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Chief Marketing Officer for Lenovo
David Roman is the Chief Marketing Officer for Lenovo, responsible for driving all marketing activities for the global personal computer maker. Prior to joining Lenovo, he was Vice President of Worldwide Marketing Communications for Hewlett-Packard's Personal Systems Group, responsible for driving advertising, media relations and marketing services. He was also responsible for HP's award-winning "The Computer Is Personal Again" campaign.
Before HP, Roman was Vice President of Corporate and International Marketing at NVIDIA. He also held a number of different marketing leadership roles at Apple in Europe, Asia-Pacific and the U.S. His last Apple role was Vice President of Worldwide Advertising and Brand Marketing.
Roman graduated from the Queensland University of Technology (Australia) with a degree in architecture after starting his architectural studies at the Polytechnic of Torino (Italy). He also pursued executive MBA studies at INSEAD in Paris.
How do you view the disruptive and transformative nature of global commerce communities and online marketplaces like eBay, Alibaba, Amazon and others?
These marketplaces are fundamentally redefining how customers interact with brands and purchase products. This affects not only end users, but also brands that resell other brands. Customer sophistication and ease of use are constantly evolving, and they are increasingly leveraging the IOT capabilities that vendors are bringing to market. Customers expect better deals, a convenient purchase experience and a seamless interaction with brands. Marketplaces are continuing to up their game by providing broader assortments, better financing and shipping options, and ultimately trying to increase the stickiness of their sites. We’re seeing added pressure on traditional brick-and-mortar stores, resulting in store closures and repositioning of the overall retail footprint. In the future, we’ll likely see commerce communities tied with social and physical stores and/or some similar entity that cuts further down on time and cost. As smart home and similar technologies take root, we’re also likely to see a much more intuitive and seamless usage-based experience for consumables and IOT ecosystem products.
To what degree are these always-open, price-driven shopping, trading and auctioning channels impacting and influencing your go-to-market strategy, transactional margins and traditional retail distribution models?
It is difficult for brands to ignore marketplaces because a significant number of consumers purchase from them today, and that number will likely increase. As a brand, it’s extremely important to be present in these new types of markets. Price competition will continue to intensify and put pressure on brands to compete harder, and increasingly, manufacturers will find ways to connect with end users. The future will result in an intense attempt to control consumer ecosystems. The immediate impact will be a considerable disruption based on scale and cost, forcing manufacturers and brands to come to terms with compressed margins and increased cost sensitivity from traditional channels. Lenovo, as an omnichannel brand, has the luxury of balancing its go-to-market strategy based on the needs of its customers and viability of the various routes to market, eventually ensuring a great customer experience for our audiences. The key is to pay attention to the shifting landscape and deal with the new drivers of cost, scale and customer expectations.
What percentage of your revenue is now coming from online commerce, and how do you expect this to shift in the year ahead in terms of resource allocation and business results?
Roughly 7–10 percent comes from online commerce, but it really depends on the market. This trend will likely continue to go up, and we’ll see a shift in customers, resources and focus into eCommerce and related adjacencies from a go-to-market standpoint. Marketplaces will continue to grow dramatically, and focus on the customer ecosystem will intensify. We’ll continue to see B2B—including SMB—becoming much more directly oriented in the future for both efficiency and convenience.
What benefits do global commerce communities offer in terms of how a brand or channel partner can reach, engage, convert, support, satisfy and repeatedly sell to target customers?
The benefits come from access to a significantly higher number of customers in one destination—a destination site. Scale allows many of these communities provide better logistics, shipping options and cost, not to mention a broader assortment of products, which helps customers with a strong value proposition. Financing, cross-brand partnerships and access to resources from a broad community that has experience (technical and otherwise) help brands offset some costs of staffing, such people on their end or providing services that lack scale. Instead, brands can truly focus on improving their product design and capabilities. It’s likely that many brands may skew toward being pure-play manufacturing and focus on that aspect in a heightened manner. The notion of a brand within a brand is gaining traction as well, where an OEM drives their brand experience on a marketplace from end to end. Increasingly, this could have interesting challenges and opportunities for everyone concerned. It is unclear where the trade-offs will happen and to what extent.
What may worry you about the enormous economic clout and market-making capacity of giant online retailers and large, aggregated communities of predisposed buyers and motivated sellers?
The ability to manage margins and pricing and to differentiate one's brand are by far the biggest concerns. This world is increasingly fighting for end-user consideration and ability to control the customer’s ecosystem. It’s a world that’s more price-driven and aggregated, tending to commoditize products faster. One could infer that barriers to competition may go up, which is not necessarily a good thing. On the other hand, one could argue that the market is innovative overall, and it will find a way to provide different and varied services that evolve and broaden the ecosystems for customers.
How well are you sourcing “shoppergraphic” insight, mass customizing and localizing your digital ad messages, and evaluating campaign effectiveness?
We, like many others, focus on digital marketing tactics to reach our customers. These tactics and their interactions through the call center and our websites allow us to understand our customers much better in terms of their likes, dislikes, and preferences. We try to help prioritize products and services by customer segment. We focus on optimizing the customer experience across devices and domains and help to maximize the long-term benefits of associating with us as a patron. This is continuous cycle of optimization—one that has new customers coming in daily, existing customers repurchasing and so on. Our goal is to truly understand our customers’ needs and match them up properly with our value proposition for a particular customer segment, from marketing to support.