Q&A: Superdry group marketing director Simon Lloyd

Superdry’s group marketing director Simon Lloyd discussed social media, losing your edge and why TV advertising is not for the clothes brand on stage at Marketing Week Live 2014.

Superdry logo

Marketing Week: What’s the current marketing strategy for Superdry?

Simon Lloyd: I think the advantage for Superdry is that it is only 10 years old so it has kind of grown up with the digital consumer – it’s not had to adapt from going from the traditional marketing world. We have never done TV ads – we have really grown up organically with the digital consumer. Our focus is all about the product being on the right people.

We famously made a big shift when David Beckham wore our T-shirt. A lot of what we do is looking at what influencers there are amongst our consumers and listening to the customer day in and day out. We have not built this global brand through traditional media – it’s been from the ground up.

MW: You are Superdry’s first CMO. What are you tasked with?

SL: [The role] is a double-edged sword. I have come into a business that has been hugely successful over the last 10 years without doing what they [the founders] think of as marketing. Of course, as we grow, and grow internationally, we need to think how to segment the type of customer we are looking at. In the UK we are quite a mass-market brand and that has its marketing challenge.

It’s great to have that success but how do we stay really relevant and cool to the core consumer who made us famous? Also, internationally, how do we position the brand in a way it was first positioned before it was popular? We were a cool young youth brand. We really need to understand the customer and the multiple journeys they are on.


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MW: What is the approach to multichannel retailing at Superdry?

SL: A lot has been done by entrepreneurial decision-making. When we have gone into a new market we have just been very quick to spot the right partner to work with. We have been ruthless about how we execute the brand in a retail space.

I have always been very impressed for a business that has always been so entrepreneurial to have this ruthless retail experience. We do have a functional website that is consistent across the countries. The challenge is joining up the mcommerce platform and bringing some brand personality. In some of the markets like India we want to be mobile first.

MW: Where do you see growth coming from?

SL: One of the challenges we have is that out success is borne out of a strong brand proposition at retail. We have three key product lines – the windcheater, hoodie and T-shirt but we actually have more than 2000 pieces in our range but three products are defining us.

The challenge is the classic kind of marketing awareness job. International growth is important to us and we are continuing our rapid expansion plan there.

MW: What is your take on content marketing and social media?

When I came into the business we did not have any marketing strategy. We have to pick on areas and content is one of those. We have been creating events and experiences but we have not been very good at taking content out of those events. I have been at Supergroup seven months and done two major events. We have concentrated on buying rights to content from artists so we can broadcast that for our own concerns.

Content creates the brand experience but you need to join up the content and the marketing teams. You can fall foul of having an amazing content strategy but not convert it.

With the content everything we did drove people back to the website. The challenge we have for younger audiences on social media is that we see a lot of them disengaging from Facebook and engaging with Instagram – but how do you link that out to your own platforms?

As long as you are ruthless about showing some of the working and the user journeys from other media you can build up a powerful business case for sceptical CEOs. I always the question any marketing director who says they have solved the problem of showing true ROI from social media activity.

MW: Will Supergroup be investing more in a marketing budget now that it has invested in you as a CMO?

SL: We are not going to go onto TV. We will really ramp up what we are doing from digital media perspective. I am a huge believer in a content strategy and a jump forward in that digital world. There’s a lot of talk about ‘proximity’ marketing. We will really try to be mobile first and we are not tied by the shackles of having traditional media models.

Seventy per cent of what we are doing is in the digital space. We do some outdoor but that’s as far as we go with traditional media. I think the game changer in terms of retail marketing is ibeacons. I don’t like talking about digital marketing. I just think digital is part of everything you do.

When I was at Virgin Atlantic [as director of global marketing] it defined itself with power advertising and selling a dream. Digital was still something they were not still terrifically great at. How do you think digital first? TV needs to reflect a starting point from digital – that’s hard to do with a company formed from great TV as.

You kind of have to break up this world … you have to have teams that collaborate. To think digital first you have got to deconstruct the way your business works.

We are at the very start of the process of making sure all the relevant parties responsible for delivering [business]know their roles. In a lot of organisations it’s rare to have ecommerce and the digital channels as part of your marketing organisation.

MW: What is the future for bricks and mortar stores?

SL: I don’t buy into the idea that the physical store is going to die and everything will move to mcommerce channels. I think it’s about the real brand experience you can offer. I think consumers will want something to be more immersive.

Retailers that can create a real physical experience around beautiful products in a way that makes it easy for them to purchase are the ones that will ultimately win out. If you don’t have a fusion of the two (bricks and mortar and mcommerce) you will struggle.

I don’t think the ‘store of the future concept is right for Superdry because we are more of a gritty, earthy environment but it’s about how you bring technology into the stores.

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