home Executive Profiles Making THE ICONIC more iconic – Interview with Joanna Robinson, CMO

Making THE ICONIC more iconic – Interview with Joanna Robinson, CMO

Marketing success in 2024 is evolving rapidly, shaped by constant technological advancements and shifting consumer behaviour. While specific tactics may change, some core elements will define marketing success in the coming year. Mark Atterby, the editor of CXFocus talks to Joanna Robinson, CMO for THE ICONIC, about her role and what marketing success looks like for her in 2024.

Mark Atterby (MA): Joanna, can you please provide a background to your career and an explanation of your role at The Iconic?

Joanna Robinson (JR): I started my career 28 years ago after finishing university, working in sales, when I was hired as a rep with Proctor and Gamble. After a while, I moved to Sydney and worked for them in account management. I then worked for various FMCGs. I spent six years in the Middle East, based in Dubai, with Unilever looking after North Africa, Middle East and Turkey. 10 Years ago I came back to Australia, working for Estee Lauder and most recently as CMO for Chatime, before joining The Iconic as the interim CMO in April last year.  About two months ago the position became permanent. And I’m loving it.

I have quite a broad range of responsibilities at THE ICONIC, where I lead a range of teams that look after all aspects of creative, production, marketing and customer service.

MA: What does marketing success look like for you in 2024?

JR: I am a brand builder at heart. And one of the things that I’ve loved about my career is the emotional aspect of getting people to fall in love with a brand. Over the last few years, there’s been a real shift in marketing in that it has become very data-driven and the impact of marketing is far more measurable. 

I think that is fantastic. Data is power. However, a lot of brands have realised that focusing purely only on conversion, or the bottom of the marketing funnel, and forgetting about brand building, is a very short-term strategy. In the long term, just focusing on conversions can hurt the brand. 

We’ve seen the likes of Amazon, eBay, and Airbnb put more of their investment back at the top of the funnel and build their brands.THE ICONIC is following suit. We have this beautiful brand that’s been around now for 12 years. We have highly engaged and highly loyal customers. Our strategy is how do we make sure that The Iconic is perceived as iconic? And how do we make it top-of-mind and disruptive within the marketplace? 

Success for me is always with the customer. It’s about how we engage our customers? How relevant are the stories we’re telling them? It’s about looking at that whole marketing mix and saying how is it all working together for the benefit of the customer.

MA: What do you see as your biggest challenges?

JR: One of our biggest challenges is how we utilise our customer data. We have 20 million visits per month on average. We know our customers love our app – last year alone we had 700k new app downloads and around 2 million app users – and we’re close to reaching 2 million followers across our different social media channelsThe challenge is how we use that data to provide our customers with a highly personalised brand experience.

Every time a customer shares their details with you, you have a responsibility in terms of how you use that data. It’s not just about selling to them, it’s about the customer’s experience with the brand. So how do we personalise each customer’s journey? How do we make every interaction we have with a customer relevant and ensure it means something to them? 

Another challenge for THE ICONIC has been about how we have evolved from being initially a startup. We came out of the gate with guns blazing years ago, we had the tailwinds of COVID, when there was a restricted physical retail environment for people to shop. However, over the years, we wired our audience to look for discounts. In doing so, I think we depreciated the brand equity quite substantially. We’ve got some work to do in terms of building and communicating what we stand for and what we are about.

MA: What tactics do you use to differentiate THE ICONIC’s’s brand and messaging?

JR: We’re always looking for that balance between the short-term campaign results and the long-term brand equity building. We’re constantly looking at our media mix. We have a trade focus where, every week, we look at what we have planned for next week, how we’re going versus the budget and how we’re going versus the marketplace. 

This short-term view is balanced with quarterly check-ins to see how we are going versus our strategic imperatives; how rebuilding our brand equity is going and how we’re perceived in the marketplace.

MA: What marketing trends and developments are you most excited about in 2024, and how will The Iconic leverage them? 

JR: I think one of the exciting trends, as I said at the beginning, is this refocus on brand. It’s been amazing to see some of the bigger brands start to lean into it. Greater personalisation,  based on really understanding customers, will also be a critical trend 2024.  Of course, AI is the big hairy beast everybody is talking about at the moment. AI is fueling the trend of hyper-personalised experiences. At THE ICONIC there’s a range of opportunities that we are exploring in terms of how we can start to utilise AI and machine learning to take things to the next level.

MA: Are you able to walk me through a recent marketing campaign and highlight the data-driven insights that informed its success? 

JR: In keeping with our objective of making THE ICONIC more iconic, In October we did a campaign called “The Shop That Stopped The Nation”. It was a disruptive campaign that celebrated THE ICONIC’s 12th birthday in October.  The campaign was built around a critical insight about our customers – there was a higher purchase conversion rate from shoppers who had placed items in their wishlist than those who hadn’t. The customers who wishlisted are more engaged than those who don’t. So, in the week leading up to the 12th birthday, shoppers could enter into a competition to win items in their wishlist. As a result, we saw 3.7 million new items wishlisted, 30,000 app downloads and 27,000 new users who wishlisted. It was more about changing behaviour and less about driving sales, getting people to wishlist and to educate them in regards to the wishlisting process. If we can get more people wishlisting, we get more people converting.  

Okay. Final question. So what’s the plan for this future?

MA: Finally, what is the long-term strategy for the brand and its place within the market?

JR: We have a mantra that says, we’re going to make THE ICONIC, iconic again. Our mission is to be the number-one choice for fashion and lifestyle within the Australian and New Zealand market. We want to be the first place that people think of when they want to go shopping.

To achieve our mission, we’re adopting what we call a fewer, bigger, better approach. We want to stay focused on what are the strategic imperatives and not get distracted and start running after shiny new balls. It’s about nailing those strategic imperatives and making sure our brand stands for something.

Joanna will be presenting at this years CMO Summit being held in the Gold Coast, 20-21 February, 2024

Mark Atterby

Mark Atterby has 18 years media, publishing and content marketing experience.