I was lucky enough to attend the Inside Retail Live conference during Retail Week in Melbourne this week, and there were some really inspiring retail marketing sessions. But for me, Radek Sali, the former chief executive of Swisse, stood out for his presentation about how applying the wellness message to his own corporate culture, as well as the Swisse brand, paid dividends.
Sali was candid about some of the hits and misses Swisse experienced while he was at the helm — striking out in the US but winning big in China.
But essentially his key points were about cut-through, the importance of corporate culture and productivity.
Radek talked about how some of Swisse’s most effective campaigns were some of its least traditional: for example, the decision to use Australian captain Ricky Ponting to advertise Swisse during cricket broadcasts.
While those ads were nominated as being among the most annoying, they stood out from traditional ways of targeting female grocery buyers with female spokespeople in traditional ‘women’s’ programming.
“Ricky Ponting in the cricket resonated with customers,” he said. “[The ads] were bad because we didn’t have a big budget, but they resonated.
“We won most annoying advert, but we got cut-through.”
Radek was at his most passionate on the topic of corporate culture.
Despite being told ‘You can’t meditate your way to results’, he looked for ways to make Swisse a place people loved to work, and felt great working at, using movement, nutrition and mindfulness to describe the cultural architecture the company developed. Initiatives included providing a yoga space, twice-daily meditation, a big corporate kitchen, DIY smoothie bowls, catered lunches, a barista, a personal trainer, and even cleaner air!
With a smaller staff than rival Blackmores and a need to boost productivity, increase staff tenure and retain corporate knowledge, Radek sought to provide a better working relationship through that alignment with the wellness message by practising what Swisse preaches.
“Has anybody ever been in a bad relationship? How badly does that affect your aspect on life and how you work?” he asked. “We have to lift people up to get results.”
“How many people have a cultural plan?” he asked the audience. “It should be as important as a business plan.”
With productivity high on the corporate agenda — and the agenda of retailers across the board — Radek spoke just as impressively about how Swisse developed a repeatable marketing playbook that it applied to its marketing activity, milking a formula it knew worked.
All marketing and communications activity was aligned with the company’s wellness values of being:
But Radek also outlined Swisse’s “repeatable, 360-degree marketing model”, which included a kick-off event and a series of amplifications covering all key marketing channels, along the following lines:
Playbooks are something we understand well at Simple — there are big productivity gains to be had for marketing teams that can establish repeatable playbooks, removing ineffective and unnecessary steps, processes and channels and enshrining best practice as part of your standard operating procedures.
Nowhere are the benefits of this more apparent than in the retail environment, where often growth is a battle of inches. But when your marketing cuts through it can really pay off if you’re able to repeat that formula and double-down on those successful messages.