Digital Trends – Working across both the Startup and the Corporate Environments
An interview with Luka Brekalo
Where are you now?
I am the e-commerce manager at L’Oréal Germany, Cosmétique Active.
Tell us a bit about your path since the studying the MSc in Marketing & Creativity (MMK)?
I first started at Procter & Gamble as a “Brand Manager”. I oversaw Gucci, Escada, Rochas for Germany, Austria and Switzerland. While there, I was in charge of adapting the global strategy to the national and local markets. Some key launches I was responsible for were Gucci Guilty and Especially Escada.
After a year and a half, I left for Berlin to work as a Brand Manager at Zalando, Europe’s leading Online Fashion Retailer. I stayed for about another year and a half, and was in charge of building up the brand Kiomi, a private fashion label and online platform in the Zalando network.
I then went on to work as Senior Brand Manager at an online auction platform company, Auctionata, on a brand building project. In the year that I worked there, I relaunched the brand, which entailed undergoing extensive consumer and market research, repositioning the brand, a complete re-design, creating a new communication strategy, and entering new markets in the EU and the USA.
I’m now at L’Oreal since June 2015.
It seems that this career path–going from a big brand to the start-up environment and back–is “not by the book”. How has this unusual career path made you who you are today?
It’s been very enriching to work in both the corporate (P&G, L’Oréal) and the startup (Zalando, Auctionata) environments. On the corporate side at P&G, marketing basics and best practices became ingrained in me. I learnt how to launch products as well as campaigns, handle big budgets, etc. This part of my experience I consider to be “by the book.”
On the other side, at Zalando I was given a lot of freedom, which also meant responsibility. I had to start from scratch, do research, gather data, lead a team, and be hands on and agile. It was great being part of a company that developed so fast.
I think nowadays you need to be able to combine both skill-sets, since everything is converging.
Furthermore, getting to know different industries (FMCG/cosmetics, fashion, art, luxury) was very fulfilling and motivating!
How did the content of the MSc of Marketing and Creativity affect your various jobs?
The MMK encouraged me to think out of the box, always question the status quo and strive for excellence.
Tell us about something you’ve done that you are particularly proud of?
At L’Oréal, I’m in charge of the e-commerce strategy in Germany. I’m basically responsible for growing the online business, increasing our market share and ensuring incubation of new business and growth potentials, while keeping the brand’s identity and our objectives in mind at all times.
Recently, for the L’Oréal brands La Roche-Posay and Vichy, I improved customer experience and purchase path via a digital content marketing strategy where we partnered with key e-retailers. One of the key elements of this campaign was developing a “digital love brand” strategy with a team of other managers (Social Media, Digital Marketing, etc.).
Our goal was to make consumers passionate about our products and brands by allowing them to post recommendations online, follow our social media activities, share and like our content, and convince other consumers to do the same. My efforts resulted in an improved conversion and purchase rate on all devices (desktop, tablet, mobile),on top of successfully integrating rich and high quality content which fuelled this digital love brand strategy.
What is a key lesson you would like to share with your fellow MMK-ers?
Agility is critical in my eyes. Markets are super dynamic; innovations are coming faster and faster. Digitalisation and technology is moving forward at such a fast pace, with new players constantly emerging. If you want to be 100% sure of something, you will be 100% too late. So nowadays you also have to trust your intuition.
I think the MSc in Marketing and Creativity is the ideal springboard for today’s business environment, as it covers a lot of important aspects that other programmes do not recognise. The combination of lectures, case studies, projects, seminars, internships, the online marketing course, all while studying with international and multicultural classmates in London and Paris really opened gates to all the experiences I have had so far…!
Anything else you would like to share with us?
L’Oréal Germany is doing very well when it comes toe-commerce and digitalisation! We have some key “digitalisation” projects running and are increasing our online share month by month… I love being part of such a dynamic company, which is driven by research, innovation and creativity–a very multicultural and inspiring environment.
If you would like to know more about ESCP Business School and its Marketing and Creativity programmes we invite you to register for our next virtual session on Thursday 17th March at 6:00 pm (London, UK time).