Profile: Kelly Downey, Vice President of Marketing Operations, Philips Personal Health NA
Kelly Downey started her career at General Foods in field sales before it became Kraft. She worked her way through various sales planning, consumer promotions and sales management roles over 21 years before moving over to Unilever to run shopper marketing. Her team managed a variety of burgeoning channels such as dollar stores, drug, club and beauty. This also is where she cut her teeth on Amazon and e-commerce. She continued her education by moving to Philips in 2013. At Philips Personal Health, she started as the vice president of digital and shopper marketing, accountable for Philips.com, the Philips online store, CRM, the consumer care team and the digital center of excellence team before her role evolved last year into the vice president of marketing operations.
Describe your current role.
DOWNEY: My responsibilities have expanded to include the integrated marketing communications (media, PR, social, communications) and category management teams. This role is responsible for the overall vision, strategy, capability building and execution for Philips marketing services activities in North America across all categories and customers to deliver a seamless consumer experience.
How does your company define shopper marketing?
DOWNEY: At Philips, we believe that demonstrating our “shopper obsession” in collaboration with our retailer partners will deliver growth for our portfolio of brands and categories through key shopper segments. The ultimate vision is to drive purchase awareness, consideration and conversion by directing consumers to where products are purchased and winning their attention at-shelf and online, at the precise moments and locations where shoppers are ready to engage.
Can you share a recent example of your team’s work that stands out?
DOWNEY: A recent example of our success has been the launch of our Philips Norelco OneBlade. Through a combination of breakthrough product and marketing innovation we have been able to disrupt the category and consumer. The marketing component of the launch was highly targeted and digital in nature, designed to reach and engage Millennial males along the digital consumer decision journey with impactful placements and conversion tactics at point of purchase as well.
What motivates you most in your current position?
DOWNEY: The fast pace of all things digital, the changing consumer landscape and my talented team. I have an amazing team that teaches me new things every day as they bring unique skills and subject matter expertise to our brands, our retailers and Philips overall.
What was your biggest professional challenge, and how did you overcome it?
DOWNEY: My biggest professional challenge was actually transitioning cross functionally – a few times. I moved from sales to promotion to shopper marketing and then to digital. It was always frightening to admit what I did not know in a new role. A strong desire to keep the consumer and customer front and center has remained my north star, built on solid retail roots from early in my career. The basics of sales and marketing do not really change – just the technology and tactics.
How has shopper marketing moved forward in the past decade?
DOWNEY: I think shopper marketing has moved forward just like traditional marketing – with consumers in more control than ever and also digital, moment marketing is so critical to the path to purchase. Measurement has also come a long way. Data is the new currency.
What is the shopper’s greatest need today, and how is your team or organization working to meet that need?
DOWNEY: I think consumers/shoppers crave more personalization today. We work closely with our internal teams to better understand who our consumer is, where they are and how they engage. We have external partners to help provide meaningful and relevant content, products and solutions to them.
What’s your vision of retail and shopper marketing in 5-10 years?
DOWNEY: As the omnichannel lines blur, we recognize the inextricable link between shopper marketing and the digital shopper journey – especially in an ever-changing retail environment. An end-to-end approach will be critical from trigger to purchase, online or offline. As delivery methods evolve from trucks to drones and purchase points develop from store aisles to voice-activated ordering, it continues to be a brave new world at retail. We all need to stay on our toes.