Driving growth through Information

As Senior Vice President of Marketing and Customer Experience at what Ad Age describes as one of America's hottest brands, Gary Cohen keeps Redbox ahead of the innovation curve by staying in touch with the DVD vending-machine company’s massive customer base.

One of marketing’s most important responsibilities is staying in tune with the customer’s needs. At Redbox, it’s been the basis for our success. We turn our customers into advocates by enabling them with lots of knowledge and then providing them a voice.

On a weekly basis, we talk to more than 20 million people, and our goal is to make it a two-way conversation. We let people know what’s new at Redbox, and encourage them to tell us what we can do to improve.

We try to provide open lines of communication across multiple touch points. We have Redbox.com, a massive email database, Twitter, Facebook, SMS, an iPhone app, and almost 30,000 Redbox kiosks. Customers who want to engage have the ability to do so at any spot that's most convenient for them.

The rigor of real-world marketing

At Redbox, we’re chock-full of data. We can slice and dice data all kinds of ways. We have so many people who rent from us - more than two million each day - that it’s easy to do very quick primary research.

In the real world, marketing is based on data analysis and making sure that you’re working on the core issues pertaining to a given business challenge. Complications arise from excessive information and points that may not be relevant to the issue. Once you figure out the key relevant elements, however, it’s generally pretty easy to solve the problem. My time at Booth really helped me to hone the skill of breaking things down to their essence and then focusing on those core elements.

Turning back to Booth

Booth does a great job of preparing its students for real-world marketing. I’m actually working with a number of current Booth instructors, who I think are really quite good. I’ve also done work on a number of projects here at Redbox with Oleg Urminsky, who teaches Marketing Research.

In fact, we’ve had Booth marketing students help us with about four different projects over the last 12 months. We ask them to help us answer some specific business questions while giving them the opportunity to work on real issues with a real company, and it’s turned out to be a great, symbiotic relationship.

The students that work with us do a great job handling data and representing it in a coherent way. Their findings aren’t overwhelmed with data for data’s sake. They take our data and turn it into information, and that’s a real challenge.