Welcome to the end of digital marketing: A Q&A with Marie Gulin-Merle, Calvin Klein & PVH

BETHANY POOLE: Hi, everyone. Thanks for tuning in. I’m Bethany Poole,
Editor-in-Chief of “Think with Google.” And today I’m joined by Marie
Gulin-Merle, Chief Marketing Officer at Calvin Klein, and
Chief Digital Officer at PVH. Thank you for joining
us today, Marie. MARIE GULIN-MERLE:
Thank you, Bethany. I’m thrilled to be here. BETHANY POOLE: So
later today, you’re speaking on one of our
panels at Google Marketing Live about the end
of digital marketing and why it’s time to
shift our mindset. Do you believe
we’re now in an era where digital marketing
is just marketing? MARIE GULIN-MERLE: I do. BETHANY POOLE: I can’t wait
to dig a little bit more into that. But let’s start out by telling
the audience a little bit about your two roles at
Calvin Klein and PVH, and what you’re focused on. MARIE GULIN-MERLE: So at
Calvin, I’m the global CMO. So I’m in charge
of brand marketing, product marketing, also consumer
insights, data, retail store design, visual merchandising. I’m trying not to forget
anything in case my– BETHANY POOLE: And
this is your first job. MARIE GULIN-MERLE:
–my team is listening. COMS, CSR, and in
addition, I’ve been appointed to chief
digital officer for PVH. So I oversee the full digital
and data transformation for the company. BETHANY POOLE: Very exciting. Congratulations on both roles. MARIE GULIN-MERLE: Thank you. BETHANY POOLE: We’re
incredibly excited to have you here with us. You’re talking on this
panel about the end of digital marketing. Why is it so important
for the industry leaders to shift their mindset
around digital marketing? MARIE GULIN-MERLE:
Because I think it’s misleading, or
very duplicative, to talk about
traditional marketing and digital marketing. If you think about it, consumers
really don’t act that way. So you research online. You buy offline. You have your mobile with
you throughout the journey. So the consumption of
videos, the search behavior, all of this is present
throughout the journey. I also think it creates
silos within companies, instead of infusing
tech and digital and data at the core
of everything we do. BETHANY POOLE: So you
pull everything together. Let’s see, I have actually
a question already from the audience,
if you don’t mind. Adamola asks, as you talk
about this new mindset shift, who should be championing
it– the CEO or the marketer? MARIE GULIN-MERLE: That’s a
great question from Adamola. I think both CEOs and
CMOs should champion it. And then I’m going
to add some nuances. I think the CEO should signal
the entire organization that the world has changed. So it comes from the top, and
there is this new behavior already infused from the top. Then CEOs are driving the
part that is consumer related. But they have to
partner with CFOs, for instance, on new
norms, new financial norms, on how you measure
performance in today’s world. The CMOs have to partner
with CHROs, the heads of HR, on identifying talent gaps,
for instance, upskilling, reskilling of the teams. And obviously, as I
always say, the CIO is the best friend– the
new best friend– of any CO. BETHANY POOLE: It’s really a
full company transformation. It’s not just one
vertical or one function. You were talking a little bit
before about the need for this, because consumer the consumer
journey has changed so much. Consumers are getting more
and more of their information online. And we’ve been talking
about this a lot on “Think with Google,” about
how this change has happened. I mean, you’re sitting there
right in the forefront. How have you seen the
consumer journey change? And how has that impacted
how you go to market? MARIE GULIN-MERLE: So I’ve
seen three traction points. And I think there is
one stat that everybody should keep in mind. So the three traction
points that I’ve seen over the past five
years, I would say, and it has stayed
very consistent. That’s kind of good news
with all the changes that we’re going through. One, the discovery phase,
the research phase, or what marketing
nerds called ROPO– research online,
purchase offline. This has become probably,
in some instances, up to 50% of the consumer
behavior pre-purchase. And then the second
interaction point that I’ve seen, that is very
new and not going anywhere, is the peer-to-peer
advocacy driver. The fact that you’re going to
trust brands much better when it comes from other consumers,
or influencers, or advocates. And then the third
thing is that consumers want to buy everywhere and
anywhere, wherever, whenever. And overall, I think
this stat that I keep reminding the C-suite and
my team, is that 50% of sales are now digitally influenced. And this is across the board. This is across industries. BETHANY POOLE: That is a
