Tuesday 23 October 2018

Marketing People: Jennifer Fitzsimons, Head of Marketing, Harvey Norman

With 15 stores around the country and over 900 staff, Harvey Norman is the biggest appliances, technology and interiors retailer in the country. Jennifer Fitzsimons, head of marketing, talks to John McGee about how she gets through the busiest time of the year.

Jennifer Fitzsimons, head of marketing at Harvey Norman
Jennifer Fitzsimons, head of marketing at Harvey Norman

John McGee

Describe your role as head of marketing for Harvey Norman Ireland.

I lead the team in the planning, buying, production, execution and analysis of our marketing campaigns. Harvey Norman is a direct advertiser, so all marketing is done by the team here in Ireland. Many people think that our campaigns are replicated from those of our parent company in Australia, but our campaigns are designed by the local team with the Irish customer in mind.


What are your challenges?

We specialise in a number of product categories and one of the challenges we face is how to communicate the various marketing messages we have within these categories. What works to promote TVs and technology products does not work for furniture or beds. We start by looking at our message and target audience. We then brainstorm ideas for creative and review the most appropriate media types.

Another challenge we have is around communicating the fact that we have dedicated, trained staff who are experts in their category. This is of huge benefit to the customer at the point of purchase.


How competitive is the market?

It is an extremely competitive category, particularly for white goods, where the products have become so commoditised. But we ensure our prices are the most competitive in the market and we have teams that are continuously monitoring, matching and beating prices. We also invest heavily in continued training of our teams, so that they can assist the customer in their purchasing journey and ensure that the products they choose are the right ones for their home and lifestyle.


What are the underlying consumer trends in the market?

Customers are demanding high-quality, beautiful products, whether shopping for interiors, technology or appliances. Trends show that consumers are researching online, then visiting stores to see, feel and demo the product. It’s still all about the in-store interactive experience. We have been busy investing in event-based retail.


At the busiest time of the year, how do you get cut-through in the market?

Our busy period starts from mid-November, when the Black Friday sale begins. Each year this gets earlier and earlier, what started as a day is now a three-to-four-week promotion. Black Friday, Christmas and the January sales are key times for retail.

For me, it is about communicating our message across multiple media types and not being afraid to change it up. What worked last year isn’t always what will work this year. The marketing team spends a lot of time planning for these periods, designing creative which will stand out and working directly with our media partners on advertising solutions that will give our campaigns an edge.

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