Lowe’s CMO Jocelyn Wong: How digital can help deliver a brand’s purpose
Editor’s note: This is the first in a series of articles featuring the voices of C-suite executives from a diversity of backgrounds, offering tips on how to align digital business goals and purpose-driven goals that help support communities. This interview initially appeared on Think with Google, which features free tools and resources for marketers.
As digital continues to reshape the marketing landscape, it’s providing ways to not only drive growth for the business but also deliver meaning for the brand. While sometimes these new, seemingly complicated technologies can feel overwhelming, they’re much more of a help than a hindrance. For Lowe’s, learning how to navigate this new landscape — and leverage its benefits — has paved the way to success. I sat down with Lowe’s Chief Marketing Officer Jocelyn Wong to understand how the home improvement giant is using digital to deliver on its brand purpose and focus on what really matters — providing value for both the customer and the business.
As a marketer, what motivates you day in and day out?
Truthfully, I never imagined myself working in the home improvement industry. But what really got me excited about Lowe’s is its brand purpose: “helping people love where they live.” We take this very seriously, and it’s ingrained in our culture. It can mean anything from helping a customer get the right tools or expert advice to take on their home improvement project to supporting a community after a natural disaster or during times of difficulty.
As marketers, we’re champions for the customer. And it’s so rewarding to see how being there in seemingly small moments can have a huge impact.
Yet marketing today sometimes feels like more of a challenge than it did 20 years ago. With digital and the proliferation of other new technologies, it can be hard to stay focused. That’s why at Lowe’s, we always come back to our true north star: assisting customers.
You mentioned that digital has made this a challenging time for marketers. Tell me about those challenges.
The biggest challenge we’ve found with mobile and digital is around the new, complex consumer journey. With so many moments and touchpoints, how do we make sure we’re helping people when they need us? Sometimes it can feel like digital is standing in the way of great marketing. We get distracted by the actual technology and lose sight of its role.
But digital gives us ways to connect more deeply with our customers than traditional media ever could. We can be there throughout the customer journey, in many different ways and across many different moments. We’re able to create more value, more often, and engage on a more personal level.
And creating more value for your consumers ties into your brand purpose. Can you share more about the efforts behind it?
For example, several years back we made a promise to our customers that, in times of natural disaster, we’d always have the items they need. We call it our “never out” strategy. We’ll never be out of snow throwers or pellet fuel. We’ll always have rock salt, generators, dust masks. When someone is searching for the nearest places to buy these must-have items, we’re working to ensure our local store inventories are stocked. In those catastrophic moments when people need us most, we’re there for them — whether that’s in store, online, or in search.
Pulling this off is no easy feat. We had to identify items that see a spike in demand during times of devastation, coordinate local inventory with our stores across the country, and connect our store locations to Google for easy directions and detail. It’s a lot of work, but hearing the stories of appreciation from our customers makes it all worth it.
One of my favorite examples of this is when we were there in a critical moment for Caspar, a volunteer helping after the Sonoma County fires in California.
Caspar found us online when he urgently needed to buy dust masks and every local store was sold out. Thanks to search and our “never out” strategy, we were able to help him by telling him we had those masks in stock at a specific store nearby, and he was able to deliver critical supplies to families affected by the fires.
This example really demonstrated to us that digital is so much more than just a channel for traffic, transactions, and sales. It’s a vehicle for reaching out to help — for human connection.
What’s your advice for marketers who are working to better navigate digital to drive their goals?
With so many digital touchpoints to help us understand and connect with consumers, marketers have the opportunity to fulfill brand purpose on an unprecedented scale — more so than anyone else in the company. That’s because we’re in a unique position to understand how new possibilities with technology can deliver on customer needs and, ultimately, business goals.
But to do that, we can’t let technology be a distraction. If we stay focused on nurturing customer relationships, we’ll uncover the ways technology can help. At the end of the day, what really matters is what’s always mattered: Providing value to the customer and business. And digital is how we do this at scale.