Coles CMO emphasises marketing's brave agenda

Simon McDowell also defends supermarket giant's low-price focus in the face of farmer backlash

The CMO of one of Australia's largest supermarket chains has defended the group's focus on reducing prices in the face of farmer backlash while also stressing the importance of courage in a modern brand strategy.

Speaking at the third annual Mumbrella 360 event in Sydney, Coles Group CMO Simon McDowell, acknowledged the ongoing battle between keeping prices low for customers, versus the pressure supermarkets place on suppliers including Australian farmers, but said the business genuinely believes its low-price policy is in the interests of both groups.

“We have to look after our customers; those Australian families whose cost of living is going up every year,” he said. “The reality is the average Aussie family is living on $55,000 a year and it’s not easy for them.

“It’s a key part of our brand to bring prices down, and we have invested hundreds and hundreds of millions into achieving this.

“We genuinely believe that by keeping prices low and selling more, we are also looking after the interests of both customers and partners.”

McDowell also used the Mumbrella event to detail Coles’ new campaign with the world’s hottest music group, One Direction, which will see it giving away 10,000 tickets to the band’s sold out Australian concert series, as well as to an exclusive Coles-only gig in Sydney. The campaign has been launched in partnership with Channel 9 and 9 Live and follows the retailer’s series of ‘Down down ’ advertising campaigns featuring Aussie rockers, Status Quo.

McDowell said the campaign is yet another step in the journey to be different and unique, and raised the question of whether other Australian brands are as ready to be as brave with their own strategies.

He also made a point that he wasn't concerned with what the adverising community thinks. About 90 per cent of Coles’ marketing is done in-house.

“We are trying to be engaging and fun, but don’t be fooled by all the sizzle – we take this seriously and pride ourselves on being brave and doing things in a compelling way,” McDowell told delegates. “A lot of thought and science goes on by Coles and our partners to communicate what we want to say. We take our business and our ambition of looking after customers very seriously.”

McDowell and the Coles executive team are in the midst of a five-year, $34bn business turnaround plan launched following the appointment of CEO, Ian McLeod. He said the supermarket giant aims to build the most famous brand in Australia, retail or otherwise.

“The Coles business under Ian’s leadership has been transformed, and there are more customers spending more money with us than ever before,” McDowell added.

Follow CMO on Twitter: @CMOAustralia, take part in the CMO Australia conversation on LinkedIn: CMO Australia, or join us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CMOAustralia

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Show Comments

Latest Videos

Launch marketing council Episode 5: Retailer and supplier

In our fifth and final episode, we delve into the relationship between retailer and supplier and how it drives and influences launch marketing strategies and success. To do that, we’re joined by Campbell Davies, group general manager of Associated Retailers Limited, and Kristin Viccars, marketing director A/NZ, Apex Tool Group. Also featured are Five by Five Global managing director, Matt Lawton, and CMO’s Nadia Cameron.

More Videos

Great read. I agree that it should be a perfect balance between interacting with your customers and knowing your brand. As a business, yo...

Caroline Scott

7 ways CMOs can improve their customer engagement game

Read more

Very true. Team development helps improve collaboration among the team members. I was able to improve my team's collaboration skills by t...

Quent Sinder

Why empowering others can help make you a great leader

Read more

CRM is a very good software that can help you succeed in your business. In my company, this system has allowed me to improve customer rel...

Anna Janicka

Sensis rebrands to Thryv and brings business software to Australian SMBs

Read more

AI Leasing Assistants have finally arrived for the multifamily industry. With so many to choose from it can be hard to figure out which i...

Alice Labs Pte. Ltd.

CMO's top 8 martech stories for the week - 6 May 2021

Read more

Nowadays, when everything is being done online, it is good to know that someone is trying to make an improvement. As a company, you are o...

Marcus

10 lessons Telstra has learnt through its T22 transformation

Read more

Blog Posts

Why if marketing is all you do, you’ll never be very good at it

OK, so you’re probably thinking: “Here comes another article to badger me about living in my bubble.” And also, “I bet this bubble-bashing piece will go on to explain how I can achieve better results through some heady dose of new life experiences, new routines and annoyingly different opinions on social media.”

Dane Smith and Toby Harrison

Ogilvy Australia

A leader’s role in rebuilding a culture of confidence

Every day, there are new predictions and studies on the future of work, the state of the economy and the unfolding global pandemic. All of which creates uncertainty and heightens the imperative of effective leadership.

Michelle Gibbings

Workplace expert, author

Confused About Your Customers?​

​I've worked in brand and marketing for more than 20 years. But there’s one area where I’ve found myself going around in circles and I must admit I'm becoming increasingly confused.

Rich Curtis

CEO, FutureBrand A/NZ

Sign in