The Transformation of Retail Marketing – Lisa O’ Keefe

Behind the rise of omni-channel marketing is the increasing prevalence of mobile technology and big data. The height of this is a world in which consumers move seamlessly between media platforms and experiential, intuitive environments determining their retail behaviour.


This is a daring new world. It is a world where retailers must be creative in order to attract new customers and keep the old. It is a world where innovative marketing platforms are those that forecast trends instead of fall behind them.

Marketing Eye licensee Lisa O’Keeffe has spent her career studying new marketing trends.


“The most important change in retail marketing is the move away from static, product and price advertising. It is now an intuitive combination of product, price, content and experience. Buy-in rarely occurs from static ad generation. Today consumers are looking for great content and experiences to influence their purchasing decisions.”


Content is indeed king. Yet in the face of changing customer experiences, retailers are not only telling a story they are creating bespoke tales.


“Content is at the core of everything we do when it comes to communicating a retail message,” O’Keeffe says.


“The way we produce great content is by looking at what a business does, what the product is and then taking a journalistic approach to it. What is the hook? What is interesting? Today marketing is part branding and part story creation.”


It is also part experience. Look at the way retailers are currently interacting with consumers: the revolution in wearables and nearables, otherwise known as beacon technology. This new technology allows marketers and retailers to engage with customers in their physical premises and identify and communicate with consumers in a precise geographic context. For instance beacons have been used in London’s upmarket Regent Street shopping strip to alert shoppers about discounts and promotions. Nearables have been designed to improve customer experience and therefore loyalty. They are designed to create individual experiences, in real time giving the customer everything they want through a click of the button.


Red Bull has been creating bespoke stories and experiences for some time. Its affiliation

with extreme sports enables consumers to be part of its story as they live vicariously through sponsored extreme sport athletes. Red Bull has created a story; an identity built around a community of like minded people.


Imagine the power of this kind of story telling combined with nearable or experiential technologies. The possibilities are endless. Businesses must thus incorporate a whole

of marketing approach that is intuitive and utilizes the available technology to expand their footprint.


“Today’s marketing is about creating an engaging philosophy around your product. That is what marketers do. We then execute the strategy for you and deliver it to target audiences.”


O’Keeffe has been practicing her own marketing philosophy since becoming the Advertising Manager for Bunnings West Australia, South Australia and Northern Territory. She led a team overseeing Bunnings marketing strategies. Yet as we’ve explained, marketing has transitioned enormously since then.


When she launched Scorch Marketing in 2008, consumer loyalty no longer held sway; social media and experiential learning had changed the landscape. The upside of these changes to any astute marketer is that consumers pick up brands more quickly than in previous eras. So the key moving forward was how to engage audiences. Today with the rise of experience buying that challenge is being met.


And this is where outsourced marketing can play to a brand’s strength by offering third party insight.


“One of the benefits of having an outsourced marketing team is that we can help retailers look at what they do, what their product is and help them create great experiences and content that people will want to consume.”


O’Keeffe has worked with SMEs far and wide in her pursuit of creating high impact retail marketing strategies. Her past clients include German giant Hülsta, a company that manufactures high quality furniture for distribution around the world and for whom she developed their Australian marketing strategy, Tile Boutique, a network of 35 independent licensed dealers across Australia and Ultimo Interiors, Perth’s premier furniture retailer.

All of her clients have given her insight into the high-end consumer goods category and she

has developed their marketing strategies with a firm understanding of the new market place.


“Retailers must have a comprehensive, intuitive marketing strategy,” O’Keeffe says.


“It is the marketers role to build a bespoke plan, create great content and experiences around that, and deliver it to the target audience in a way that resonates and creates action.


“What I do first is go in and determine a business’s current marketing practices. I

will have a look at their offline and online strategies. Traditional media is still important and if targeted correctly a glossy magazine or local newspaper can have a major impact, however the online components such as Ad Words, intuitive selling and social media campaigns offer a full digital experience that cannot be underestimated.”


And to attract new audiences these elements are imperative.


“Younger generations of people do not always watch free air television and do not consume traditional media, so if you want to reach that demographic you have to be where they are. That includes snapchat and yet many retailers do not have a snapchat strategy in place.”


The future of retail marketing lies in intuitive customer experience; people want to feel that they are engaging with a product and brand. And as technology enables businesses to reach more and more people, experiences are becoming increasingly personal.


For the marketer this means a greater level of creativity is required.


“As a marketer you have to be more creative and think hard about what message you are putting out there.”


To this end omni-channel, intuitive content inspires human behaviour and creates unforgettable experiences that determine whether a customer stays with you or gets caught in the retail marketing ether.