Foot Locker’s Jed Berger: ‘The marketing industry is in for an evolution’
In the past few years, Foot Locker has been making headlines for its aggressive push to modernize, and according to the company’s CMO, Jed Berger, that innovation has pushed their marketing department to start thinking about their customers in a new way.
“Marketing today is harder than it ever has been, because no one wants to be seen as just some linear human,” said Berger. “That just doesn’t exist, and if we came from a perspective where we thought that, we would fail. Recognizing today that a person wants to be known as versatile and dimensional is the first thing that we have to start with.”
From investing in a handful of consumer startups, to rethinking their retail spaces, to launching their own incubator, the company has been working towards what it will be the next evolution of the retail industry. For Berger, this forward-thinking push means that how the company is marketing itself has to evolve as well.
Now, Berger is getting involved in the products from the design stage to ensure that the consumer draw is built-in, and sees himself as more of a business partner, than a marketer.
On this week’s episode of Making Marketing, Shareen Pathak sits down with Berger to discuss the changing role of marketing at Foot Locker, why the company chose to incubate and invest in new brands and the shift of the overall marketing industry. Edited highlights below.
Marketing from design to store shelf
“We sell a product that people are extremely passionate about. People love sneakers, and the more that the product we sell is related to something that’s meaningful in somebody’s life, the better they sell. You don’t always have to be so serious. Our “Game of Thrones” Adidas collection was awesome, and it may be serious to some people, but in the grand scheme of things, not so serious. What Pharrell has done with Human Race is amazing, and a little more serious. Then you have people talking about Yeezys and that resonates because of his creative freedom and self-expression. I think part of what we’ve been great at in the last few years, is that we’ve evolved. We’ve tried to take all of these things that are of interest to a consumer group and get them into the design of the product well ahead of time, instead of having the marketing story at the end be inspired by something, which we’ve continually seen doesn’t work. That’s a big evolution in our industry.”
Developing for the future
“A lot of our investing conversations were happening around the same time as our incubator program, Greenhouse, because we were really talking about how we develop for the future, and all of the things that we needed to do. We also built a focus team that was looking at where the industry was going, different types of talent and different business models that were leading by personality or purpose. It could be part of our ecosystem that could add to it, maybe in the short term, but we could really work together to offer each other something that could develop into something significant in the long term.”
The evolution of the marketing function
“It’s an evolving career. As someone in a high-level position in the field, it’s something that keeps me up at night. There are plenty of articles being written about how brands are replacing CMOs with chief brand officers, or chief growth officers, and often times those are the same people. I talk to young people all the time who have brand marketing written on their resumes, and I tell them not to do that. Nobody wants a brand marketer. You want to be a product marketer? Great. Very rarely are CMOs becoming CEOs or presidents, or sitting on public boards. Personally, I look at myself much more as a business partner than as a marketer. So I think that it’s an interesting time, and in many companies, there needs to be a redefinition of the role of the CMO, or marketing within the organization, or how it reports, or what its accountabilities are. The marketing industry is in for an evolution.”
Member Exclusive‘Cyber Monday has become Cyber November’: How the digital shopping day’s evolution is affecting marketers
Even if it’s a logical move to stretch out discounts typically reserved for Cyber Monday, it can create a more difficult environment for marketers.
How Roblox is paving the way for a new era of branded gaming
Roblox is still in its infancy as a marketing tool. But over the last two years, the number of brands and retailers on Roblox has grown dramatically.
‘Email has become so cluttered’: Why DTC brands plan to use texting for Black Friday and Cyber Monday this year
With Black Friday and Cyber Monday nearing, text messaging is becoming a more common marketing channel for direct-to-consumer brands.
SponsoredWhy ad buyers (and sellers) need to pay more attention to viewer attention
By Yan Liu, CEO, TVision Like the proverbial tree falling in the forest, we all recognize that oftentimes the TV is on, but no one is in the room to hear or see it. And yet some ad buyers continue to rely on a metric that fails to account for this. To mix metaphors, buyers […]
‘There’s more opportunity’: Publishers on TikTok are taking branded content into their own hands
As their audiences on the social app have grown, a flurry of publishers have turned to developing branded content campaigns to explore new commercial opportunities.
Member Exclusive‘A more hopeful future’: As the coronavirus surges, advertisers aren’t pressing pause
Spending has remained consistent, according to media buyers, who say that advertisers are more prepared this time around.