Highlights from our Retail Disruptors Brunch

Monday, 23rd July 2018

By Mel Hill

Friday 13th is unlucky for some, but for the delegates at our Retail Disruptors Brunch, it was a great morning as we were hosted by Artisan and given some great insights and tips by retail experts.

The event, hosted by our Retail and Ecommerce Committee member, Sian English saw us hear from two panels. Sian opened the event with a fascinating stat, informing our audience that 25% of retail disruptors are offering a seamless shopping experience across all channels.

With this in mind, the underlying theme of the day was how you can offer the best omnichannel experiences for your customers.

The three key takeaways from the brunch were:

  1. Understand your audience, no matter how big or small it is
  2. Think about your journey and touchpoints – if you understand this, it’s likely you’ll understand your business opportunities
  3. Give your customers experiences, not just products

Our first panel consisted of Alex Ayin, The Social Chain Group; Adam Hosker, Hello Soda and Jack Barmby, Gnatta.

Companies that aren’t investing in tech will die

Adam Hosker, Hello Soda’s Consumer Insights Director has 15 years’ experience in technology, and is now bringing this knowledge to the retail world: “Any company that thinks they can just stay as they are today will die. If you are not investing in technology, you will die, it’s as simple as that. The power of adapting and growing with tech is incredible.

“You only have to look at Toys R Us, who didn’t invest in their own tech, they just outsourced to Amazon. This has been one of their huge failings and has most definitely led them to the position they’re in today.”

Alex Ayin has led the commercial and operational growth of one of Europe’s fastest growing social media publishing houses and digital marketing agencies, Social Chain. Adding to Adam’s point, Alex gave insight into an interesting technology the group is currently creating.

“Influencers are a huge part of our business,” says Alex. “Every click and every bit of engagement when working with an influencer is valuable to us, and we want to measure that. We are currently creating a platform for influencers and this measures not just follower growth, but engagement growth too. It’s all well and good if someone has 20,000 followers, but if no one is engaging with their content, is it a true following, which we can tap into?

“This new tech lets us see if people have bought followers, which is very common in the social media world. This is crucial for ROI as it’s all about click-throughs. Artificial intelligence is hugely valuable to us and we’re excited that this will be ready in a couple of months.”

What’s the impact if a company is thinking short-term?

This question was asked to our panel by one of our delegates and sparked some great knowledge sharing from our experts.

Jack Barmby, the founder and CEO of Gnatta; the platform for managing customer conversations at scale says: “If you want to retain your customers, you can’t be thinking short-term. As much as some people don’t like them, Apple started giving free Macbooks and iPads to schools and people thought they were mad. What we have now are generations of kids who are now older, all Apple users and have and will purchase their products time and time again.”

The debate finished with this from Adam Hosker: “If you think short-term, you will always and forever be doing short-term things. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy and you’ll be constantly chasing your tail.”

Small budgets don’t necessarily mean small rewards

Our second panel consisted of Gina Sharvill, Haagen-Dazs and Michael Boyle, Maniere De Voir. This panel, again hosted by Sian English, focused on the retailer side, discussing how they are staying on top in a world full of disruptors.

Michael Boyle, who has previously worked at worldwide cosmetic company, L’Oréal, and is now Head of Digital Marketing at Maniere De Voir, highlighted the importance of automation in your marketing strategy: “Once everything is automated, you can sit back and reap the rewards and focus on different areas of your business marketing,” says Michael.

Going from a large brand with a large budget, Michael has had to cut back on what he was used to creating at L’Oréal, but this hasn’t stopped conversions: “We use Facebook lookalike audiences by copying what our active customers want, and we’re really getting a lot from that.

“Paid social is where we spend most of our marketing budget. We’re never going to get to number one on Google due to JD, Boohoo etc. so this is how we can thrive.”

When asked whether he feels having a smaller budget has affected performance, Michael said: “The people disrupting the beauty industry are those who are really authentic and really real, but it’s not polished, branded or super-glossy, it’s just been done on a mobile. In these days of social media, you really don’t need a large budget, you just need great content.”

“Don’t disrupt for disrupting’s sake”

Gini Sharvill is currently Senior Global Brand Manager at Haagen-Dazs. On the subject of disruptors, Gini spoke of Halo Top, a new ice-cream invented five years ago, which is now the top-selling ice-cream in the US. “The fact that a tub of Halo ice-cream only contains 280 calories has meant, for the first time ever, consumers are thinking ice-cream can be a health food.

“No one has thought of ice-cream in this way before, but we don’t stand for this. We’re all about indulgence, we’re expensive because all of our ingredients are high-quality and we are holding true to this.

“When someone comes in and disrupts, find the way your brand can talk to consumers while staying true to you, don’t just adopt what they’ve done. Don’t disrupt for disrupting’s sake, stick to your business’ values.”

78% of Haagen-Dazs’ audience are millennials. As marketers know, the millennial audience pays into an experience, not just a product. France is Haagen-Dazs’ biggest market in Europe, and here they have cafes and are working with Deliveroo on bringing digital and experiential marketing together.

“In France, when you download a series or a film in HD (which also stands for Haagen-Dazs), you can download your film in ‘Extra HD’, to choose what ice-cream you want to watch your show or film with and you can get this delivered to your home within 30 mins.

“We also trialled this throughout the World Cup which was hugely popular, particularly because of France’s success in the competition. When you take these risks with a worldwide event, often you will get a great return.”

The sold-out event gave our delegates great insight, and the feedback we have had has been hugely positive. Our next Retail & Ecommerce sector event will be in September, keep your eyes peeled on our website for more information.

Huge thanks to Artisan for hosting the event, and to JMW, who sponsor our Retail & Ecommerce sector group.