Extensive combat training and experience is needed to develop the skills to succeed in the battleground of consumer markets. While this is the kind of learning that is essential for marketers, it takes many years to acquire. Even at leading FMCG (fast moving consumer goods) manufacturing and retailing firms, only a handful of battle-hardened veterans get to take the strategic decisions that shape the future of their brands and stores.
From a learning and development standpoint, this begs the question, how can we speed up the process of training future marketing leaders? Is it possible to train them the way we train fighter pilots, employing combat simulators that authentically reflect the market realities?
Destiny© was developed in response to these questions. By replicating consumer behaviours, this highly advanced FMCG business simulator offers a holistic learning experience for marketers. Pitched against one another, participants learn to implement effective marketing and business strategies, and develop an understanding of what drives store choice and brand choice. They become proficient in the use of market knowledge and financial data for day-to-day business decisions, acquire a deeper understanding of supplier-retailer relationships, and refine their negotiation skills.
Destiny© is aptly intertwined with the developer’s eGuide “Marketing Analytics: A Practitioner’s Guide to Marketing Analytics and Research Methods” to provide a holistic learning experience, that beautifully combines theory with practice. Participants learn practitioner’s tools and techniques, and get to use them in a competitive setting that resembles the real world.
Destiny© is used extensively in practice-oriented programmes in marketing, for executive education as well as for Executive MBA, MBA, BBA and Business Analytics curriculums. It supports a friendly, web-based user interface that makes it conducive for online training programmes, eliminating the need for participants to travel to brick-and-mortar venues, thus saving individuals and corporations, considerable time and cost.
For practitioners and Executive MBA students, the training is often conducted over an intense 3–5 day marketing workshop where the simulation exercise is interspersed with short lectures and case studies. Otherwise, for courses that span the full university term, the simulation is conducted over 6 to 8 weeks.
As it ventures into the e-learning space, Destiny© affords tremendous potential as an accessible, inexpensive, self-learning tool that can benefit a much wider base of students. A finely-tuned, single-category version of Destiny©, allows individuals to compete against virtual teams, i.e. the computer. Practitioners, consultants, marketing professionals and business students, across the globe, may use it to hone their skills and enhance their knowledge of marketing.
Destiny originated in the early 1990s as a market research tool to analyse, forecast and simulate the buying behaviour of consumer panellists. Then called the Brand Health Monitor, it was used mainly to diagnose brand health and investigate business issues. Since its inception it has been continually refined and enhanced to mirror advances in marketing theory and market research.
In its current form as an experiential learning programme, Destiny runs on a virtual consumer panel of a few thousand households. Where these households shop and what brands they purchase over a period of three years is simulated based on marketing models that predict consumers’ response to the elements of the marketing mix. These market models are based on well-established analytics and research concepts that are widely deployed in marketing. They provide us with an understanding of what drives store choice and brand choice, what triggers brand/store switching, how advertising channels brands/banners into consumer repertoires and how consumers respond to different types of promotions and incentives.
Stemming from its foundation as a tool for diagnosing brand health, Destiny is rich in marketing analytics and research. It supports over a hundred variables ranging from commonly used market measures like share, stock, and measures for advertising and brand image/profile, to buying behaviour measures like brand loyalty, consumption and penetration, and relatively advance analytic techniques including gain-loss and share forecasting tools. The data granularity is weekly, and may be analysed via market response models.
The advanced consumer analytics platform, supported via an interactive, friendly interface, is one of the highlights that sets Destiny apart from other market simulators. The application and theory of the techniques is covered in the abovementioned practitioner’s guide, mainly in Chapter 7, Consumer Analytics and Consumer Panels as well as in Chapter 11, Product Validation and a number of case studies. These techniques are particularly useful in diagnosing business issues through mining consumer transactions.
While it attests to the scientific rigour and versatility of Destiny, the consumer analytics module is intended primarily for participants with knowledge of marketing analytics and research methods. Other participants work mostly with commonly used measures that are ported onto easy-to-use, web-based dashboards.
Since its inception as a teaching aid in 2004, Destiny has been extensively deployed for Executive MBA, MBA, BBA and Business Analytics curriculums, and corporate training programmes. As an interactive, competitive exercise that mirrors the real world, it generates enormous enthusiasm, and imparts marketing knowledge in an intuitive, experiential and memorable learning environment.