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PepsiCo’s Mauro Porcini

PepsiCo's Mauro Porcini

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TRENDSETTERS: PepsiCo's Mauro Porcini says that People Don't Buy Just Products Anymore...

The Internationalist Trendsetters is written by Deborah Malone, founder of The Internationalist.

In fact, Mauro Porcini, Chief Design Officer of PepsiCo, believes that "People don't buy just products anymore.  They search for holistic solutions, meaningful experiences and authentic stories."

Speaking last month as the keynote guest at the inauguration of the Design Factory at St. John's University, in partnership with the Farella Innovation Labs—(yes, that's Steve Farella, Founding Chairman of MDC Media Partners), Mauro Porcini emphasized how people today are different and behave in different ways with products and brands. He said, "People buy experiences that are meaningful to them. They buy solutions that are realistic-- that transcend the product, and they buy stories that must be authentic."

He adds, "78% of millennials would rather spend money on an experience than a product, while 47% of consumers want brands to provide inspiration for things to do."

Mauro Porcini joined PepsiCo in 2012 as the company's first Chief Design Officer. In this newly created position, he infuses design thinking into PepsiCo's culture and is leading a new approach to "innovation by design"that impacts the company's product platforms and brands, including Pepsi, Lay's, Mountain Dew, Gatorade, Tropicana, Doritos, Cheetos, Quaker, Aquafina, Lifewtr, Naked, Kevita, Stacy's, SunChips, among many others, as well as new platforms such as Alternative Hydration (water personalization and consumption beyond the bottle) and Spire (Smart Fountains for drinks customization). His focus extends from physical to virtual expressions of the brands, including product, packaging, events, advertising, licensing, retail, architecture, and digital. Sustainability is one of his main goals today, as well as one of the company's.

He talked to both a student and professional audience about how design had historically been focused largely on graphics, packaging, and products. Today, design is much broader and is becoming a significant competitive advantage in a great variety of industries. His belief is that the evolution of product experiences has become relevant in both brand building and in new innovation. 

At PepsiCo, he's leveraging design to create meaningful and relevant brand experiences whenever customers interact with the company's wide array of products.  His work covers each brand's visual identity to the marketing and merchandising activities that bring a brand to life across different platforms—from music to sports to fashion.

Mauro Porcini is also shaping PepsiCo's future product portfolio.  He sees little difference between design and innovation.  "Design,"he shared, "is more than aesthetics associated with products.  It's a strategic function that focuses on what people want and need and dream about.  Design crafts experiences across the full brand ecosystem that are meaningful and relevant for customers.”

He outlined the importance to products of complementing emotion and rationality, as well as functionality and engagement, from both a user perspective and a business perspective-- in terms of how such balances can lead to purchasing, re-purchasing and recommending.  He asserts that all processes start with people talking to each other and generating actionable insights that can be used in the design process. He says: "Start developing a creation, make a prototype, go back to the audience, validate ideas, kill incongruous ideas, iterate, create a new prototype, and repeat until you find the magic balance between emotions and the rationality that defines the success of the product."

Mauro Porcini and his design team have won more than 800 Design and Innovation awards.  He has been recognized with several personal awards, including Fortune's 40 under 40, Fast Company 50 Most Influential Designers in USA, Master of Design, Most Creative People in Business, GQ 30 Best Dressed Men, amongst many others.  Plus, in 2018 Mauro Porcini was recognized with the Knighthood (Cavaliere) by the President of the Italian Republic. 

Prior to PepsiCo, he served as chief design officer at 3M.

Mauro Porcini, PepsiCo; Katia Passerini, Ph.D. and Dean of the Collins College of Professional Studies at St. John's University; Steve Farella; Luca Iandoli, Ph.D. and Associate Dean for Global Programs and Research at St. John's University-- all celebrating the inauguration of the Design Center in partnership with the Farella Innovation Lab.