We had the opportunity to interview Sandra Kennedy, the Chief Marketing Officer at Harry Rosen. Sandra was able to share some of her knowledge about the retail industry with us. Harry Rosen, is a staple Canadian brand that was founded in 1954 in Toronto, Ontario and it now has expanded to 15 Harry Rosen stores and 3 Outlet stores nationwide. In addition, Harry Rosen is also the owner of DAVIDS Footwear which is a Canadian luxury shoe store.
Sandra started her career working at a graphic design company while attending OCA and completing her degree at UofT. She has always had a great interest in communications and has held a number of positions on the agency side as well as the client side. As a successful executive, she has had a life motto that has helped her get to where she is now. She remembers reading an article over 30 years ago that suggested that if you always give 110% to your job, you’d never apologize for what you’ve contributed to a company. She believes that this principle has lead to her successful career thus far after starting at Harry Rosen 20 years ago as a Marketing Manager. She expresses that, “a thirst to do new things and tackle new challenges has also been a part of my work career.”
Sandra believes that, “if we look at the history of retail, it’s always evolving.” She reflected on the fact that when she was a young girl donuts and milk were dropped off to her house based on what your previous consumptions were. Now, we still get things delivered to our house but we order these items online or we go to a store and look at the products, order delivery or arrange for delivery at home. Kennedy has embraced omnichannel as she explains “it’s all about options and what options are conducive to your needs. There is a cycle of always looking for the best way to serve the consumer, and while customers have always provided input, they are even more vocal in telling a company how they should be delivering their service or product.”
Kennedy believes that just like the world of retail, the world of technology has also evolved quickly. She says that, “people say it takes less time to introduce new things than ever before. There’s always those who are interested in early adoption, followed by a steady progression (if the idea works) towards adoption and then acceptance or benchmarked.” An example she used to emphasize this point is that, “twenty years ago people told us it would cost us $50 million to set up an ecommerce site and that is simply no longer the case.” Ultimately, Kennedy explained that technology has been evolving faster than ever. During this time of fast evolution, we were wondering what different strategies marketing teams use in order to remain competitive. In order to stay competitive in this field Kennedy left us with some questions retailers can ask themselves, “what is it about my company (product/service or both) that differentiates us from the competition? Who is the competition – and what are their successes and their weaknesses? How can we take advantage of their weaknesses and satisfy a consumer need.”
Finally, Kennedy reflected upon how Harry Rosen’s marketing team chooses partners and technologies that align with their marketing strategy. She indicates, “we have a number of partners who satisfy various needs. Many of these are longstanding relationships based upon working together for more than 15, 20 and 25 years.” When a partner isn’t able to fulfill their marketing needs and they are looking for something new that they become aware of through conferences, online courses and partners, their marketing team, “look(s) to the marketplace with our needs clearly defined, and (we) check out recommendations, review our requirements and hire/negotiate accordingly.” To be a successful marketing individual, it is vital that you are always proactive problem solving and that is what Sandra’s team has avidly been doing.