#REACH2014 – Keynote: Global Insights Driving Local Engagement: Lorraine Chow Hansen ’87


“Do we have any Doritos consumers out there?” Lorraine Hansen asked to those assembled at commencement speech of the 2014 Reach Conference. Hansen ‘87 started off her presentation by proudly advertising herself as a Jersey girl. When the question of undergraduate matriculation arose, Hansen, a first generation Asian-American and third generation chemical engineer, found herself trying to sell the idea of Princeton to immigrant parents who were set on her going to MIT.  After graduating BSE at Princeton, Hansen went on to Harvard Business School. From there, her life would take many interesting turns, before finally leading her into the world of marketing and advertising.

Lorraine’s revelation of Pepsi Co’s marketing strategy brought smiles to students as she displayed the categorizations of each variety of products. Products were grouped into “Good For You”, “Better For You” and “Fun For You”. You can guess what products were labelled fun. Many students were also surprised when they realized the utter monopoly that Pepsi has on the snack food market. Did you know that Starbucks, Naked and Aunt Jemima are all Pepsi products? Furthermore, in describing Pepsi’s marketing strategy, Lorraine indicates that “we live in a VUCA world.” What is a VUCA world you ask? VUCA stands for volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous. This means that the world of advertising and marketing is much like the Princeton during midterms. Challenges include media disruptions and advertising to a consumer that is privy to more and more information. These realities have made marketers better researchers.

Quick facts: Demographics show that Dorito eaters are usually young adults. As a result, they thrive on advertisements that tout the message “Carpe Diem.” Lays is the number one snack brand in the world and like Doritos, appeals to the fun, light-hearted pleasure seeker. In contrast, Gatorade campaigns on a basis of “Hard Work” and determination. In China, in the wake of dehumanization due to rapid developments advertisers appeal to the sentimental family oriented vision. The moral of the story? Know your target demographic. Hansen closed her talk with one more piece of advice. “Do what you love, in the end you’ll always be better at it.”

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