Bonds, Target and Kathmandu talk brand, blockchain and business of attention

In this exclusive roundtable, Kathmandu chief customer officer Eva Barrett, Target Australia GM of marketing Jamima White and Bonds head of marketing Kelly McBride reveal how the old model of marketing has been replaced by new benchmarks across brand, innovation, sustainability and always-on messaging .

How has your marketing changed over 2021/2022?

Eva: We’ve increased our spending on brand. There is a realization that engaging and connecting with our customers is not just driving clicks, but we have to engage at the top of the funnel. At Kathmandu, our purpose is to improve the wellbeing of the world through the outdoors, and we want to remind everyone just how great it is when you’re out there in nature. We’ve leant into our B-Corp status, we’re proud to be the biggest B-Corp in Australia and New Zealand. This means that we’re held to the highest standards of social and environmental performance, public transparency and legal accountability. It’s meant we’re attracting incredible people who want to work for us as they share our values, sustainability is at the heart of everything we do. We learned that our customers are very loyal and love Kathmandu. They have stayed with us and we’re now starting to see momentum grow again. We are the number one outdoor brand in Australasia, we lead the market for top of mind awareness, consideration, preference and equity, this has not changed regardless of COVID, our brand has only got stronger.

Jamima: We have been undertaking a strategic brand reset over the last two years and recently launched our new brand platform, ‘That’s Target’, which has been very exciting. The brand relaunch has given us the chance to refresh the way we go to market and certainly the pandemic has accelerated the increase of online and omni-channel shopping experiences with our customers. This has meant that we have increased our digital, influencer and content marketing to reach even more customers across Australia as well as airing our TV commercials in both metropolitan and regional locations. Our customers have been so keen to embrace online shopping, and this has been a strong period for customer insights. Expectations have risen in relation to fulfillment timelines and communications for online purchases and omni-channel growth is continuing to be a vital part of any retail business. Continuing to innovate and improve our customer experience is a key part of the Target digital strategy with our Target App being a key element of our improved customer experience.

Kelly: As a brand that is over 100 years old, continual evolution of who we are is critical to our success and to ensure we’re still in the drawers of Aussies in another 100 years. Over the last few years, we’ve made a concerted effort to be seen as MORE than just a comfy undies brand – although comfy undies are pretty great too. There are a few key changes we made. One, we developed a clear purpose and use this to guide all aspects of our brand – from new product development to interactions we have with consumers and everything in between. Two, our marketing calendar is driven by the needs and behaviors of our consumer, not by the preferred rhythm within our business. The old school model of marketing where brands talk to a specific category or product for a month and then don’t mention it again for another 12 months is gone. We need to be there for consumers whenever and wherever they need us, and that means a more always-on marketing approach that is built on their terms, not ours. And three, we always consider what’s in it for the customer. With so many options for different products available at the tap of a finger, competing for a consumer’s share of wallet is harder than ever before. The emotional connection we create at every interaction we have with our consumers is as important as the product we’re selling.

What were some key trends that developed in marketing last year?

Kelly: Speed ​​trumps perfection. With consumer behavior changing more than ever, the brands that are winning are those that aren’t afraid to launch something new before it’s perfect. Even better are the ones that continue to improve the product or experience with the help of their community. Bridging the gap between digital and physical was well underway prior to COVID-19, but has undoubtedly accelerated in the last 24 months. I don’t think many brands have found the “secret sauce” to this yet, but there is lots of exciting experimentation and innovation happening in this space. The move from an individual to community mindset is also a big trend. There’s been somewhat of a societal reset the last couple of years and we’re seeing this play out in marketing with brands handing over both their money and platforms to get behind the issues that their consumers care about.

Jamima: The rise of influencer marketing and content-led activity, both inspirational at the brand level and eCommerce focused, in the online/app customer funnel centered around lifestyles, how-to-buy guides and effortless add-to-cart experiences continue to be a very strong trend which is driving marketing activity. One of the great stories of the last six months is the return of the out-of-home (OOH) outdoor billboards now that Australia is living with COVID. This is such a great media platform to build reach for brands and it has been terrific to see the cities and the advertising billboards come back to life. Creatively, there have been so many brands doing vignette style brand campaigns that involve multiple spots telling a bigger story about a brand. We have used this style in our own brand relaunch at Target. I love this style of storytelling because it allows us to feature more hero products than a big standalone 45 second brand commercial would have done.

