The warm weather is upon us. It’s a time of year often associated with the blossoming of love and relationships, which has me thinking about how marketing has leaped forward in its ability to build emotional connections with customers.
Marketers are in the midst of an “experience economy” and must position their brands in through customer engagement if they hope to continue winning the consumer acquisition and retention war.
That’s the view of vice-president of interactive and e-business marketing at Lancome, Alessio Rossi, who caught up with CMO in the lead-up to this year’s Ecommerce Conference and Expo in Melbourne to discuss digital marketing trends, modern retail strategy and customer centricity. Rossi will be keynoting the event.
Rossi has more than 10 years’ experience marketing a range of luxury global brands including Gucci and Ducati. At Lancome, he is responsible for its non ‘bricks-and-mortar’ presence and digital customer strategy including CRM and social media.
Rossi stressed the importance for consumer brands to take a multi-channel approach to marketing and retail today, pointing out that customers do not think in terms of online or social engagement.
“They expect a single consistent experience gathering information, services and products at any time, any place as they need,” he claimed. “With this in mind, our efforts today go synergistically in the direction of building an 'experience economy'.
At Lancome, the focus is on both customer retention as well as acquisition. CRM is at the heart of this strategy, Rossi said. “Retention is only possible if our products, services and campaigns leave a positive, long lasting memory to our customers,” he commented.
“Acquisition is only possible if we are more appealing and inspiring than the competition. We do our best to look through these lenses for all that we do.”
For Rossi, mapping the consumer decision journey is a cornerstone of building a robust digital marketing strategy and a major source of relevant insights for Lancome.
“This should be done beyond the path consumers take to buy your products only as it unveils lifestyle details that can be invaluable,” he continued. “Nowadays, there is an overwhelming array of digital media options, and it is key to pick only those that are relevant for your customers, consistent with your brand values and of course that are effective in terms of ROI.”
Lancome is experimenting with new media and measurement as part of its ongoing efforts to stay in tune with modern consumer needs. With current smartphones adoption rates and the fact that devices are the most intimate items consumers own, mobile marketing is also a key focus this year, Rossi said.
The company’s current focus for mobile innovation is on the connection between devices and the in-store experience.
“This is a unique opportunity to further personalise the experience with this always connected, highly opinionated, very demanding and sophisticated consumer,” he said.
Like many marketers, Rossi has also witnessed the consumption of content increasing exponentially in recent years and sees its growing importance in the customer engagement piece for his brand. The challenge is both the volume and diverse range of content required to cut through the noise. In today’s highly competitive market place, marketers have even less time to grab an individual’s attention, he pointed out.
“An email banner or a social post may require significant investment and are consumed in seconds,” Rossi said. “This requires a thorough and much anticipated content production planning process as well as dedicated P&L lines with clear responsibilities.
“We always start from customer engagement and our ability to appeal and to remain relevant. If that doesn't work, we just don't proceed.”
Creativity versus science
Rossi also weighed in on the debate around creativity versus data in a modern marketing today, claiming marketing luxury brands must combine, rather than choose between art and science.
“We start from a creative vision that empowers women to achieve their best beauty potential, femininity and French elegance,” he said. “We then use data to measure how this is received and how it turns into business effectively.
“We don't see how the two sides can be separate.”
As a digital marketer, Rossi claimed his role continues to evolve as digital increasingly pervades consumers’ lives.
“Despite this transformation, we remain loyal to our core values of French sophistication, ultimate service and unsurpassed experience with customers desires always at the centre of our thoughts,” he said.