Morrisons to launch ‘marketing academy’ to regain momentum

Morrisons is investing £250,000 in creating an internal “marketing academy” to try and keep “young and enthusiastic” marketers that are leaving due to lack of professional training.

Morrisons to launch ‘marketing academy’ to regain momentum

The academy, which will launch next month, aims to provide the supermarket’s marketers with professional marketing training in areas including planning, proof writing and campaign management. Everyone in the marketing department will be put through a three-day foundation module over the next three months that has been designed with consultancy Brand Learning.

There is then a second element, called “skills training”, where Morrisons has worked with Brand Learning and its agencies to design specific modules in areas such as media planning, creative development and social. The supermarket is also planning to run quarterly “innovation interventions” where it will bring people in to inspire the marketing team around specific opportunities.

So far, Morrisons has invested £250,000 in the academy, including the partnership with Brand Learning, putting people through the foundation course and building the academy itself, which includes an auditorium, video conferencing suite and smaller learning spaces dubbed “Bobs”, which stands for “Bringing out the best”.

Speaking to Marketing Week, Morrisons’ corporate brand and marketing director Belinda Youngs says the lack of professional training was causing the supermarket to lose young and enthusiastic marketers. In its annual staff survey, training and development was identified as a key area where it could improve.

“This is a big investment in people to enhance their capabilities and skills and boost retention and loyalty of our people,” she adds.

She says the launch of the marketing academy is the latest stage of an overhaul of its marketing department that has been going on for the past 15 months. This includes putting in place a new agency model where the lead and channel agencies “work together to solve problems” and identifying areas, such as marketing intelligence and strategy, where the supermarket has been “less advanced” and putting in places teams to help boost its capabilities.

Youngs is tasked with launching the new marketing academy, as well as designing Morrisons marketing for its loyalty and value proposition before she leaves in July. Her departure was prompted by the decision to move Morrisons’ own brand business from her remit to the trading department, a move that she says was necessary to improve its productivity and profitability so it can invest in bringing down prices and making the range competitive given the rise of the discount grocers Aldi and Lidl.

Morrisons has pledged to invest £1bn over the next three years on cutting prices and improving the quality of its products to halt its market share slide. The supermarket’s sales at stores open for more than a year were down 2.8 per cent in the year to 2 February 2014, while Kantar Worldpanel figures estimate that its market share over the 12 weeks to 2 March fell to 11.1 per cent.

When Youngs leaves, the marketing department will be split into three “fundamental directorships”. Digital marketing will be run by Amanda Metcalfe, while Rebecca Singleton will be responsible for retail marketing and Sonia Whitely Guest will lead strategy planning and creative development. All three will report into Nick Collard, who remains marketing and customer director.

Youngs says Morrisons is aiming to make its marketing “more consistent”, with one creative across all its marketing messages, whether the supermarket is promoting its promotions, everyday low prices, Market Street fresh food proposition or in season produce. It will also be changing the Morrisons’ yellow to make it “warmer”, with Youngs claiming the brand currently comes across as a little cold.

“What we are putting in place is something that has a very consistent formula and strong brand attribution. We won’t stop talking about brand value, whether it’s Halloween, the World Cup or Market Street. We will have one creative and one conversation with the customer. That is a big change for us,” she says.