Profile: Rodney Waights, Vice President, Shopper & Customer Marketing, Beiersdorf
Rodney Waights has spent his entire career with Beiersdorf, but not all on the same continent. Waights joined the company out of college as a sales representative in Australia and worked his way up, holding positions at almost every level in the sales organization. He switched to shopper and customer marketing in 2010, led the integration of the Australia and New Zealand shopper marketing functions, and then held the position of director for shopper and customer marketing, Asia Pacific. In 2016 Waights moved to the U.S. and shortly thereafter assumed his current role.
What are your current responsibilities?
WAIGHTS: I’m privileged to lead and develop a talented, engaged team. I see my role as building capabilities across each of our workstreams in order to fulfill our shopper marketing mission, which, in part, is to deliver actionable business intelligence and relevant, disruptive activations that compel shoppers to buy wherever they choose to interact, creating brand and category value. As a member of our U.S. leadership team, I have the opportunity to shape the U.S. business direction and advocate on behalf of our department at the very highest levels of our global business.
How does your company organize its shopper marketing function?
WAIGHTS: We have four interconnected work streams: revenue growth management, category management, shopper marketing/merchandising and market activation. The latter is responsible for managing innovation and preparing all aspects of the launch for market/retailer readiness. This pillar also has the responsibility for developing shopper insights.
What motivates you most in your current position?
WAIGHTS: Understanding that we truly do make a difference to our consumers through our products. This is both inspiring and rewarding. Also helping to evolve and transform a really good team into a class-leading team. As a part of this journey, I enable individuals to build new skills, develop new ways of working and create opportunities that contribute to a strengthening of our business. This is my leading indicator. The lagging indicator is the shopper retention/conversion we generate as a result of our efforts.
See the full 'Who's Who' report
For more profiles of shopper marketers, download the full Who's Who in Shopper Marketing 2019 report.
What was your biggest professional challenge, and how did you overcome it?
WAIGHTS: Moving overseas, learning a new culture, different market dynamics and ways of operating while simultaneously putting pressure on myself to deliver early results. It took time to moderate my own expectations, engage people in the vision and to see impactful change – but the results have been worth the effort.
What about shopper marketing concerns you?
WAIGHTS: The age-old problem applied to today’s environment – finding insight-driven, effective methods to engage and delight new and existing target shoppers in relevant and meaningful ways. The level of information and tool repertoire grows, but the task remains unchanged and real.
What is the shopper’s greatest need today? How is your team or organization working to meet that need?
WAIGHTS: To make informed decisions. In a world full of advertising and content clutter, shoppers seek personalized, authentic, engaging and relevant information when, where and how they choose to interact. This may lead to a buying moment at the time – or later. Our challenge therefore is to provide the right experience or meet the right need in the right micro moment. Winning brands are mastering this. It’s something we’re giving a lot of thought to, but we have more to test and even more to learn.
WAIGHTS: We recently leveraged several insights on the dermatological skin care shopper to partner with a drug retailer. Without giving everything away, one visible aspect of this execution was the installation of derm skincare units with an iPad that enables shoppers to research and confidently self-select their product based on their skin care need. When a selection is made, the shelf lights up highlighting the product. We’ve achieved strong sales growth from this activation and a lot of learnings that will lead to a better 2.0 version.