partnering with Expedia Group enables us to give members a one-stop-shop with access to endless travel options, along with the easy integration to create a seamless booking experience. “We’re excited to power the Bilt Travel Portal, and to help the Bilt Rewards members build the vacation of their dreams simply by paying rent,Our innovative solutions provide Bilt Rewards with technology they need to build a wonderful experience and offer an unparalleled amount of travel options to their members.” -Christian Gerron, senior vice president, Media & Brand Partnerships, Expedia Group. Bilt Rewards members can access the Bilt Travel Portal powered by Expedia Group by logging into the Bilt Rewards app or visiting travel.biltrewards.com and entering their Bilt Rewards login credentials to view available travel supply and booking options. When booking in real-time, members will be able to see the value of their Bilt points, with 10,000 Bilt points equaling $125 in travel credits. Members will also earn 2x points for bookings made through the Bilt Travel Portal with their Bilt Mastercard, and 1x point for bookings made with another form of payment. Bilt Rewards, which will be available in June 2021, is the first-ever loyalty program and co-brand credit card for renters, allowing 109 million renters in the United States to earn points on their largest monthly expense with no fees. Renters can access the free Bilt Rewards loyalty program by living within the Bilt Rewards Alliance, a network of over 2 million rental units in the United States, or by using the Bilt Mastercard, the first credit card that can be used to pay rent with no transaction fees at any rental unit in the United States. In addition, Bilt members have access to one of the most valuable rewards programs available, with the ability to redeem points for travel, boutique fitness classes, limited-edition art, and home décor, as well as rent credits and even a down payment on a future home. Members now have access to thousands of new options for redeeming their points thanks to the addition of the Bilt Travel Portal powered by Expedia Group, further increasing the value of Bilt's

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TRAVEL TECHNOLOGY

Travel Super App Innovator, TRZMO Announces Launch of 'Moments' Feature

TRZMO | June 28, 2022

TRZMO has launched version 2.0 of its travel super-app at Phocuswright Europe 2022, the leading global travel conference. A highlight of the new version of the TRZMO app is the new 'Moments' feature which allows users to capture images with GPS data and share memories in their travel diary within the app. These Moments can be shared in the future on the TRZMO app and other social platforms.The app is free on Apple App store and Google Play store for a limited time to celebrate the exciting new 'Moments' feature. Moments helps to capture images of destinations and experiences to include in the TRZMO trip timeline. For each trip, users can add 'Moments' to look back on or share amazing discoveries made on a trip – from a hidden gem of a restaurant to a little known beach or a local shop that doesn't have a website, but deserves to be shared. The 'Moments' feature is also valuable for business travelers to record business expenses. This new feature makes the TRZMO app more engaging, and makes travel more interactive amongst people along for the trip, or looking for travel inspiration, recommendations or ideas of what to do, eat or experience. 'Moments' on TRZMO allow a traveler to record treasured experiences with a personal note or reflection right in the app which places it thoughtfully in the context of a trip, rather than just having photos lost in the shuffle of a smartphone album. "Since the launch of our strategic advisory board and funding of $1.2 million in Q1 2022, TRZMO has been committed to evolving our free flagship app into a true travel super-app. It replaces multiple apps with one dashboard to manage flight updates, gate changes, ground transport, loyalty programs and a myriad of travel logistics from duty-free shopping to dining, weather and time-zones coupled with AI-driven, real-time recommendations and special offers. The new Moments feature is a game-changer, making the app more personalized, inspiring and engaging," -Myank Jain, Founder and CEO of TRZMO.AI Advisory Board members include Josh Wiess, an angel investor focusing on early stage tech start-ups and Conor O'Mahoney, a proven travel industry entrepreneur and innovator, and a member of Hub Angel Investment Group. TRZMO is a consumer travel super app with robust functionality. At the Phocuswright Europe 2022 conference, the company is focused on growth, adoption and mutually-beneficial partnerships. About TRZMO TRZMO is the ultimate travel super-app, available free for a limited time on the Apple App Store and Google Play Store. It presents flight itineraries, ground transportation recommendations and logistics, local weather, time, currency, and duty-free shopping recommendations on your route in one dashboard. TRZMO automatically pulls flight itineraries from your calendar, facilitating trip management without data entry like first-generation apps, and notifying you of real-time flight changes. It displays the best duty-free prices and offers along your route to be sure you get what you want at the best place, time and price with one search. TRZMO also manages loyalty cards so you can earn points, maximize value, and spend time enjoying travel instead of navigating a myriad of single-function apps. TRZMO also captures moments from travels, to save in your journey's timeline in the app or share on other platforms. Follow TRZMO on LinkedIn, Instagram and Facebook.