massive change, though. In the world that
everything is changing, having it be stable
for the last five years is a wonderful thing. How should marketers be
approaching this changing consumer behavior? For example, one of
our audience members, Hillary, wants to
know how you keep customers engaged once they’ve
started the online journey onto your website. MARIE GULIN-MERLE: So Hilary,
we’re doing four things. We’re doing for use cases. And again, this is a piece of
stability in a world of change. The first one is
that we acquire. We keep acquiring. So we focus a lot of efforts
on acquiring new consumers. Then we focus on the second
purchase, that you buy once. And you’re getting the
consumer to buy a second time. And the third use case
that we’re focusing on is cross selling
or deep selling. So you go deeper into loyalty. And then the fourth use
case is about preventing churn, and retention. So the job is really to marry
and combine the four use cases all the time. In order to do
that, you need tech. And you also need what I
call, another acronym– I’m sorry for the audience. BETHANY POOLE: No. I like the acronyms. MARIE GULIN-MERLE: You also
need DCO, digital content optimization. So this constant optimization,
differentiation, of content, so you know what works best. BETHANY POOLE: We
talked a little bit about this yesterday, the
digital content optimization. So are you constantly
creating new content? How are you thinking about that? MARIE GULIN-MERLE: I think
it’s two types of flows. One is the hero content. And we can talk more about that. It’s not going anywhere. It’s still how consumers connect
to the bigger brand values. And then you have this
always on flow of content. I call it high volume,
high velocity of content. High volume, high
velocity, and high degree of personalization
and differentiation. BETHANY POOLE: So that
actually is a perfect segue way into my next
question, which is, with so many consumer
touch points, you have this wealth
of information that can be used for
ads’ personalization. Can you talk about
the importance of being relevant
in today’s marketing climate with so much competition
for people’s attention, and how you use personalization
to be relevant in the moment? MARIE GULIN-MERLE: So this is
actually a gap in measurement. I believe we measure either
brand lift or sales lift. We rarely measure what I
call the return on relevance. And it’s a combination of
engagements, past behaviors, obviously, conversion. But we have to be able
to measure if we actually provided the right
content at the right time to the right consumer. So I call it our
return on relevance. BETHANY POOLE: So that’s
a metric that you use. MARIE GULIN-MERLE: It’s
a combination of metric, and this is the
sort of North Star that I always keep in
mind in everything we do. BETHANY POOLE: It’s fascinating. On that note, we have another
question from the audience. Mike asks, there’s a lot of
talk about machine learning and big data. But how can marketers
actually use these tools in their day-to-day? MARIE GULIN-MERLE: So marketers
remain very much human, flesh and blood, with a
lot of intuition. I think tech helps
on I would say, level 1, automation,
repetition of what works. Level 2, identification
of patterns of what works, what doesn’t work. And then you need human beings
to make sense of the data. Great marketers will be
the one who really know how to embrace tech the best. And it’s not an either/or. Again it’s an
“and” relationship. I will also say that creative
teams cannot be afraid of tech, and that intuition– I call it intuition– is
augmented by data and insights and technology. BETHANY POOLE:
Augmented intuition. Well it is true that the machine
learning can pull up the data. But the actual interpretation
and figuring out what are true insights that
are based on human behavior is only something
that a human can do. MARIE GULIN-MERLE: And
what ideas are going to be. BETHANY POOLE: Exactly. MARIE GULIN-MERLE: Because
at the end of the day, marketing is about ideas. BETHANY POOLE: While
we’re on the topic of ads personalization, we
know that data privacy is at the top of mind
for a lot of people. Google is committed to ensuring
that our users understand our commitment to
responsible data use. We talked a little bit
about this last week at IO. What are your thoughts
on user trust? MARIE GULIN-MERLE: I
think companies and brands need to comment. On the Calvin side, there
are three strong commitments we want to make
to our consumers. One is transparency. We want to be transparent
on how we use data. The second one is security. We want to apply the
highest standards when it comes to keep eating data safe. And the third piece, because
if things don’t happen the way it should, brands and companies
need to be highly accountable. So the third principle
