The NOW Gen

Innovation

Brands and Globalization: How to Conquer New Markets

In this episode, our host Francisco Serrano talked to Alexandre Ronsin. They discussed globalization, culture adaptation, and brand identity. Listen to hear their valuable insights.

Guest

Alexandre Ronsin

Transcript

Francisco Serrano (01:04)

Hello and welcome back again to the NOW Gen podcast. Today, we’re going to be talking about how brands tackle globalization and how do they conquer new brands and new markets. And for that, I have a very special guest today. His name is Alexandre Ronsin. He is a well-seasoned executive with a lot of experience managing brands, not only in the Americas, he was head of Ferrero Mexico, of the Ferrero Rocher brand, and also in Luxemburg in Europe and also in the middle east market. So I think he has a lot to talk about this topic. And he’s now the head, the general manager of Korea and Japan for the Ferrero company. So welcome, Alex. Very glad to have you here today.

Alexandre Ronsin (02:03):

Glad to meet you, Francisco. It’s really a pleasure for me to be here today.

Francisco Serrano (02:07):

Oh, I’m very excited. We were talking offline about the importance of the markets right now, right. You know, brands not only in the food and beverage category are looking at making sure that their equity and their value proposition adapts to the different markets. Right. So, it’s gonna be interesting and gather your perspective because, you know, the Americas, Europe, Middle East is just one small place now, it’s interconnected, and things, you know, are going to be important to differentiate for brands if you want to conquer markets. But before we jump into that, I wanted to ask if you could just tell us a little bit about yourself, where you’re at right now, where you’re coming from, so that people get to know you better Mr. Ronsin.

Alexandre Ronsin (03:07):

So to make a long story short. I started my career in Mexico, 14 years ago, with Ferrero. First managing a brand, as you were mentioning, I was in charge of Ferrero Rocher, the premium portfolio, and then I took over the Trade Marketing management department. I was in charge in 2012, and then after four years, I joined the headquarters in Luxembourg where I was in charge of commercial transformational projects, for the Asia Pacific, Middle East, and Africa. Then I took over, as the head of distributor management and commercial excellence for the Middle East, Africa, China, India, and Turkey. And I recently joined Korea and Japan market as a general manager since September 2021. So I’ve been traveling a bit across the globe seeing different, perspectives, but also a lot of commonalities between geographies. You know, now we believe that every country is unique and specific, but we see also as well that there are plenty of things that are extremely common now to see across countries, and generations, and it’s quite interesting. So you can see either something extremely different or extremely similar despite the culture, despite the – how can I say – despite the society, despite the industry, despite the retail landscape.

Francisco Serrano (04:47):

Yeah. And I mean, I will stop a moment and ask you, how does it feel to work for a brand such as important as Ferrero Rocher that, because personally, I love them. I just can’t eat just one of them. I have to have like one and two and three. And when I see the relationship that the brand has, I mean, I remember when I was growing up, Luis Miguel was there and who doesn’t love Luis Miguel. I mean, he’s just an icon. What’s your experience managing a premium market and, in different, with the different competition and everything is happening so fast, and you need to accomplish certain volume and certain, I know what is your experience working with that kind of brand?

Alexandre Ronsin (05:43):

Well, first of all, I think, there are a couple of industries that despite crisis, on a crisis will always be successful and food and beverage is one of them. This is also one luxury that we have in this industry. Then second, regarding products like our brand that are premium, high-quality standards. People are looking for that. And it’s not a trend that is new, it is something that has been there for ages. And, I’m sure will be there again in the future. Also, people are really looking for value for money, making sure they’re getting the best out of the money they are spending in the market. And thank God, we have brands that are extremely strong, extremely solid, and of high-quality standards. So it is always, at least in my experience, something much more valuable to do, and to manage. And the reason I’m always extremely grateful, you know, is to see how we are making people happy, and spending good moments with our family, or pampering themselves, or gifting, or celebrating, or rewarding people with our products.

Francisco Serrano (06:56):

Yes. And, and I see, I mean, I grew the, you know, the Western culture of you know, consumption and having that chocolate, is that different in where you’re at in the Eastern, you know, in the Eastern market.

