Williams-Sonoma, a retailer that plays in categories likes home furnishings and kitchenware, believes that prior efforts to strengthen its in-house advertising capabilities are helping it to react at speed to COVID-19.

Felix Carbullido, the San Francisco, California-based company’s evp/chief marketing officer, discussed this subject on a recent conference call with investors.

The fact the company had enhanced its internal advertising skills before the crisis struck, he argued, has enabled it to move at the necessary flexibility given the trading environment is in a state of flux.

“As a reminder, over the past few years we’ve built our own in-house advertising team, which allows us to react quickly to changing dynamics in the market, and consumer behavior during these times,” he said. (For more, read WARC’s in-depth report: How Williams-Sonoma is providing comforts of home during COVID-19 pandemic.)

Given that temporary store closures are now a reality of life for retailers, it is tightly managing its outgoings – a process which inevitably applies to advertising.

“We are aggressively cutting non-essential expenses throughout the company, including a number of marketing line items,” said Carbullido. “That said, some are more obvious than others.”

One point of focus is the organisation’s direct-to-consumer (D2C) ecommerce operations, which already deliver 56% of Williams-Sonoma’s total revenue.

This channel will be crucial as people spend more time at home and look online to make purchases that can spruce up their living space. “We are still continuing to invest in our D2C business, where we see strong results,” said Carbullido.

Williams-Sonoma also has category-by-category data suggesting that particular segments – like private-label food, plus other essentials at a moment of reduced mobility and heightened anxiety – are especially popular.

Drawing on such information, the firm can make sure its advertising is the most relevant to the changing needs of shoppers as the COVID-19 develops.

“So, we feel very confident of cutting back where we understand it’s not business critical and for investing where we see an efficient ROI,” Carbullido said.

Sourced from WARC