How Rip Curl's new CX and data chief is planning his experience attack

Former Sweat, Myer, Virgin and Nike brand and marketing leader joins iconic Australian surfing brand as its first chief CX and data officer

Mike Scott
Mike Scott

Addressing inconsistencies across customer engagement channels, harnessing data for decision making and making the most of the renaissance in surfing are all in the sights of Rip Curl’s first CX and data chief.

Michael Scott took up the newly created chief customer experience and data officer role at the Australian surfing products manufacturing and retail brand in December and reports directly to Rip Curl CEO, Michael Daly. The role follows a nearly two-year stint as chief brand and marketing of app-based Australian fitness offering, Sweat, where Scott was responsible for a host of initiatives that resulted in a 52 per cent increase in paying member growth. The role saw Scott recognised in the 2020 edition of the CMO50 list.

Prior to this, Scott built his marketing and CX credentials through roles including chief brand, marketing and loyalty officer for Myer; GM of brand strategy, marketing and media at Virgin Australia; director of brand marketing and category for Nike across the Pacific region; and head of marketing for McDonalds in the UK.

Scott told CMO the new role and team will actively partner across the Rip Curl business to drive improvements to the end-to-end experience off the back of significant growth in surfing and acceleration of ecommerce over the past 12 months.

“Rip Curl historically was a wholesale business, which grew very rapidly into retail, then grew as quickly into a digital business. Like most businesses and brands, this digital growth has accelerated during COVID,” he explained.  

“Surfing is also experiencing a renaissance given the COVID restrictions. And with organised sport plateauing, surfing is appealing to those getting out and about globally.”

Scott’s appointment also comes just over a year after New Zealand-based outdoor retailer, Kathmandu, purchased the iconic Rip Curl business for $350 million. As Scott puts it, the combination of Kathmandu’s backing and a desire by Rip Curl’s chief executive to ensure CX is optimised across the organisation made the role an appealing one.

He cited the CX lens as end-to-end, and from initially buying into the brand, whether that’s through advertising or surfing events, to post-transactions and repairing a surfboard or wetsuit.

“We’re selling and engaging through multiple channels and there are inconsistencies in the buying experience - in some parts it’s clunky. My role is to work with the organisation to identify then prioritise and resolve these in a way so that the experience is effective and intuitive for consumers as well as personalised,” Scott said.  

Part of the role is therefore data governance, establishing data resources and insight capabilities to ensure Rip Curl can use data more effectively to personalise communications, deepen relationships and experiences.

“My role requires me to understand and work with product, retail, ecommerce leaders and help bring the organisation together. That’s the fun bit,” Scott said.  

Scott’s burgeoning data and insights team will see him recruit new staff as well as corral existing employees through fresh remits and priorities. “We need to furnish the organisation with internally accessible, quantifiable insights and build strategy to then make data-driven decisions,” he continued.  

“Our data team will help us prioritise. But it is easy to identify the pieces getting in the consumer’s way that make it less easy to interact with us. We’ll then work out what has the biggest impact and will benefit us and consumers most as both a data and commercial undertaking.”

Scott said he’s “right in the thick of decision making now”, learning about the Rip Curl machine and the surfing industry.

There’s also the question of where synergies can be found across the Rip Curl and Kathmandu businesses. “Both brands are operating in independent way, but in the back end there is an enormous amount of opportunity and synergy you can identify, from manufacturing to supply chain, logistics,” Scott said.

“But the brands need to remain true to themselves, and they’re powerful in their own right. There is no rush to change that.”  

On a personal level, Scott said he was enjoying the fact he’s now working for a business based in his home state of Victoria.

“Having commuted and travelled for 20 years, it’s nice to travel to Torquay 20 minutes away from home and be home at night,” he added.  

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