Avis Easteal, Regional Head of Consumer at LUXASIA, talks to The Ortus Club’s Elizabeth Camacho about her role as the integrator of strategies to improve company operations and achieve business goals.
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Can you give us a one-sentence description of your company?
LUXASIA brings beauty and luxury products to Asia-Pacific consumers. We do that through our network of retail income distribution channels.
Can you describe the role of a Regional Head of Consumer in one word. Why?
My job is to glue commercials in customer experience together with marketing. You have to understand what offers we are giving. What is it like for a customer to come to the counter? How do we make money and sell products? I act as that glue to technically manage and innovate ideas on a customer and commercial level. To make it all work, I have a complex set of data platforms. I have to make sure that everything comes into the right place and we see what we’re selling. At that point, we can understand what we’re doing. I join it all together, and we come up with execution strategies.
What challenges are Regional Heads of Consumer facing right now? Can you identify a solution?
We’re all struggling with the same challenges with the supply chain. We struggle with big resignations and finding the right talent. From a consumer standpoint, it’s difficult to convince people to buy a product they think they don’t need. So, we have to make that our products are made with purpose or at least with a convincing idea that makes them a staple need in a person’s life.
In the digital age, we have to make sure that we stay as relevant as possible. How do we keep people with us? How do we bring them in? How do we train people and make them stay? What we do on a daily basis reflects what others globally are struggling with as well. We have to be prudent in marketing and how we get the right stock with the right customers at the right time.
How do you explain the success you’ve had in your career?
Curiosity did the job for me. I love seeing the bigger picture and working everything out to make it better. You have to dive in and understand the devil in the detail. Throughout my career, I would consider myself to be lucky. I started as a business analyst, running development teams and other organisations. Because I wanted to learn, listen, and understand everything, being curious helped me take risks and find success.
“Be curious. Work smarter. Be brave. As leaders, we should hire people who are experts at what they do. Experimenting to know what processes work is key.”
Can you tell us about a time you took a major risk in your career?
I became a marketeer by accident. I knew how to run businesses for a company in the UK, but they needed someone to run an email marketing business. At that time, I knew nothing about email marketing. My boss pushed me to take risks because he didn’t need an email marketing expert. Instead, he just needed someone who knew how to run a business. So, I found a passion that I didn’t know existed. I spent my time learning about the things I didn’t know and worked around my mistakes. Risks are wonderful experiences. It’s scary but wonderful. They open doors and windows for you that help improves your career.
How can you see your role evolving in the next two to three years?
Historically, my role has been about building the tech, teaching the people, providing the insights, and all kind of backwards-looking. This is what happened. We can learn from the marketing campaign we did. We can learn from the customer experience. Where I see it going is predicting the future and becoming much more personalised.
So, what do I offer you when you come into the store? How do I know what product will work for you? Is it based on what you’ve bought before or based on what other people buy the first time? How can I find the right gift by purchasing the right mechanic to make sure you convert personally, rather than having that one-mechanic-fits-all. I see more predictive intelligence, and I see more focus on ROI.
I see AI being useful. It doesn’t quite get me where I need it to be yet, but I think it will get there. It’s coming from mainly segment-based marketing to individual focus, marketing, and profitability. That’s going to be an exciting three years.
What marketing/business trends are you taking advantage of right now?
COVID has affected many aspects of the consumer buying process. How they consume, what they buy, what they don’t buy, and what they long for. These are interesting trends that come out of people unable to buy things physically at a store instead of leaning towards online shopping.
In Malaysia, customers are able to walk around not wearing masks outside. Because more are going out of their homes, more people are also buying beauty lipsticks. Everyone wants to touch, feel, and smell to understand what helps them go on about their day. These micro trends give birth to more opportunities for people to consume and buy products, which helps us get more creative in how we market our products.
Another trend we see catching on in the US is fragrances. Since many are still in lockdown or have chosen to work at home, many are exploring different types of fragrances. People are treating themselves and really enjoy being out. Micro-moments are birthed through shopping experiences.
It’s all about customer convenience and not retailer convenience. These trends are wonderful because it gives brilliant customer service. We have to get out marketing right to be there at the right time and place to entice our customers when they’re in those micro-moments.
What career advice would you like to share with other Regional Heads of Consumer?
Be curious. What worked for me might not work for others, but I think curiosity helped me kickstart my learning. Work smarter. Leaders hire smart people to let them do what they’re experts at. Then, train and develop their skills as they work for you. The most important thing is to help them be prepared when things go wrong. Experiment with new processes to find out what works or not. Be brave, keep trying, and believe what works for you.