CMO50 #26-50: Sofia Lloyd-Jones, Pacific Brands
Getting to know its customers lies at the heart of Sheridan’s marketing plans for the next 1-2 years, says GM of marketing, Sofia Lloyd-Jones.
“I’m continuing to evolve the Sheridan marketing model efficiencies and effectiveness to be a pure 1:1 model, with improved data analytics capability and a customer-centric, innovative thinking culture,” she says.
“It’s also about investing in developing marketing capability and leadership behaviours within the team, to support customer experience planning and execution.”
From the CMO50 submission
Business contribution and innovation
When Lloyd-Jones took on the head of marketing role for Sheridan in July 2012, the brand was a well-known sheet and towel brand in the Australian market but lagging behind Target from a home furnishings market share position. There was also latent consumer love for the brand, which was perceived to be “for my mum, not for me”. The fact that Sheridan had been bought and sold numerous times over its history further contributed to a loss of brand heritage.
At the same time, Sheridan was looking to move away from its historic roots as a wholesale driven business and become more of a direct-to-consumer retailer. In 2015, Sheridan is the second-largest brand within Pacific Brands’ portfolio after Bonds, and the Sheridan Group accounts for 24 per cent of Pacific Brands’ turnover.
The Australian home furnishings market (excluding kitchen linens and curtains) estimated annual spend is $2.8 billion (Roy Morgan, June 2015).
Lloyd-Jones’ new approach was about re-energising Sheridan from a ‘sheet and towel’ brand to a ‘home lifestyle’ brand, by introducing foundation brand management driven by customer insights. With responsibility for the brand vision delivery across the entire customer journey, she built capability to establish new disciplines and programs for digital marketing, visual merchandising, retail store design, retail marketing, content publishing and influencer engagement strategies including social media and launch of the Sheridan Life blog.
Extending beyond Sheridan’s traditional bought/paid media channels, Lloyd-Jones also sought to leverage existing owned media channels, such as retail stores, packaging, website and CRM, and extend to new earned media channels, such as social media and PR, for maximum impact.
Over three years, she has successfully evolved the Sheridan marketing model from traditional above-the-line towards a 1:1 customer-centric marketing model in line with the organisation’s evolution towards a direct-to-consumer retailer. In F16, 75 per cent of Sheridan revenue is being derived from direct to consumer retail sales.
Sheridan is now the clear market leader of the home furnishings market, with a dominant 4 per cent lead over the second player (Roy Morgan, six months to June 2015). Sheridan total revenue has increased by 29 per cent over two years, with market share growth in all core categories. Retail sales in Australia were up 19.4 per cent in F15, underpinned by healthy 13 per cent comparative store grown.
In addition, Sheridan online sales has increased significantly, with digital marketing investment delivering healthy gross profits and more than 30 per cent traffic growth year-on-year from combined paid, owned and earned marketing sources.
With the introduction of CRM, the customer database has increased by 100 per cent over two years through strategic customer acquisition and lifecycle management strategies, and both Sheridan and Sheridan Outlet databases achieve strong Net Promoter Score (NPS) metrics.
Modern marketing and customer engagement thinking and effectiveness
At the outset, Lloyd-Jones established a clear brand vision and core equities that reasserted Sheridan’s root strengths and differentiated its competitive position in the market, prioritised by customer value-for-money drivers.
By envisioning a clear global home lifestyle brand proposition for Sheridan, ‘Beautiful Australian Living’, Lloyd-Jones built internal stakeholder and staff momentum, plus key trade support for the new Sheridan brand journey. She also updated the brand marque to more appropriately represent a timeless premium aesthetic and developed tone of voice and visual guidelines to support the new positioning.
Helping to bring back that heritage, Lloyd-Jones has commissioned Sydney University professor, Dr Prudence Black, to research and archive the history of the brand and its founder, Claudio Alcorso, in order to begin to tell the brand story in the lead up to Sheridan’s 50th birthday in 2017.
Getting to know customers better is another part of the marketing strategy. Lloyd-Jones has enhanced consumer segmentation and shopper research to inform the customer value proposition by segment and shopping mission, to support the evolution towards personalised communication.
In F15, she established the ‘5As’, Sheridan’s new brand and customer metrics, to align with the new Sheridan vision: Awareness, adoration, attitudinal, action and advocacy. These are measured quarterly. In F16, Lloyd-Jones has evolved the brand health quarterly study to include the ‘5As’ for each of the Sheridan and Sheridan Outlet consumer segments and overlayed this with regression driver analysis to set clear segment KPIs.
Culture is the other component to change, and Lloyd-Jones is working to embed a consumer-driven culture at the heart of the business. Without a formalised consumer insights function within Sheridan, her approach is to drive insights capability across the business, empowering everyone to think about how they impact the customer.
Data and/or technology driven approach
Having established the Sheridan Insider Community in F15, an online panel of 2000 consumers, Lloyd-Jones has sought to drive a more nimble approach to customer insight that informs ongoing product design, retail store design and communications, plus in-depth customer journey CVP by segment. Sheridan Insiders complete monthly missions and reviews and they are also welcomed into Sheridan HQ to preview new ranges before public launch, plus meet with our passionate product and design team.
In F16, Lloyd-Jones will establish Sheridan Innovation Incubators to continue building nimble insight capability in a way that connects multiple data sources and cross-functional perspectives to drive creative idea generation and action plans for greater commercial leverage and advantage.
With enhanced loyalty data from a new CRM program, Lloyd-Jones is developing capability to integrate qualitative customer insights with behavioural customer data to optimise customer lifetime value. With increased technology investment, Sheridan’s CRM roadmap is underway with data-driven hypothesis informing test and learn communication, evolving towards 1:1 customer communication across the customer journey.
Lloyd-Jones is also partnering to drive cross-functional work streams for improved customer engagement including an enhanced omni-channel retail website (via ecommerce and logistics), retail customer service experience (via HR, retail operations, supply chain), and new employee value proposition (via HR).
Category expansion into new home lifestyle product categories was critical to the future Sheridan vision, supporting not only the new brand position, but also driving improved retail store metrics and customer lifetime value via CRM.
Using initial direction from Bain & Co, Lloyd-Jones had responsibility for defining and delivering the customer proposition in these new categories, leading customer and shopper research and driving implementation across communications, packaging, retail store design, visual merchandising and online. These category introductions were successful in attracting new people to the brand and getting existing customers to spend more per transaction and/or increase purchase frequency. By December 2014, Sheridan had introduced new categories of loungewear, table linen, scent and home fragrance, personalisation and baby.
Retail store design
With the success of new categories and strong retail performance, a retail store design review was required to allow for a larger retail footprint with flexibility to accommodate a new product mix, including future service offerings.
Lloyd-Jones delivered a new Sheridan retail store design to support new lifestyle brand proposition and improve retail sales per square metre through customer-centric selling solutions. The design has been rolled out in Chadstone, Miranda and Bondi in Australia to date, with great success – Chadstone and Bondi stores are achieving a greater sales/sqm versus pre-upgrade (Miranda is a new site with no comparison).
Lloyd-Jones has worked to define the new Sheridan Baby & Kids brand extension and retail store concept, which is live in one location in Shanghai and rolled out across 35 David Jones concession locations in Australia from September 2015. As part of this project, she’s spearheading a new approach to retail design that will see Sheridan drive greater commercial efficiencies in capex and opex, plus improved inventory turns and sustainable growth in sales per square metre.
Once completed, Lloyd-Jones is looking to transfer project learnings across boutique, concession and outlet channels to optimise retail store lifecycle throughout the 140+ store network across Australia and international markets.