By Kimberly A. Whitler
The recipe for good marketing is a mixture of both art and science – combining the creative elements of branding with the technological impact and insights of digital analytics. As companies across a wide range of industries move from manufacturing to selling directly to consumers via stores, mobile, and e-commerce channels, the formula for success revolves around engaging consumers and understanding the individual preferences of shoppers.
The latest company to transform its business model is Swiss-based chocolatier Lindt & Sprüngli. Lindt, founded in 1845, has become one of the world’s most consumed confections through innovative candy-making techniques and superior chocolate recipes. Fast forward to today and Lindt is hitting its sweet spot transforming its business
model – from simply manufacturing chocolate to selling directly to consumers.
One of the interesting things about Lindt’s ongoing transformation is the role of cloud and analytics in driving the personalization and scale required by their new direct sales model. Before, consumers went to a retailer to purchase a set of pre-packaged assortments. Today, they can go directly to Lindt’s new online site to create unique assortments, mix and match their favorite products, and design custom packaging based on their individual tastes.
The results? The new storefront, implemented in a month by IBM and Business Partner CrossView, delivered a 200 percent increase in the site conversion rate – the percent of visitors that actually make a purchase when they visit a website – on Black Friday. In addition, Cyber Monday sales were more than double that of any other day of the year.
“The Lindt online shopping experience must be as delightful as the chocolate itself and live up to the high standards we’ve established for our brand,” said Lindt North America CEO Thomas Linemayr.
While technology was the underpinning that enabled a better customer experience, it was a re-examination of roles that enabled the identification and adoption of new technology. Linemayr started by looking at the organization to figure out how to incent, align and reward the top management team to better take advantage of cutting-edge technology.
One of the first steps he took was to align the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) and Chief Information Officer (CIO): “Creating a superior customer experience through better technology required a lock-step effort from both our CMO and CIO. As a prior Olympian, I know how much better the results are when people row in the same direction. Motivating our CMO and CIO to work together was the key. Together, they identified the consumer need, picked out the right technology, and worked together on the implementation to make sure that the technology supported a better customer experience.”
The alignment of the CMO and CIO, together with a focus on customer experience, rather than the bottom line is paying off.
“Regardless of the title or the function, Lindt’s CMO and CIO have developed complementary perspectives,” Linemayr said. “We have aligned our team to focus on creating an experience that builds customer loyalty, not just sales. The Lindt brand experience seeks to delight customers at every juncture—not only with the taste, texture and varieties of its chocolate, but with every step along the path to purchase. “
Featuring a portfolio of more than 600 SKUs, Lindt provided their customers with a department store, luxury experience online and mobile experience, resulting in their new website doubling conversion rates and tripling revenue on mobile devices. With the flexibility cloud solutions offer, Lindt is able to execute highly personalized seasonal promotions for the many chocolate-craving holidays like Valentine’s Day and Christmas and everything in between.
For Lindt and other companies that are transforming their business operations putting customers at the center of operations, the alignment between organizational roles ranging from the CMO and CIO is critical as consumers expect their favorite brands to understand their individual preferences and shopping habits anytime, anywhere.
As a previous CMO, Kim has worked both in the U.S. and overseas for a variety of companies, such as P&G, PetSmart, and David’s Bridal. After nearly 20 years in industry, she is currently a Forbes contributor and instructor at Indiana University obtaining a doctorate in marketing.