Magazine article Marketing

My Month: Stephen Smith

Magazine article Marketing

My Month: Stephen Smith

Article excerpt

Chief customer officer at Asda, on how a month of travelling, from the US to Grantham, gave him time to think afresh.

Writing this, I feel a little like I'm in a marketing version of A Christmas Carol, playing Christmas Yet to Come. By the time you see this piece, it will be 2015 and Christmas will be a distant memory. But, as I write, it's still December, I have just enjoyed Thanksgiving in the US, at home with my family, and Christmas is still all to play for.

My trip home wasn't all play and no work. One of the great things about being part of the 'Walmart family' is the people you get to bounce ideas off, and while I was in the US I took the opportunity to share Q1 plans with my counterpart there - which I love to do, largely because I think my team has nailed it.

From my team's point of view, Christmas is all wrapped up (unlike any of my gifts) and we are already in the midst of planning for spring/summer 2015. But there is still an unmistakable buzz created by the festive season. It's been great to get back in the office and catch up with people. My desk is in the middle of the marketing floor and I love being 'desk-bombed' by colleagues who want to chat, get my advice or views on something (my PA is going to kill me for saying that). Seeing people grow and develop in their roles is really rewarding and gives me a chance to think about the world and our business differently as well.

This month has taken me to our Coventry and Grantham stores to see what we've cooked up for our customers there as new thinking. The stores look fantastic and I'm so proud of what the proposition team have delivered in partnership with their trading, ops and marketing colleagues.

I'm also thinking a lot about our digital offer at the moment, and how we continue to engage with our customers online to give them the 'personality' that they get in our store. If I could tap into whatever magic keeps my daughters permanently attached to their iPhones, my career would be made.

Asda's mission is centred on saving families money every day, and at the heart of everything we do is the 'Asda mum'. Christmas is the high point of her year and it's a time when more than ever, what we do really matters. For me it's absolutely vital that our marketing has integrity and stays focused on doing what's right for our brand - no matter what tactics our competitors throw at the market. …

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