is to be accountable. BETHANY POOLE: That’s wonderful. We have so many questions
coming in from the audience. Thank you, everyone. I’m going to go with the
first one, from Lara. Do you have a marketing
trick or life hack that you’re
particularly proud of? MARIE GULIN-MERLE: I think
my first mentor at work, something like 20 years ago– yes I started to work
in the 20th century. So my mentor taught me
a mantra that I always keep in mind every day. Come to work like it’s
your first day at work. So don’t ever get comfortable. Don’t ever think that
you know everything. The more you grow,
the more you have to listen to new
generations, and the more you have to really practice
the muscles of curiosity and humility. So every day is my first day. And I’m happy to start my
first day with you Bethany. BETHANY POOLE: That’s wonderful. MARIE GULIN-MERLE:
And the audience hear. BETHANY POOLE: That Carol
Dweck growth mindset, you’ve embraced it from
the very beginning. For people who are
just tuning in, we are here with
Marie Gulin-Merle, who’s the CMO of Calvin Klein
and the chief digital officer of PVH. And we’re answering a
few of your questions, because we’ve gotten
through most of mine. We have another
question from Brian. Consumers seem to
be less brand loyal. Digital native brands seem
to focus on their products rather than selling their brand. Has Calvin Klein shifted their
focus from brand to products as well? MARIE GULIN-MERLE: It’s
another yes/and answer. So another mantra
that I learned when I started my career
in marketing is that consumers
connect to a brand, but at the end of the
day, they buy a product. So you actually need
to do both jobs. If you go to YouTube,
for instance, today on the Calvin
Klein channel, you’re going to see
the latest campaign. It’s a lot of
emotional engagement, but also a lot of product
focus on what’s new, and why it’s new,
and why it matters. BETHANY POOLE: And YouTube’s
such a great channel for creating both of
those connections. We have a question from Ahmed. Do you think clothing
brands are adapting to the changes of digital
marketing innovations that we see every day? MARIE GULIN-MERLE: I
think, like every brand, I don’t think there is
any industry exception. I think every industry is
going through massive change. And it’s not an
industry point of view. At the end of the day, it’s
a consumer point of view. So if consumers change,
brands have to adapt. So we’re no different. I would say, I think
that the way people choose, the way people are
going to prefer a brand, the way you create brand love,
the way you develop brand building, has changed
dramatically over the past 5, 10 years. So there is no exception. BETHANY POOLE: I think it’s one
of the most interesting things about being a
marketer, is that you have to adapt to the
changing consumer behavior. And you talked a little bit
about the consumer journey. And since it’s always
changing, and it’s changing much more quickly,
you have to be on your toes. And it kind of feeds
that constant curiosity. MARIE GULIN-MERLE: And
it keeps it exciting. BETHANY POOLE: Interesting. You’re constantly learning. We have a question from Leo. Have there been any campaigns
from other brands competitors that you have admired recently? MARIE GULIN-MERLE: Oh yes. So many. First of all, I’m
always looking, not only at new campaigns– what’s happening with
the other brands– but also what
consumers are doing. I do a lot of UGC research. So I’m always impressed
by what consumers are saying about brands
and what brands do. If I had two quotes one, I
think the “Crazy” campaign with Serena Williams during the
Super Bowl night was fantastic. BETHANY POOLE: That’s
a great ad campaign. Question from Prithee. How do you see
qualitative techniques such as storytelling and design
thinking effecting marketing in the next two years? MARIE GULIN-MERLE: I
think it’s already there. The pace for developing a
story is no longer the same, I would say. Legacy brands used to
take probably a few months to develop a few images. And we now have to come up
with stories and narratives on a daily basis. So the lead time has
forced design thinking and this test-and-learn
mentality to come to the
marketing workplace. So we have to, obviously, know
what the brand stands for, what the values are. But then be able to create
and optimize content every day on the fly. BETHANY POOLE: You
really have to– you’re just telling more stories. You’re not telling
less wonderful stories. You’re just having to tell
them on a constant basis. And so you really have to
know where your brand taps in and how you bring it to life. MARIE GULIN-MERLE:
Based on the same DNA, with more volume
and more stories. BETHANY POOLE: Much
more challenging. MARIE GULIN-MERLE: And fun. BETHANY POOLE: We have
