Jessica Koch

New Business & Retail media

Pearl Lieberman

VP Marketing

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Hi, I’m Jessica and I am the Director of New Business and Retail Media at Douglas. I joined Douglas almost three years ago. I took over the retail media business last year in May when it was six months old. So basically we have now been on the market for two years, since exactly October 14th, 2019.
I have worked in the beauty industry for 11 years for L’Oreal Luxe in Paris and in Germany, in classic marketing functions doing trade marketing, product marketing, digital marketing but also as brand director and in sales positions where I was responsible for pushing e-retail and e-commerce.

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It's a completely different way of doing marketing than what has been done for the past decades and that's something that the organization needs to be really aware of, and prepared for.

So you're definitely one of the pioneers in retail media.

In Germany let’s say there are a few already that we all know such as Otto, or Media Market Saturn. But I would say in the beauty category, we are the first ones to set up a real professional retail media business. It also depends on how big you are, as a platform, and you need a certain “t-shirt size” in order to even think about doing retail media, otherwise, it doesn’t make much sense. But there is no playbook for retail media, neither in Douglas nor anywhere else. Probably in the US, where they are far more advanced in the grocery industry. But in Europe, it’s still a lot of tests & learning.

We get support from the tech side, from Criteo, but even for them, it’s a new business. So I think this triangle, between tech, retailers, and brands still needs to find a way to navigate through retail media.

Brand collaboration between retailers and brands is key to success. Do you have any best practices to share ?

I would advise everyone to take a bit of time to prepare thoroughly. If I were to do it again, I would probably take at least six, if not twelve months to really think everything through and do A/B tests, what’s the go-to-market, what’s the communication with the brands, test the whole tech stack, make the buy or build or both decisions.

And build a team, because finding people in the industry who did retail media is difficult. So you need digital media consultants or media strategists, and those profiles are not easy to recruit from a retail perspective.
It is also crucial to have the full buy-in from the executive committee that they really want to go forward with the retail media initiative, because it brings a lot of transformation. It’s a completely different way of doing marketing than what has been done for the past decades and that’s something that the organization needs to be really aware of, and prepared for.

What are the KPIs or metrics for success that you can recommend? How can we measure the impact of the initiatives and align with management?

There is the classic set of KPIs that we benchmark ourselves: obviously, we look at the PnL top line and bottom line, and then interesting other KPIs are: how much sales do you do for FTE and how quickly do you want to ramp it up? You usually have a smaller amount per FTE and you’re going to want to ramp it up quickly. And then for me, I also look at our penetration in the market. When we talk to the brands we also look at how much percentage of classic brands we have, new brands, marketplace, and also non-endemic partners

How would you say COVID influenced the retail media ecosystem?

The change was massive. Even though we weren’t even six months old when COVID started, as we launched in October 2019, and COVID bumped in March, and then really massively in April, but it would say that it accelerated retail media massively.

It’s not that the brands were asking: “can we do retail media?” Because the brands didn’t even know what retail media is. But for the brands that started with some of the first tests in October, they ramped it up quickly, and the other brands heard of it and started investing as well.

There was some sort of panic in the industry to do something that could accelerate the only channel that was left. And that was e-commerce or their own e-shop. Brands, especially in Beauty, also invested in their own e-shop and they also grew tremendously, but obviously, e-shops are still small in Beauty. If they reach 5-10% of sales on their own, that’s already a lot, but that 5-10% won’t be able to compensate for the losses in bricks and mortar during the pandemic.

Can you share with us more Douglas partnerships and the media interactions?

So Coty is one of our big partners in retail media, in the sense that they are understanding the value of retail media. And that education and understanding usually takes a long time. We normally would start with the digital media manager, not necessarily the general manager. And then we go up and talk to the brand communications or media director and ultimately with the agency. Once this triangle works usually the agency takes over and they understand retail media as an always-on part of their digital media spends and integrate it in their annual strategies.

So once this is done it gets easy, but the start is about a lot of education tasks and talking to a lot of classic marketing directors. Some of the brands don’t have an e-commerce acceleration manager or digital media manager.
And, the first thought is often: “Okay guys, let’s just do it. Let’s start with a test and learn campaign”. We really like to start very small and have an MVP approach when it comes to onboarding. And then usually it does work and the ramp up comes automatically.

You touched upon the complexity of the triangle between ad services or ad companies and retailers own media assets. Can you maybe elaborate ?

This is more early stages. So for Douglas, we monetize our own inventory with the help of a tech partner, in this case it’s Criteo for onsite media. And if we talk about off-site media, we work with Facebook, Google, Instagram and youtube, and use our 1st party data for the audience building.

When it comes to other alliances or products, we haven’t set up anything yet because we focus on onsite. t we have many ideas and we speak with ad tech companies, or bigger networks of publishers to think about extending the ecosystem in a smart way.

we focus on the core business for now.

How do you address the omni-channel shopper today?

For now we’re very much digital focused, so we don’t have any solutions in the stores. That’s definitely one of the scenarios for the future, but we want a solution with a clear go-to market because saying: there’s just a screen, and then pretending it’s retail media. For me that’s not a good story. So either it is connected to our DMP and we can really target in real-time the audience, being in the streets and talking to them and pushing them to the right call to action at the right time. But for now we don’t have that.

What we do is that in our data management platform, we have the e-commerce data, all behavior and transactional data, the CRM data and the CRM data also have some information on where the shopper is going, and in which stores they buy. So we could potentially use offsite paid social ads or display ads, to target only the customers who are at a certain distance around the store. So this is possible, but usually the audience is very small so we focus on the bigger setups where we have a bigger.

Who are the teams that you work with?

We work with the category team, who hand over brands to us which are interested in testing retail media. I have a brand activation and brand consulting team who is doing all the campaigns and media strategies And of course we reach out to other teams such as the social commerce or the content team if we need to enrich a campaign.

Do you remember your first campaign?

Oh my God. Yeah, we did hundreds of campaigns.

One very interesting case is the Italian beauty brands campaign. The Italian chamber of commerce reached out to us and wanted to push Italian beauty brands in the german e-commerce. We set up a 360° campaign with a full funnel approach: from onsite media such as audience ads and sponsored product ads, social and display ads and a content hub where different topics around Italian beauty could be displayed. It was a huge success for the client as they reached a return on investment of 3! A beautiful example which shows that retail media really achieves brand activation and direct impact on sales.

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