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Inspirational marketing is a competitive advantage: Rasmus Skjøtt

Jun 29, 2021

Summary

In this interview Rasmus Skjøtt, Chief Digital Officer of Danish retailer Søstrene Grene explains why inspiration is so important to their brand.

Learn about their successful digital transformation. Including their approach to ecommerce, social media and change from monthly to weekly campaigns.

Rasmus Skjøtt leads the omnichannel marketing efforts at Søstrene Grene. The Danish retailer specializes in inspiring coziness and creativity. Their shops with a unique range of homewares, crafts and scented candles can be found in 14 countries across Europe. Over the last year Søstrene Grene has radically transformed its digital business, launching webshops in six markets across Europe. 

In this interview Rasmus provides insights into the digital transformation process at Søstrene Grene. And how they’ve worked to recreate the inspirational instore shopping experience across their online business. 

The importance of inspiration for Søstrene Grene

In The Behavior of Online Shoppers Survey 2021, a majority of the 6,000 European shoppers (67%) said they want to be inspired when shopping online. But only 29% of shoppers say webshops are inspiring. Rasmus explains that because shoppers are looking for inspiration, Søstrene Grene can stand out from their competitors by being inspiring. They strive to take a more holistic overview of the entire shopper experience, and not just focus on selling products. 

What we see in the competitive picture at the moment is a lot of focus on convenience and price. But for us, they’re hygiene factors. Obviously you need to be aware of these things but a way to differ from your competitors is to actually be inspirational. Our new strategy is called ‘Experiences like no other’ where we aim to take more ownership of the whole customer journey and look at where we can inspire people, not just in the buying process but also before and after buying our products.”

According to Rasmus, when Søstrene Green creates engaging DIY (Do-it-yourself) content, not only does it create a lot of engagement on social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram, but it also creates a lot of hype afterwards. And if the content piece is inspirational, they actually see a spillover effect on that product. So it’s not just for fun, the inspirational content directly impacts the commercial side of the business.

We believe that if we can support the entire customer experience we will build more trust and brand loyalty than if we only communicate on price. My best guess is that when we look at our content production around 85 to 90% of our total content produced is inspirational, or with a focus on creating inspiration, and I would guess that the other 10 to 15% is much more about focusing on the product. ”

A successful digital transformation

Søstrene Grene only launched their online stores at the end of Q1 2020 due to the high demand from shoppers. The reason they were reluctant to enter the ecommerce space was concerns about replicating the unique instore shopping experiences online. 

The concerns of Søstrene Grene are well founded, as 57% of shoppers state that a lack of inspiration is a barrier against using webshops.

We’ve had some concern if we could copy and remake the sensory experience that we know from the physical stores, and could that work in a digital environment. Obviously it's difficult for us to create the same sensory experience that we know from the physical stores online. You can’t do the exact same things because there's some boundaries of what’s physically possible. But what we have done is talk to our customers about what they remember Søstrene Grene for. And we have tried to move some of those content pieces online.”

Despite the concerns about ecommerce and their late entry to the market, Søstrene Grene has exceeded all expectations. Rasmus says that during the first 12 months of online operations there was a significant uplift in the offline footfall. And when they launched an ecommerce campaign focused on the range of furniture products, there was a significant uplift in offline turnover.

For these products the markets with ecommerce actually performed up to 12% better than where we don’t have an online presence. So we will most definitely invest much more in the digital transformation, and also much more than we have done in the past. In the past 12 months we’ve not only built a new revenue stream for us, but we also built an entirely new inspirational channel for us to be much more inspirational for our customers.”

The pros and cons of social media

For younger shoppers aged 18-34, social media channels are far more inspirational than webshops. Despite only recently launching their online stores, Søstrene Grene has been working hard over many years to build up communities on social media channels, especially Facebook and Instagram. And these channels have been a huge part of our Søstrene Grene’s marketing success among younger generations.

Facebook has historically been our most important platform with around 2.3 million followers,” says Rasmus. Instagram has increased a lot in the past couple of years, reaching around 1.6 million across all our international markets.” 

But one of the main challenges for Søstrene Grene of being so reliant on Facebook and Instagram is putting all their eggs in one basket, and having no control of first party data. 

“One of the most crucial things for success in the coming years is taking control of first party data and engaging it across different platforms, not only in silos, for Google, Facebook and Instagram. And it's important for us because we want to build communities on social media channels around these inspirational content pieces that we produce. We don’t necessarily want to be in the center of the interaction but by making a platform available for creative thinking, between our shoppers we want them to interact and engage with each other.”

A digital first campaign strategy 

Søstrene Grene has radically transformed its approach to marketing campaigns to become more relevant. Previously they had 12 monthly main campaigns throughout the year. These had a lot of product photos, catalogs, marketing and media focus. But the impact of each campaign was limited and they needed to rethink their strategy.  

18 months  ago Søstrene Grene changed their focus to have a new campaign every single week. With a different focus on new products in a certain category and making new inspirational elements for that category. 

We realised that people don't live their lives in campaigns, people live their life from day to day, so we wanted to be much more relevant and much more inspirational not from month to month but from a day to day basis,” says Rasmus. 

The smaller and more frequent campaigns from week to week have impacted the business extremely well I would say. Our online performance is very reliant on our drops or weekly drops, as we call them, or weekly campaigns. So the new way of thinking about marketing and thinking about our product catalog, and new campaigns week by week have had a lot of positive impact on the entire business.”

Thanks to Rasmus Skjøtt and to Søstrene Grene for participating in this interview. Stay tuned to this channel for more in depth interviews from leaders in inspirational retail. And sign up for our newsletter to ensure you never miss the latest insights from retail marketing.
Matt Whitby

Matt Whitby