Eva: Everyone realized the importance of having a great website, a great omnichannel experience and click and collect. I’m so proud of my team, we partnered with Uber to deliver puffer jackets in one hour; if you couldn’t come to us, we were going to make sure you could stay warm and cozy in the outdoors and we delivered to you fast. We focused on our CX and we were proud to be awarded the Top Mobile experience at the Power Retail Awards this year.

What are some trends developing this year?

Eva: The importance of first party data and just how important a single view of your customer is. We’ve invested in our platforms and teams in order to focus on customer lifetime value. With over 2.1 million loyalty members we’re in an incredible position to build our community and offer them money-can’t-buy-experiences. Maybe we’ll do that physically or maybe we’ll do that in the Metaverse, it’s an exciting time for innovation right now. The growth of martech (marketing technology) is something else to watch; it’s now a USD$121.5 billion global industry. Ten years ago, when I used to visit Cannes, it was dominated by advertising agencies, the last few years have been dominated by martech companies.

Kelly: None of these originated this year, but three trends or areas that have come into much greater focus in the last six months are: Being where your consumer is rather than expecting them to come to you whether it be physical or virtual, consumer co-creation and hyper-personalization of all parts of the brand experience, not just marketing.

Jamima: It seems everyone is doing a new brand campaign. All marketers know the power of brand, but the pandemic and the subsequent lockdowns in Australia and the difficulty to film advertising last year meant that many brands held off their plans to launch new campaigns until this year. So that’s been exciting for marketers to see who is launching what. Another strong trend in Australia is the focus on ethical sourcing and sustainable materials and practices and these values ​​being introduced into marketing campaigns. This has been a trend over the last few years internationally and Australian brands have now come to the forefront to talk about sustainability, which is something that we know is increasingly important for our customers.

What’s a successful recent campaign for you?

Jamima: Our brand campaign focused on the quality and durability of our products that we launched in February has been very well-received in our customer research and driven a strong uplift in sales of the featured hero product authority lines. Whilst building sustained increases in brand preference takes many months to show trends and momentum, we are pleased with the results of our campaign after the first six weeks and are confident that the long-term objectives we have will be delivered by our new platform, ‘ That’s Target’.

Eva: We relaunched our brand not even 12 months ago and we’re already starting to see results. We have shifted our consideration and preference metrics and when consumers think of the outdoors, we are clearly the number one brand. It’s been a tough couple of years for retail and we’re looking forward to this winter season and our customers coming back to us for their puffer jackets!

What excites you about the future of marketing?

Eva: So much. There is so much innovation happening. Ten years ago would you have believed that Meta would become a huge advertising behemoth? In Q1 alone, USD$26 billion in advertising revenue. The growth of TikTok, the demise of other channels, it’s difficult to hold the social crystal ball up now and predict what will be next. AI and VR based marketing will increase, I expect digital fashion to become even more mainstream once the quality increases. Blockchain-based 3D virtual worlds, once the technology improves Fashion Week in the Metaverse will only become more popular. At Kathmandu we’re keen to experiment, innovate and stay on top of the latest trends in marketing. We’re in the business of attention, consumers are bombarded with thousands of images and advertising daily. How can we continue to cut through, drive fame and keep people talking about our brand?

Jamima: The ongoing digitization of retail is really exciting, especially with the data-driven media and audience opportunities that now enable brands to be highly targeted to drive conversion activity. The growth in subscription programs highlights the critical place that data is taking in driving marketing and sales outcomes. I expect that the customer data ecosystem will continue to be a huge driver of marketing decision making in the future, especially for in-app advertising and content.

Kelly: I’m one of those weird people that loves change and gets bored doing the same thing twice. The varied interests of the next generation excites me, and although it may make the job of marketers harder in some ways, I love that it will force brands to constantly experiment and evolve. I also think marketing calendars and planning will become a lot more fluid and reactive, with less locking and loading of plans so far in advance to enable brands to be more relevant to the here and now. I believe the new frontier of marketing lies in maintaining a strong brand persona and engaged community, whilst simultaneously personalizing all aspects of the consumer experience. Consumer co-creation will undoubtedly be part of this, and I think we’ll see more brands start to reward community engagement and loyalty – perhaps by giving consumers special privileges or exclusive access.

This exclusive roundtable was conducted by our sister publication Ragtrader.

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