CMO50 #15: David Robinson, David Jones

  • Name David Robinson
  • Title Group executive, marketing, financial services and customer innovation
  • Company David Jones
  • Commenced role October 2013, previously grouup executive for omni-channel for 2 years
  • Reporting Line CEO
  • Member of the Executive Team Yes
  • Marketing Function 81 staff, 5 direct reports
  • Related

    David Jones’ CMO, David Robinson, has set a significant goal for his marketing team: To become the leading fashion publisher in Australia.

    “We will be digitally led while delivering integrated stories across all our content channels,” he says. “Our customers will be part of this narrative with more events, more often.”

    Robinson is well equipped to unite digital and physical storytelling and experiences, having previously led the department store’s omni-channel transformation. He’s also well versed in every part of the business, building up significant and collaborative relationships with other executive colleagues over his 18-year career within the retailer.

    Empowered and long-term thinking

    “Our purpose is to build the strongest, most profitable relationships with the highest spending customers in Australia,” Robinson says of his strategic aims as CMO over the next 1-2 years.

    “We will continue to be customer-led and recognise and reward customers with the launch of a new loyalty program. We will also ensure our digital strategy delivers a seamless customer experience both in-store and online.”

    Supporting this ambition is Robinson’s approach to innovation, which he sees as a continuous improvement exercise.

    “Innovation is changing what you do, or how you do it, to deliver a better outcome for your staff, customers or vendors,” he says.

    Top CMO attributes

    Given such a wide-sweeping business view, it’s not surprising Robinson believes the top attributes every modern marketer now needs to possess are similar to those every executive business leader requires.

    “It’s about critical thinking and knowing where you’re going; communicating and telling people why and how they’re going to get there; and collaborating and working with colleagues to get there,” he says.

    From the CMO50 submission

    Business contribution and innovation

    Prior to his appointment as group executive of marketing, financial services and customer innovation in October 2013, Robinson developed and led the implementation of the omni-channel strategy for David Jones. With a strategic directive to make the department store Australia’s leading omni-channel retailer, and reporting directly to the CEO, he led a working group of team members from all sectors of the business including operations, merchandise, IT and marketing.

    The strategy focused on four key pillars: People, processes, IT systems and marketing.

    In his CMO50 submission, Robinson said the approach was designed to leverage the retailer’s physical footprint and digital competence in order to offer a channel-agnostic shopping experience that aligned with emerging consumer expectations.

    Since then, under his direction, the team has continued refining the online offering, with a focus on a seamless mobile user experience. At time of CMO50 judging, 82 per cent of brands were available online, and a range of payment and delivery options available to customers.

    In less than three years, the online business has grown exponentially, becoming David Jones’ most profitable ‘store’ with a turnover tracking to about $100 million per annum.

    Modern marketing and customer engagement thinking and effectiveness

    Robinson’s ambitious and innovative customer insight and engagement strategy will come to life when David Jones launches its regional loyalty program next year, one of the most important projects for parent company, Woolworths Holdings. Robinson is the project lead for this initiative, which is in the final stages and manages a cross-functional team spanning David Jones and Country Road, Trenery, Witchery and Mimco.

    The objective is to deliver a regional, tiered and structured loyalty program that delivers real value to customers, encouraging them to spend more money, more frequently, across the group and within all categories and brands, Robinson said in his submission. The regional loyalty program is being developed off the back of months of research that included a benchmarking study of structured and unstructured loyalty programs globally, and a review of the attributes underpinning brand engagement.

    Through customer and business co-creation, the team has developed a range of value proposition options and optimised them through choice modelling to identify the solution that resonates best with customers, Robinson said.

    “This is a major transformation that spans across core operations and ways of working,” he said. “It will affect the customer proposition, brand positioning and marketing channels for David Jones and result in changes to the operating model, marketing model, promotional strategies and markdown management.”

    Supporting this approach will be a single view of the customer across region and within brands, giving David Jones a comprehensive understanding of who, how and where each customer shops, Robinson said.

    Data and/or technology driven approach

    Another area of focus Robinson detailed in the CMO50 submission was establishment of a customer insights and strategy function within David Jones. He claimed this had been one component in delivering sales in excess of 10 per cent growth last quarter.

    Just 12 months ago, David Jones only had information on about 6 per cent of its customers.

    It was key to understand the competitive context and David Jones’ performance relative to the market, as well as aim to get its insights up to cover at least 60 per cent of the total customer base, he said.

    To achieve this, the team identified third-party analytics and insight programs to design a bespoke segmentation framework and models to reflect the discretionary retail marketplace. This started with classification of relevant markets and identifying key opportunities; then analysing sales data to identify customer segments based on shopping behaviours.

    From there, Robinson’s team developed category segments across fashion, home and luxury. These customer segments and models are now fully embedded.

    “We use them to assess market share, identify growth opportunities, make decisions around ranging and space allocation,” he said in his submission. “The customer insights drive our marketing decisions such as catalogue optimisation and digital media buy as well as dictating our real estate strategy.”


    For Robinson, creativity is at the heart of any good marketing strategy and has been essential in helping David Jones foster engagement and drive results.

    A recent example of this is the Spring/Summer Fashion Launch campaign, #ShotBySound, in collaboration with Australian rock legend, Daniel Johns. The creative concept centred around the world’s first fashion shoot captured by musical instruments, and leveraged synergies between fashion and music, and the stardom of Johns, to reach and engage with a broader audience.

    The unique collaboration was captured on video, with the film featured as Johns’ official music video for his new single.

    “For the first time, video content created for online replaced David Jones’ seasonal TVC, with that spend redirected to digital to amplify the content,” Robinson said.

    The campaign launched on the David Jones YouTube channel and amplified via 15-second edits of the music video. Images were also featured in the Spring/Summer 2015 campaign across outdoor, advertising, inserts, catalogues, online and social media.

    The campaign generated the highest engagement and reach of any campaign to date, driving conversion with a 13.4 per cent increase in relevant category sales year-on-year.

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