CMO interview: Carving out marketing’s commercial role at Myer

Myer general manager of brand and marketing, Mike Scott, discusses how customer loyalty program data, his relationship with the IT team, and geolocation are all part of his quest to modernise the retail brand
Mike Scott

Mike Scott

Any marketing leader worth their salt will tell you customer data is the backbone of the programs they plan and decisions they make today. And for Myer executive general manager for brand and marketing, Mike Scott, the retailer’s customer loyalty program is the “sleeping giant” that can provide the insights it needs to win over modern consumers.

“We have more than 5 million members in the Myer One program, which gives us terrific insight around what people are buying, visitation and spending,” he tells CMO. “The opportunity is there to take and use that in an effective way to make life easier for our consumers, serving up relevant, personalised, predictive offerings and experiences. It’s incredibly important to get that right and get better in that area than we are today.

“We also need to ensure the program keeps pace with the speed consumers are moving at. Much like the Myer brand more broadly, we need to find a place for it contemporary society which is true to what consumers do, think and feel.”

Scott joined Myer six months ago in the newly created and executive-level role, which encompasses brand, marketing and loyalty. The position was established following a reshuffle of executive ranks that saw MD of marketing and merchandising and deputy group MD, Daniel Bracken, promoted to chief merchandising and customer officer.

Scott’s marketing career also includes more than seven years with McDonalds, two years as UK marketing director, plus director of brand and marketing at Nike Asia-Pacific. But it’s his most recent role as GM of marketing at Virgin Australia for three-and-a-half-years helping transform the airline’s business model that set him up for Myer.

Scott joined at a time of significant change for the retailer. Eighteen months ago, Myer announced its five-year $600 million ‘New Myer’ strategy aimed at transforming the business through four key pillars: Customer-led offers, wonderful experiences, omni-channel shopping and a productivity step change.

“Myer is a great brand, with a 116-year heritage, and it’s played an important role in Australian consumers’ lives,” Scott comments. “Richard Umbers [Myer CEO] and the board have set a transformation agenda, and we’re one-and-a-half-years into the five-year plan. There was the attraction of coming in and contributing to that transformation, which is very consumer centric. Having lived through a transformation at Virgin, it’s an exhilarating time to be with the company.

“Richard also has a very diverse and interesting background and is a digital native. Knowing how we need to reimagine Myer for the future under his lead was an attractive proposition.”

Aligning marketing with IT and digital

A key ally for Scott in making these customer-led plans a reality is Myer’s chief data, digital and IT officer, Mark Cripsey. He cites a natural overlap between the two functions.

“Personally, we’re kindred spirits and all about the analytics and data, and our teams work closely and collaboratively,” Scott says. “I know that’s quite unique in corporate organisations, as there can be territorialism between those two functions. But in Myer, the partnership is fantastic, productive and positive.”

Every marketing decision is based upon data and gathering insight, Scott says, and it’s the loyalty program providing the foundational layer. While the Myer one database is owned by Cripsey’s team in a functional sense, brand, marketing and loyalty own communications coming out of that.

“It’s a natural requirement to work closely together; Mark’s team brings intelligence and analytics and passes it over to us. We then have to ensure the manifestation of that is true to the insight they’re delivering,” Scott explains. “It’s important to get a workable and efficient process in place, and clear guidelines between the teams on when the baton gets passed.”

Helping ensure teams are on the same page are shared KPIs and goals executionally and strategically as part of the five-year transformation agenda, Scott says. In addition, the organisation has a clear definition of four core consumer groups that provide Myer with the greatest value and volume opportunities.

“Teams are all geared to achieve the same outcome,” he says. “Richard and the executive team are driving a very consumer centric agenda as well.

“When you have shared KPIs, metrics and consumer priorities, it makes the job that whole lot easier. The disciplines are still very important to ensure clarity of roles across teams, but for the most part we have those three elements in place, which leads to great outcomes and better execution.”

Up next: How Myer is putting digital and data into action

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Digital and data in action

Most recently, this combination of marketing, customer insight and digital capability was used to relaunch Myer’s Warringah Mall store in NSW.

Marketing activity was localised, and Scott’s team combined Facebook and Google with geolocation and the Myer one database, to achieve it. Social data was segmented against target consumer groups and lookalike cohorts were identified. From there, tailored communications and advertising were sent to those in the Warringah Mall catchment area.

