The ICSC Blog

Q&A with MOCIAL Speaker Natanya Anderson

Natanya AndersonTell us about yourself….
I am responsible for social media, email, and other digital communications for the Whole Foods Market brand. Outside of work I am a mom to an active teenager, a food blogger, and a member of several non-profit organizations.

What is your favorite apps to use?
My favorite productivity app is Evernote because I can store any information I need to and access it from any connected device. I keep track of everything from work meeting notes and strategy plans to family to-do lists and blog post drafts. My favorite “just for fun” app is Instagram. I’m one of those people who takes photos of almost everything I eat and I love seeing my friends worlds via imagery.

With society’s increasing dependence on technology, what changes in marketing strategies has it made in last few years?
Technology has given our customers a strong voice and an always-on expectation. They expect to be part of the conversation and to be able to have that conversation with a brand whenever and wherever they would like. This not only changes how we think about communications and cadence but the ways in which we create truly compelling engagements instead of pretty ads and witty copy. We have to focus our energies now on building relationships with customers through technology.

What have been the benefits of incorporating digital marketing and mobile apps into your corporation?
We have access to the voice of our customer in ways we’ve never before experienced. We can ask them questions and get quick, honest (usually brutally honest) responses back. We also have the opportunity to engage with them in 1×1 conversations that non-digital marketing formats don’t typically provide. We can also be with them every single day, even when they aren’t in our stores, so we can be constantly of service to them, building a long-term and differentiated relationship.

In what ways has the digital age revitalized your industry?
The retail experience is becoming technologically enhanced, with digital devices establishing themselves in the store environment. Merchandising can have quick-change digital elements, people can look up pricing and review information before they buy a product in store – not just online. Customers can also share their retail experiences as they happen and create greater community around the retail environment. People shop with mobile devices as part of the experience now and that’s transformational for the customer experience.

How important is consumer engagement? How do you bring attention to your brand through you social media channels/mobile apps?
Consumer engagement is everything to us. If the consumer isn’t engaged the the work we’re doing simply doesn’t matte because it isn’t reaching our customer. We work every day to build relationships in social media so when we have stories to tell our customers are ready to hear them. We differentiate ourselves by focusing on customer lifestyles, desires, and dreams long before we focus on any marketing messaging.

What do you hope participants will gain by attending your MOCIAL session?
With so many digital communication opportunities today it can be difficult for businesses to narrow the list to the ones most beneficial to their business and their customers. I hope to provide some actionable advice on how to pick the digital marketing approaches that will really work for a business and remove some of the pressure for every business to participate in every possible opportunity.

Is the increasing number of online shoppers a concern to you?
The proliferation of online shoppers creates an opportunity and a challenge for retailers because we have to be very thoughtful about how we differentiate the in-store experience. We have to listen to our customers more than and ever and tap into the benefits an in-store experience can bring that simply can’t be duplicated by an online experience. This will change the retail landscape and it may be difficult for a while, but the truly innovative and connected retailers will emerge with new and better customer experiences that will serve everyone better. Online shoppers are simply a forcing function for improving the in-store experience.

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