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CMO50 #26-50: Jono Gelfand, Spotlight

  • Name Jono Gelfand
  • Title General manager of marketing
  • Company Spotlight Retail Group
  • Commenced role July 2011
  • Reporting Line Group CEO
  • Member of the Executive Team Yes
  • Marketing Function 42 staff, 6 direct reports
  • Brand Post

    Digital Foundations Essential for Optimal Customer Engagement

    Spotlight’s GM of marketing, Jono Gelfand, is on a mission to integrate the retail group’s marketing and communications across all channels using a customer-first mentality.

    “We still always start with these principles: What is the objective, who are we targeting, key messaging and the call to action, measurement, budget and purpose,” he says.

    “Once defined, we are then able to review a very specific channel plan to determine the optimum mix of traditional channels, loyalty channels and local area mechanisms. We can also overlay PR, non-catalogue communications and social media to ensure that at any point in time, our customer always sees a consistent, on-brand message with a specific and compelling call to action.”

    From the CMO50 submission

    Business contribution and innovation

    The Spotlight Retail group comprises of two retail chains: Spotlight Stores, with 120 locations across Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia and Singapore; and Anaconda Stores, with 40 shopfronts in Australia. Gelfand said the company has been a loud and powerful advertiser for over 40 years, with a strong slant towards traditional advertising channels, especially mass media and loyalty marketing.

    But when it was time to launch the Spotlight business into Malaysia in July 2014, the team knew it needed a different strategy. In Kuala Lumpur, there are 29 daily newspapers, plus countless radio and television channels in three main languages. The one unifying medium with cut through is Facebook, together with the several key influential bloggers.

    With a limited budget and high expectations, Spotlight put together a multi-channel strategy, combining limited amounts of traditional channels with an extensive digital focus. It also hosted a bloggers tour to Australia, taking 12 of the most influential bloggers into stores and for previews. This resulted in more than 25,000 highly engaged local members excited for Spotlight to open in Malaysia, Gelfand said.

    On the morning of the opening, more than 7000 customers were waiting at the front of the store, and Spotlight achieved a record day for a grand opening sale. It has since successfully opened two further stores in Malaysia and continues to rely on digital channels as a key part of the marketing mix.

    Modern marketing and customer engagement thinking and effectiveness

    One of Gelfand’s recent marketing programs was for Anaconda, a highly seasonal business with sales peaks at Easter, Father’s Day and Christmas.

    As part of its pre-planning for Father’s Day in 2015, Anaconda offered Adventure Club members free tents on the Saturday before Father’s Day. Gelfand said marketing worked with the merchandise team on product, and partnered with planning teams on the mechanisms and minimum spends for the giveaway to ensure it maximised sales and gross margin.

    Marketing also needed to work with the operational teams to ensure retailers were set up and ready to go, as well as on staff communications, point-of-sale and overall advertising. Marketing then used an integrated mix of digital and traditional mediums to promote the offer.

    On the morning of the giveaway, lines of people were outside almost every store, and the net result was double-digit sales growth across all stores.

    Data and/or technology driven approach

    Using its strong VIP club with more than 200,000 members, Gelfand said Spotlight has continued to fine tune its customer segments, micro segments and one-to-one communications.

    A recent successful example is a reactivation strategy for Anaconda. Understanding the lifetime value of a customer is critical if the retailer is to retain customers for as long as possible, Gelfand said.

    For lapsed members that had not shopped with the retailer for 12 months, Anaconda has started to send personalised one-to-one offers via direct mail and/or email. These have prevented many lapses, increasing sales and the worth of that member to the group in the longer term. Gelfand said these communications have had response rates in the 50-55 per cent range and have increased the average sale of that member by a similar factor.


    The most exciting way to use creativity these days is to harness the creativity of customers and staff, Gelfand said.

    “Never before have we been able to create a space that our customers can genuinely engage with us, where we can start the conversation and then let it take all these new and exciting tangents that we had never even thought of,” he said.

    The most recent example for Spotlight is its 2015 Christmas campaign. The theme ‘Make it Merry’ has been applied to all traditional marketing activities, including extensive point-of-sale and in-store displays. Gelfand and his team launched a series of exclusive customer blogger events in Australia, Malaysia and New Zealand.

    Using the #makeitmerry, the brand has been able to tap into the creativity of the community and shared content with other customers, store staff and internal creative teams.

    “This has given rise to hundreds of project ideas, decorating tips and presentation concepts that we would never have been able to create or share, and taps into the power of our community, which in turn creates a high level of brand awareness and customer engagement,” Gelfand said.

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