“That store was the purest manifestation of new Myer – from the brands we brought in, to the proprietary experiences on and offline, and the omni-channel shopping experience,” Scott says. “That was pilot of everything we do in the future more broadly… We will scale those activities based on those learnings.”

Scott describes digital as the combination of social, mobile and effortless transactional experiences that are available anytime, anywhere and anyhow for consumers. “We need to drag back these new terms and technologies back to consumers, using these technologies to better fulfil needs, and enhance experiences,” he says.

Another way Myer is looking to further improve location-based, real-time marketing is through beacons. In 2016, the retailer became part of a global pilot program with Google, which will give it the ability to communicate through beacons and push notifications to better engage with consumers when in-store.

“The opportunity for us to enable push notifications is terrific, and the ability that will give us to send more personalised communications is the big thing there for me,” Scott says. “The area we need to get more focused on is the role mobile is playing. We need to make sure the mobile experience back into is effortless, simple, that the user experience is right, and equally ensure the formats we’re serving and content we’re producing is easily consumed on mobile.

“As a big retailer that has historically operated in marketing channels like press and catalogues, there needs to be a shift in gear in our thinking and the style and type of content and creative we produce.”

But while the shift to social and digital has been substantial over the last six months, Scott is quick to point out the ongoing importance of catalogues, TV and press. He’s also one of a growing number of brand custodians looking to become a media player in their own right, and sees an opportunity to commercialise Myer’s owned assets accordingly.

“Our Emporium magazine is one of the biggest fashion magazines in Australia, we have 1.5 million visitors to our website on a weekly basis, 5 million people in our loyalty program and 150 million people going through our stores on an annual basis,” Scott says. “Consolidate all of those formats, assets and platforms, and the ability for us to achieve great reach and great frequency of messaging and communication to consumers is compelling.

“As a first step, we need to ensure we are focused on our owned brands and business, taking a channel platform view from inside out, as opposed to starting on a paid media level and working back in. It’s about consolidating and optimising our assets to allow us to do a better job with the consumers we want to speak to.

“Equally, the opportunity for us to commercialise those assets, in a positive way that doesn’t impact our consumers’ journey, is a great one. They are the two big opportunities that exist for us around owned media.”

Changing role of marketing

According to Scott, the expectation and requirement of marketing within corporates today is all about driving growth.

“There should be a growth agenda at the heart of what the marketing group are accountable for. And that should be centred on the consumer,” he says. “The expectation of marketing is about delivering thought leadership in and around consumers, and using consumer insight and human truth in the business category and context you’re in, to help the organisation to evolve and develop and create or improve every point of interaction and touchpoint your customers have with the overall brand and organisation.”

To do this, marketers must be commercially anchored and understand the commercial drivers of the wider organisation. At Myer, Scott has equal accountability for the commercial performance of the business as his executive peers, and he describes the marketing, merchandising and store teams as a “three-legged stool”.

“As much as I will always advocate the consumer is part of everything you do, first and foremost as a marketing practitioner, you need to understand the machine you’re operating within,” Scott says. “If you can’t speak to commercial performance at the table with your executive peers, you’ll never win. You need to do that to have credibility as a first position before you start advocating consumer, creative or proprietary experiences.”

Alongside being commercially anchored, Scott’s other top attributes for a modern marketing leader are consumer centricity and digital savviness.

At a higher level, marketing’s role at Myer is now about contemporising the brand. Not only does the retailer face stronger speciality retailers and discount department stores, Scott says there’s also mall giants like Westfield, which have become a proxy for the department stores of old.

“We have a 116-year old brand which had a very obvious and important place in people’s lives 116 years ago. Due to the way society has shifted and moved and consumers’ behaviour, the Myer brand needs to find a contemporary position,” Scott says. “Ensuring everything being done across the business measures up to that aim is a really important part of what we’re accountable for.”

Again, Scott highlights the importance of the Myer one membership cohort in achieving this modern relevance. “Through that we can get a deep understanding of the values and lifetime value of these consumers offer to Myer,” he says.

“We’re diving deeply into that data and gearing our program not only around retention and prioritisation of the important consumers that have delivered lifetime value of the highest order, but acquisition too.

“We need to attract new and different consumers into the new Myer we’re setting up to become, and that is what this transformation agenda is all about.”

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