CMO Chats with Alin Dobrea, Marketing Director of Zalora

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Alin Dobrea

Marketing Director | Zalora

Alin Dobrea, Marketing Director of Zalora, discusses integrating storytelling with demand generation, adapting to market changes, and proving marketing’s organisational value.

 

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Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:

  • The journey to marketing mastery often grows through varied experiences in different roles, showcasing the importance of a diverse background in developing effective marketing strategies.
  • Successful marketing campaigns often feature innovative approaches like creating immersive pop-up experiences that seamlessly blend online and offline elements to boost customer engagement.
  • Significant challenges in the field include adapting to shifts in how customers use platforms and consume media.
  • The anticipated future of marketing points towards a significant role for artificial intelligence to streamline operational tasks and allow marketers to focus more on creative and strategic efforts.
  • Leveraging advertising platforms for 360 campaigns, which includes using retail media and strategic partnerships to enhance brand-customer connections.

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Can you tell us a bit about your journey and what sparked your interest in marketing?

I studied marketing during university. I went into the agency world, spent some time in a few agencies in London, and then moved the client side to Marks & Spencer, where I had the opportunity to work on different categories across the UK and international markets. I then decided that I wanted to move to Asia after having done study exchanges in China and India. That’s where I ended up at Zalora, where I’ve now been for six years and am very excited for the path ahead.

What does your company do?

Zalora is Asia’s online fashion and lifestyle destination. The company was founded in 2012. We have a presence in Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Hong Kong, and Taiwan.

We are Asia’s fashion experts. We offer an extensive collection of top international and local brands and products across a variety of categories, including apparel, sports, shoes, accessories, luxury, and beauty for men and women.

What is currently your main marketing focus?

My focus is on 360 marketing through the power of retail media and partnerships with the thousands of brands on Zalora. My team and I run the Zalora advertising platform, which is a cutting-edge marketing unit that offers innovative solutions to brands and advertisers in the markets that I mentioned. We leverage Zalora’s extensive reach to help brands connect with customers in meaningful ways. We enable them to run 360 campaigns and drive awareness, drive sales, and celebrate product launches. We can craft tailored campaigns that resonate with customers in Zalora’s own ecosystem and beyond that as well.

Can you tell me a bit about a particularly innovative or successful marketing campaign that your team has executed?

A really successful one was our pop-up called The Terminal, which we ran in Q4 last year during the end-of-year travel season. The Terminal was a week-long offline pop-up experience where we showcased the latest and greatest from Zalora’s top global brands in fashion, beauty, luxury, and lifestyle. We had a curation of over 40 brands across these categories. The idea behind it was to create an immersive and seamless omni-channel shopping experience. Customers were able to interact with the products. The idea was to create a wow moment for them and elevate the customer journey.

What are your biggest marketing challenges at the moment?

There are quite a few. From my perspective, the key ones are related to the developments in terms of the platforms that are being used for marketing. There’s a lot of shift in terms of where customers are hanging out and platforms that customers are utilising. Then there are a lot of customer insight changes in terms of how customers consume media and how customers interact with brands. That leads to the question of how brands can stay relevant in culture. What sort of campaigns and what sort of experiences do brands need to offer customers to remain relevant?

Another big challenge, I think, has to do with the part of the business that I mentioned in terms of retail media, where we are constantly innovating and updating our platform to allow our partners to deliver better performance and better campaigns. A big part of this has to do with also utilising the power of artificial intelligence and making things easier for our brand partners to engage with customers.

“What sort of campaigns and what sort of experiences do brands need to offer customers to remain relevant?”

How does your company stay ahead of its competitors?

At Zalora, we are about making shopping as convenient as possible. And offering the best assortment and inspiration, as well as the discoverability of products. That’s kind of what sets Zalora apart from our competitors in the fashion ecosystem. Then, regarding convenience, we utilise digital payments, we have a no-questions-asked 30-day return policy, and we have click-and-collect for customers across different convenience stores across the region. We also have our loyalty program called Zalora VIP, where customers can have express delivery service and partner experiences. Ultimately, I think it is about the customer experiences and the services that we provide to our customers.\

In your opinion, what does the future of marketing look like?

The future of marketing is very exciting; there’s going to be a plethora of tools and ways of doing things more efficiently by utilising or even leveraging the power of technology and AI. What that would lead to is enabling marketers to have more focus on the creative and strategy sides of things and be less burdened by the administrative or operational day-to-day tasks, which I think can be enabled through the power of AI. The future is very exciting because we will be able to use technology to free up some time and focus on the bigger tasks at hand.

What is the role of a head of marketing in one word, and why?

The one word is a conductor. As orchestra conductors, in a way, we, as the heads of marketing, have to direct the performance of the orchestra, or in this case, the marketing organisation, and drive the revenues for the businesses. We are the people who are reliable for driving the performance of various individuals, stakeholders, and channels across different organisations. We need to make sure we orchestrate everything perfectly.

What career advice would you like to share with other marketing leaders?

The career advice that has served me really well up until now has been to never stop learning. Aim to learn something new every day and try to be 1% better every day. That would involve reading, testing new things, and interacting with industry peers; basically, having this growth mindset and living that through day in and day out.

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