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Culture Wars

By: Marie Alice Dibon
Posted: January 5, 2010, from the January 2010 issue of GCI Magazine.

page 10 of 12

Einstein said, “In difficulty lies opportunity,” and the difficulty of the differences between marketing and R&D is what makes learning from each side or finding common ground all the more precious.

The Myth of Creativity Versus Rigor

Myths also divide R&D and marketing. Scientists are thought to be rigorous and stringent, organized and somewhat tough on rules.

Marketing is supposed to be the cradle of creativity. In France, there is the term, “the creatives,” used when talking about the people who come up with concepts in ad agencies. It is never used for researchers. Yet, the best researchers are creative minds. There is no good development without scientific method and a lot of creativity. Despite appearances, researchers are fun. But it takes some understanding of science to be able to seize the beauty of a scientific concept, or what it took to get there. For those in marketing, who tend to think that labs are really too rigorous, pause for a moment. Understand the scientific constraints, and then learn about the science and its marvels. You will surely better see, then, the beauty of what technical teams achieve.

In the same fashion, as creative as marketing’s work may be, without method and a plan, there is no successful product design, launch and commercialization. Though R&D may get frustrated by the appearance of constant buzzing, agitation, the fun of quick-off meetings and press conferences, it, too, needs to understand that behind all the hype lies a lot of very hard, sometimes tedious, work.

The Knowledge Gap

Often in the beauty industry, there is no cross talk in terms of skills between science and marketing—there is, simply, a knowledge gap. Scientists hardly ever hold MBAs or have any marketing experience, and marketers almost never have a technical degree or have spent time in a technical department. If you have any hybrid profiles in your company, cherish them. Technical people with communications skills can be key players in a high-level team.