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DESTINATION AND TOURISM,INDUSTRY OUTLOOK

Travel Advisors See Strong Demand for Luxury Trips This Summer

Internova Travel Group | July 05, 2022

Dream destinations, multigenerational vacations and a desire for unique experiences are some of the trends driving luxury travel for the summer in 2022, according to travel advisors from the Global Travel Collection (GTC). The United Kingdom tops the list of international destinations booked by GTC travel advisors, a spot it's held for the last five years. Other places in the top 15 include Italy, France, Israel, Spain, Switzerland, Mexico, the United Arab Emirates, Greece and Germany, followed by South Africa, Ireland, Australia, the Dominican Republic and Portugal. Luxury travel advisors with GTC brands report that their clients are excited to travel again, with some booking multiple trips. And they're willing to spend more to get the vacation experience they want. But that high demand is driving up prices, and hotels are stretched thin due to staffing shortages, limiting availability. "Europe is in high demand this summer, with destinations like Greece, Spain, Portugal and Italy the most booked, My luxury travel clients do a combination of experiences, like cooking classes, hiking/biking excursions and immersive activities connecting them to the place, as well as making sure they have dining reservations at the top spots." -Tiffany Bowne, with All Star Travel Group, a brand within Global Travel Collection. Carolyn Consalvo, with Global Travel Collection's Andrew Harper, remarked that beach vacations and Alaska cruises are very popular. "I would say most people are looking for destinations where they can be outdoors a majority of the time," she said. "Bucket lists are becoming to-do lists,Many of my clients want to travel to their dream locations," with destinations as varied as the Maldives, southern Italy's Amalfi coast, Australia and Hawaii. -Shayna Mizrahi, with In The Know Experiences, also part of Global Travel Collection Remote work has also opened up new possibilities, she added. "The demographics of my most active luxury travelers today are young professionals, who now can work remotely from anywhere and are choosing to combine this with unique luxury trips. Luxury travelers are eager to make up for the time they couldn't spend seeing the world with friends and family over the past two years. I'm doing multiple multigenerational trips — grandparents not wanting to miss any more time and taking their family on an unforgettable trip of two to three weeks, said Diana Castillo, with Protravel International of Global Travel Collection. Laura Triebe, also with Andrew Harper, is also handling more requests for multigenerational vacations and bucket-list destinations like Hawaii and Africa. I think the client that calls now is more serious about traveling and is willing to adjust to an ever-changing world. With rising prices and limited availability in some vacation spots, luxury advisors are putting their skills and experience to the test. Clients are willing to pay to get what they want," and that includes upgrading their accommodations, said Michelle Summerville, with In The Know Experiences. More people want to travel in the best way possible, better than they have in the past," she said. The greatest challenge in selling luxury travel right now is the severely limited space and availability for flights and hotel rooms in the most desirable destinations, said Leslie Tillem, with Tzell Travel Group of Global Travel Collection. We are seeing extraordinary demand in luxury travel across the spectrum, leading to a lack of availability at any price. Bridget Kapinus, with Andrew Harper, concurs. Demand is high for last-minute travel. She's also contending with factors like a scarcity of hotel rooms and higher costs for flights. Travelers who had never used an advisor before started to seek them out to help navigate COVID-19 entry and testing requirements. Now, they're sold on the value of a travel professional. "Your time is precious, and you want the assistance of an expert to help you plan your vacation, said Angie Licea, President of the Global Travel Collection. Our luxury travel advisors have years of experience putting together trips for their clients, as well as firsthand knowledge of the world's most popular destinations. They stay on top of the trends in luxury travel and deliver concierge-level service. Plus, travelers have the comfort of knowing that there's a human being they can call whenever they have a question or concern. My travels throughout these past 18 months have been our best marketing,said Castillo, of Protravel International. "We have shown our clientele that travel can be pleasant and enjoyable and that we can help set up all the requirements they may need in order to make their vacation seamless. Mizrahi, with In The Know Experiences, has also been sharing details about her travels, something her clients appreciate immensely. Her firsthand experience "is something that no Google search or website can provide. About Global Travel Collection Global Travel Collection (GTC), a division of Internova Travel Group, is the world's largest collection of international luxury travel agencies, including the well-established networks of Protravel International, Tzell Travel Group, and Colletts Travel, as well as Andrew Harper, In the Know Experiences, All Star Travel Group and R. Crusoe & Son. GTC advisors and agencies are industry leaders in providing premium travel services to leisure travelers, corporate executives and the entertainment industry. The combined global reach and leverage translates into value, recognition, and preferential treatment for its world travelers. About Internova Travel Group Internova Travel Group is one of the largest travel services companies in the world with a collection of leading brands delivering high-touch, personal travel expertise to leisure and corporate clients. Internova manages leisure, business and franchise firms through a portfolio of distinctive divisions. Internova represents more than 70,000 travel advisors in over 6,000 company-owned and affiliated locations predominantly in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom, with a presence in more than 80 countries.

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