a question from Kylie. In order to achieve the
digital maturity you are after, what types of partners
do you need to work with? And how many are too many? MARIE GULIN-MERLE:
I keep talking about an ecosystem of partners. So it used to be the
client and an agency. And today, it’s an
ecosystem of partners. Should they be creators? Should they be the
Googles of this world? The big tech partners we have? I would say, the agency’s
creative minds obviously, but also internally– and I was talking about IT– I have a brand tech
person on my team who is the conduit between
IT and the marketing team. And I think that’s fundamental. So it’s a internal
ecosystem, combined with an external
ecosystem of partners. BETHANY POOLE: I
think that’s one of the most interesting
things about what you’ve done internally,
is just how you’ve brought all your teams together
into one team with all sorts of different specialties
and experience that are all working
together on common metrics and common goals. We have– last question. Oh, actually we have two more. Sorry. Question from Michael. How do customer data
platforms play in? MARIE GULIN-MERLE:
The famous CDPs. I think CDPs are going to
be central to what we do, not because it’s
the new buzz word, but because we have
so many data points that you need what I
call the center of truth. So you need that central
place to look at your consumer from a 360 degree standpoint. So yes, it’s going
to play a big role. BETHANY POOLE:
And we go back to, the consumer journey
keeps changing. Or not keeps changing,
but consumer behavior keeps evolving. So it becomes even
more important that you’re getting real
time information there. OK, so we have our last
question from Mario. You’ve moved impressively fast
in transforming your marketing organization. What guidance would you
offer brands and partners to help enable
agility and speed when managing change, technology,
and marketing decisions? And I can’t think of a
better question to end on. MARIE GULIN-MERLE: Thank you. I don’t think I
move fast enough. My team would hate
me saying that. I would say two things. I keep using that
quote with my team– if you ever want to go
somewhere, start walking. So most of the time
what I do is that I keep designing with the
moonshot is going to look like. And at the same time,
I do three months. I design the 3-month wins,
and the 6-months achievements, and the 12-month achievements. So there needs to be a
little bit of both what the Promised Land
is going to be like, and what tomorrow
is going to be like. And this is what exponential
organizations are doing, I think. BETHANY POOLE: Both setting
the vision for the short term and the long term. MARIE GULIN-MERLE: And
doing it at the same time. Another good metaphor is– I use it with my team a
lot– is, you’re on a plane, building the plane,
while it’s up in the air. I find it exciting. And I’m here to make sure
that my team is not too dizzy or overwhelmed by
this plane feeling. BETHANY POOLE: Putting
it all together as you are soaring
over the world. That’s wonderful. Well Marie, thank you so much. It’s been great talking to you. And I know you
have great insights that you’ll be sharing at Google
Marketing Live later today. Thanks to everyone
for tuning in. Please follow us on
“Think with Google” on LinkedIn,
Facebook, and Twitter. And thanks for tuning in. We’ll see you next time.

13 thoughts on “Welcome to the end of digital marketing: A Q&A with Marie Gulin-Merle, Calvin Klein & PVH

  1. Digital Marketing is interaction with your brand, but what really care your customer is the same rule from old times in traditional Marketing "outstanding customer service" you can actually beat online and well known retailers by providing remarkable and unique operation with "ERROR PREVENTION" your product or service will automatically start to sell more the moment you decide to go the extra mile, I do that every day and it works beautifully. Kind Regards from the Sunny State, best Martha

  2. Hi I am Ghulam Rasool Chandio. Can you please guide me to digitalize Goat Farming, I have Goat Farm

  3. Marie Gulin-Merle offers valuable insights in this interview. I hope the c-suite is really listening. I do wish I could coach Bethany Poole on her interviewing skills. I think she is capable of being a much stronger interviewer but unfortunately, this video showcases a lack of preparation, skills and confidence with this format.

  4. Beside insights on digital marketing this video is not exploring enough what MGM is declaring. The title of the article/video reminds me of what tabloids are doing to capture audiences. We all know marketing is just becoming digital which means new tools are added to the marketer's toolbox.

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