How to lead the way in Retail Marketing

In the past Retail Marketing has been seen by many as the ‘underdog’. However, not only are retail marketing budgets now sizeable enough to be attractive to the most ambitious marketers and agencies, the rapidly changing reality of customer’s shopping habits makes this one of the most challenging and exciting sectors to be working in today. In this blog, we’ll explore how successful retailers are embracing the hallmarks of growth drivers to turn the changing retail landscape to their advantage.

Disruptive technology and multiple shopping channels have transformed the face of the retail environment. Multi-channel retailing is already out of date as omni-channel becomes the new goal; over a quarter of shoppers order groceries online with 55% saying they are willing to do so in the future[1] and 49% of young adults using their phone to research prices whilst out shopping[2]. An ever more demanding shopper expects a personalised experience: 89% of consumers have switched companies due to a bad consumer experience. Meanwhile, with access to huge amounts of shopper data from POS, websites and loyalty schemes, big data is both a blessing and a curse for retailers who are needing to upskill and upgrade to translate their data into actionable customer insights. A red thread through all of this is the importance of customer-centricity.

Growth driving retailers are embracing the capabilities, behaviours and ways of working that are helping them to turn these challenges into opportunities. A recent study by Brand Learning identified the 7C hallmarks of growth ready organisations with customer-centricity being the key hallmark. The Growth Drivers study shows that customer-centricity must be enabled and complimented by the other 7C capabilities. 

Which organisations are doing this well?

Burberry, for example, have achieved phenomenal growth over the last 10 years with revenue up 252%[3].  They are entirely focussed on their target customer, the millennial, and have demonstrated courage and conscious speed in the way they have embraced creating a unique and personalised omni-channel experience. In 2014, 71% of their sales were generated from company-owned retail outlets, allowing them to dictate the consumer shopping experience[4].  But what’s really exciting is how they’ve embraced digital to create an omni-channel experience with chip-enabled products and video content telling the stories behind their iconic products. During London Fashion Week this year, Burberry customers were able to order straight from the runway rather than waiting the standard 6 months and they launched "live social media campaigns" to accompany its new collections[5].

Another customer-centric retailer, Ikea, demonstrates the use of curiosity to drive growth. Ingvar Kamprad is famous for making a little go a long way: he challenged IKEA employees to make a robust, well-designed table for just €5. For profit. It’s clear that they abandoned traditional thinking when they sawed a door in half to meet the brief!

Amazon meanwhile embrace collaboration, customer-centricity, courage and conscious speed!  They have the two-pizza rule (as do Apple); no team is bigger than 2 pizzas can feed! Teams are cross-functional, with clearly communicated group goals and the means for all to see the data to understand how they are performing in real-time.  So when events happen, like the FAA allowing electronics to be on during the take-off and landing of planes, they can and do act on it in minutes and can be live within a couple of hours. While most companies struggle with their corporate metabolisms to call a meeting in two hours, Amazon’s culture allows them to completely reconfigure parts of their business to react in near real time.

“Speed matters in business. Many decisions and actions are reversible and do not need extensive study. We value calculated risk taking.” Jeff Bezos

What does this mean for Retailers?

Now more than ever, customer-centricity is critical to drive growth and this will be enabled by the other 7C capabilities, behaviours and ways of working.  Embracing a combination of commitment, courage, curiosity, collaboration and conscious speed, as well as cultivating talent, needs to be embedded in the culture and agendas of retailers if they are to deliver exceptional customer experiences and stay ahead of the pack.

At Brand Learning, we work with clients on creating a joined-up purpose, strategy, culture, structure and ways of working centred on the customer experience. Our work with Marks & Spencer, shortlisted for the Marketing Society Excellence awards, has included building a common way of marketing in core capabilities such as brand positioning and integrated communications, and working with Leadership teams on their ways of working and strategic plans.  If you would like to find out more about how Brand Learning can help you lift your organisation’s capabilities, please do get in touch.

BRAND LEARNING: Inspiring people. Lifting capabilities. Growing organisations.


[1] https://www.warc.com/PDFFilesTmp/836e147b-641b-4b5e-ad70-ffd61e1aed29.PDF

[2] https://www.warc.com/LatestNews/News/EmailNews.news?ID=34355&Origin=WARCNewsEmail&CID=N34355&PUB=Warc_News&utm_source=WarcNews&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=WarcNews20150224

[3] https://financials.morningstar.com/ratios/r.html?t=BRBY

[4] https://www.warc.com/Content/ContentViewer.aspx?MasterContentRef=6b76eb42-e1c6-42a0-b811-e4e9e9821d30&q=burberry&CID=A93642&PUB=EUROMONITOR

[5] https://www.marketingmagazine.co.uk/article/1383886/six-brands-doing-digital-london-fashion-week-aw16