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CMO50 2018 #26-50: Alexander Meyer

  • Name Alexander Meyer
  • Title Chief marketing officer
  • Company The Iconic
  • Commenced role June 2016
  • Reporting Line CEO
  • Member of the Executive Team Yes
  • Marketing Function 130 staff, 6 direct reports
  • Industry Sector Retail and ecommerce
  • 2017 ranking New to CMO50
  • Related

    Brand Post

    When Alexander Meyer joined ecommerce fashion retailer, The Iconic, in 2016, he was tasked with nothing short of building a cult brand.

    “At that stage, The Iconic was five years old and although we were nailing our USPs, including fastest delivery across A/NZ, best brand and product assortment and brilliant customer experience, what we lacked was true sense of meaning,” he says. “We were yet to find our ‘why’.”

    The answer was in the genes: By looking deep inside the company and its people, Meyer and the team synthesised the company purpose: ‘Customer liberation’.

    “It is the reason we get up in the morning,” he says. “We want to help build a world where everyone can feel limitless to discover and express the best version of themselves, and our contribution to that is creating a seamless and inspiring shopping experience.”

    Meyer says bringing the newly formulated vision and mission to life has been one of the most important decisions he’s made as CMO. It’s also why Meyer’s advice to other marketing leaders is to remember “it’s all about the people”.

    Another of Meyer’s big achievements has been implementation of a 'customer first' versus 'channel first' approach, supported by building a single customer view architecture. This was undertaken with the support of The Iconic’s data and tech teams.

    “This allows all our marketers to visualise all relevant customer data easily and subsequently activate segmentation across channels, campaigns and customer touch points so we can serve our customers with more relevant products and content,” Meyer says.

    That doesn’t means forgetting the foundations of marketing, of course. “Modern marketers who are often digital and data natives need to make sure they do not forget to focus on applying meaningful brand and marketing strategies,” he warns.  

    From the CMO50 submission

    Innovative marketing

    To bring The Iconic’s new purpose to fruition, Meyer and his team staged The Iconic 2017 Swim Show. The event generated the highest number of social media interactions ever across its channels. It was also heralded by the Sydney Morning Herald as a ‘watershed moment for fashion diversity in Australia’.

    “Why? Because we were the first retailer in Australia to showcase ‘curvy’  and ethnically diverse models on a swimwear catwalk,” Meyer says. “The Swim Show was a platform for us to launch our stance on diversity and who we are as a company – a company that aims to help its customers, and equally its employees, to discover and express the best version of themselves.”

    Since then, The Iconic has reshaped its ecommerce catalogue strategy and stopped applying typical retouching on model images onsite, changed its model casting approach, and is repositioning its corporate social responsibility and community relations.

    “Customer liberation has solidified our journey to building emotional selling points to accompany our USPs. With both, The Iconic will be a company to be reckoned with,” Meyer claims.

    Business smarts

    Two other marketing-led initiatives are supporting the shift and fostering growth. The first is storytelling, and Meyer says his team is on a transformative mission to elevate and tap into the true power of storytelling.

    “Our aim is to reduce our reliance on transactional-based performance marketing by amplifying our CRM capabilities and further focusing on earned and shareable media,” Meyer explains. “We aim to achieve this by anchoring both in a new creative content strategy, influencing influencer marketing, and new approach to social and PR. We’re underpinning this transformation with strength from our data and programmatic media buying capabilities to ensure a strategic and informed approach.”

    Alongside driving further efficiencies in performance marketing, the team is leveraging a wider marketing mix and building more authentic, emotional connections with customers through stories with impact.  

    The second initiative has been reshaping organisational set-up. To do this, marketing is applying learnings from the tech and product world and implemented the first iteration of cross-functional squad teams in marketing.

    Data and tech-driven approach

    At a wider level, The Iconic has embraced a strict test-and-learn culture anchored in data insights and a strong customer focus. One example of how this is coming into play in marketing is geo-split testing in paid channels.

    The team is also geo-split testing across YouTube and most recently, out-of-home, where several creative assets were testing in different postcodes to gauge customer reaction and engagement.

    In addition, the retailer has introduced personalisation in email via product recommendations, based on a person’s shopping behaviour to further enhance customer experiences, Meyer says.

    Fostering adaptability and collaboration

    To encourage thinking outside the square and foster  brand purpose internally, The Iconic has created ‘pet project days’, an opportunity for any staff to take a day off their business-as-usual activities to create something they are passionate about.

    The only condition is employees must create something that makes the customers’ lives better or their team’s lives better, Meyer says. The idea, which originally span out of the tech team, has now been institutionalised across marketing and production.

    “What we’ve seen is not only an increase in staff engagement levels, but fantastic ideas that we’ve executed as part of our marketing strategy,” he says.

    What’s more, newly installed cross-functional squads have proved a great way for the marketing team to work between marketing, catalogue production including styling, photography and retouching, and the wider company.

    “Squads are usually formed based on a problem we are trying to solve – people who have the right skills or are genuinely interested in the problem at hand for a team to solve the issue by a set time – usually three months,” Meyer says.

    “There is no single area within our business that can solely solve the problems our customers face with shopping, be it online or bricks-and-mortar. So the only way to truly live up to our purpose of customer liberation is by fostering cross-collaboration.”

    This has also led to cross-pollination between the creative and marketing team, and the user experience design teams in product and technology.

    “They are now meeting regularly and influencing each other’s work across our brand guidelines and UX guidelines,” Meyer adds.

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