There’s no doubt it has been a transformational time for marketing and retail. The lines are blurring between physical and digital, consumer behavior continues to evolve, and there is more room for innovation than ever before. The industry’s top C-Suite executives and thought leaders covered these topics and more at our Transformational CMO & Retail Virtual Assembly last week. In case you were unable to join us, you can read about some of the highlights in the recap below.
A Fireside Chat with Craig Brommers and David Sable
Day one of the Assembly began with a fireside chat between Craig Brommers, Chief Marketing Officer, American Eagle Outfitters, and Millennium Advisory Board Member David Sable, Co-Founder/Partner, DoAble. The two executives are both friends and colleagues, as Sable is a board member for American Eagle, so the conversation was as pleasant and candid as two old friends catching up. David Sable opened up the discussion with the bold statement, “retail is dead”. At least according to the pundits, he clarified. However, Craig Brommers went on to describe a record-breaking quarter for American Eagle Outfitters. Here’s what we learned about the growth American Eagle continues to experience:
- Gen Z is driving the rapid return to “normal”
- The brand transcends physical vs. digital
- It’s not “digital-first” but rather “customer-first”
- Store associates act as “local influencers” for the in-store experience
- TikTok is a game-changer for marketers – viral moments are driving trends
- American Eagle has embraced positivity throughout the pandemic
- Strong brand values and purpose is key, especially for Gen Z
The Latest from our Marketing and Retail C-Suite
Every company has a cause they can rally for. According to Francesco Lagutaine from M&T Bank, communities and businesses work hand in hand, so when one thrives, the other does, too. How do you determine your cause? You have to define the set of values – beyond the products and services you sell – that will inform behaviors, innovation, and future products and services. These values begin in the workplace. In order to effectively rally for a cause, you must create an environment where employees want to stay. Francesco also notes that you can’t communicate empathy; it’s a part of every employee’s role. It should drive how you answer the phone, how you address customers’ hardships, and eventually work its way into your brand identity. Making sure your purpose is authentically “you” is key.
Does your content need to be perfect? Not according to Santhi Ramesh, Chief Marketing Officer International at The Hershey Chocolate Company. User-Generated Content is on the rise, and this raw, relatable, imperfect content creates more buzz and engagement than traditional content. The Hershey Chocolate Company has successfully taken advantage of UGC. Consumers are creating recipes for social media, and while the photography is not perfect, they create engagement and generate more likes for less money. Santhi mentioned that during the pandemic, consumers became more forgiving and understanding of “imperfect” content. Hershey’s has also engaged consumers on social media by turning negative comments into positivity. For example, they launched the #AllTreesAreBeautiful campaign after social media users mocked the shape of Reese’s Holiday Peanut Butter Cups. This innovative response changed the tone of the conversation and painted the brand in a more positive light, all while creating buzz.
Our Expert Keynote Panel on 2021’s New Customer
Michelle Bottomley, CEO at Modern Growth Exchange and Millennium Advisory Board Member led our day 2 panel discussion on the 2021 consumer and the psychological shifts that are here to stay. Panelists included Tariq Hassan from Petco, Justin Lyon from LuLaRoe, and Khalid Saleem from TBC Corporation. They shared insights on increasing consumer expectations, the importance of creating meaningful customer relationships, understanding the customer without third-party data, and more.
Some key takeaways:
- Many of the psychological shifts resulting from the pandemic are here to stay
- Consumer expectations are increasing – delivering products immediately is now the norm
- Health and safety will continue to be a priority moving forward
- Brands are bringing back personal and meaningful customer relationships
- Your customer can be your best advocate if they trust the service you provide
- Understanding your value equation is essential for growth
- The return to brick and mortar is more prominent than expected
- The cookie-less future creates more urgency for leveraging first-party data and forming a stronger relationship with your customer
- Modern marketing is increasingly the orchestration of art and science
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Until Next Time…
Don’t miss out on the next Transformational CMO & Retail Virtual Assembly. Go here to request an invite for the August 25-26 Assembly!