Alexandre Ronsin (07:14):

What is probably different is the size of the consumption. If you talk about European markets, for example, you have an average consumption per capita which can vary from one to six kilos per year. Based on what I remember in Mexico, at the time, the consumption was kind of 100 – 150 grams, per capita. And in Asia, depending on the market can vary from 50 to 200, 300, or 500 grams. So what is really changing is the size of the consumption. What is common is the celebration in the sense that people like to celebrate, people like to give gifts to their family, to their relatives, to their friends. And this is the same. Now we have, here in Asia, lots of celebrations that are unique, like Chinese new year, lunar new year, Middleton festival in China, Chuseok in Korea. And then you have Christmas in Europe, you have Christmas in Mexico, you have Valentine’s, that is quite transversal across the board. Now it’s in the U.S, it’s in Mexico, it’s in Japan. And then you have Ramadan in the Middle East. So all of these celebrations are key moments where we are acting as a strong player because of the gifting positioning we have. So, I would say that what really changes is the size of the consumption and the everyday consumption, but what is the same across, it’s all the seasonalities. 

Francisco Serrano (08:54):

Yeah. So, so we see time and time again, the equity of the product is the same is just, you need to adapt it to the different markets and the different festivities.

Alexandre Ronsin (09:05):

The really tricky key point is you need to find the local insights that make your product relevant and to find a way to enter and leverage on these local insights, without forgetting where you come from, without forgetting the DNA of your brand, the heritage of your brand and making successful leveraging on one specific local insight, to be relevant. This is the key I have seen in many brands, not only ours, I can name a few that I’ve seen also here in Asia. Brands like Nike, Adidas, have developed certain shoes that are unique for the Asian market, because, in Asia, people are used to remove their shoes when they enter in their houses, in their offices. So to make it simpler and more convenient for them, they developed a shoe without back, so people can put it and remove it quite easily in a convenient way. 

Alexandre Ronsin (10:04):

So in order to really be relevant for the local consumer, they have developed this unique model know, so you see the different styles of adaptation to the market. So either you find brands that have understood a local insight and develop a product accordingly, or you find another set of brands not changing anything to the recipe or to their positioning, or trying to find a way to anchor their brand to a local insight. So either you go and you tailor at the maximum level, or you find brands that have really, that are consistent to their positioning and they don’t adapt so they don’t change anything to their brand or brand positioning to be relevant located.

Francisco Serrano (10:53):

And now that you’re talking about adapting the brand, I always had the top of mind that the art of the packaging or the communication in the Middle East and, you know, Asian markets are a little bit different than the Western side. So, I know that some brands like Nike, you were mentioning, or, or even Ferrero has their own brand equity and identity, has that been a problem to, you know, to that you see like, oh, what is this ad from Nike, or what is this ad from Heineken it’s completely different than in the U.S.? And how does a brand owner, like adapt to this type of changes, or is just the same?

Alexandre Ronsin (11:39):

Uh, again, I think it depends brand by brand. As I was mentioning, you will find brands that have dedicated communication leveraging on specific insight, but developing ad-hoc, strategic ad-hoc communication to the market, and some that, that stick to their own positioning, to their DNA, and just trying to find local relevance. Which is the same in the pack type, you know, you see, different for certain ones you see a very different type of packaging, for example, in the case of food you find also much bigger packs in the Middle East because of the size of the consumption. No, you see big, big pack whilst in Asia. You tend to find a very small case count for self-consumption or for small gifting. So what is changing also is considering the size of the consumption, and the size of the packaging as well.

Alexandre Ronsin (12:39):

What is really, I found in my experience, what is really standing out is the detail for quality on packaging. All the gifting in China, in Korea, in Japan. So a couple of markets that I have visited are really putting a lot of attention to detail and quality for the packaging, really outstanding. Now, compared to what we can see in other geographies, you see an attention to detail to make sure that the gift that you are giving is really the best. The way is wrapped, the way, the color that you are using all the detail you put into wrapping the pack is really a culture. You find shops which their job is just to wrap the gift for you, but not like the normal ones we can see in other geographies, it is really unique. It’s an art, it’s part of the tradition, so really brings the gifting moments to a superior level really. So it’s, this is quite funny and quite different, but it’s very anchored to the, to the local culture once again.

Francisco Serrano (14:02):

Wow. I, you know, for me, I mean, I’ve never had the experience of managing a brand in the Eastern market. Right. But I would imagine that when I go as a consumer, I see this offering and it’s not the same as we find in Europe, but that portion of sharing and gifting, I’ve never, I mean, wow, I’m impressed about that.

Alexandre Ronsin (14:32):

Well, what you see as well is different flavors, brands like…

Francisco Serrano (14:40):

Hershey’s, Kit Kat.

Alexandre Ronsin (14:43):

Oreo, Kit Kat. Kit Kat for example, in Japan, they have developed very unique and adapted portfolio to the market to be relevant locally. Uh, they have more than, I’m not sure, more than 30 flavors that you just see in Japan.

Francisco Serrano (14:59):

Wow.

Alexandre Ronsin (15:02):

And flavors like matcha.

Francisco Serrano (15:05):

Yeah, Matcha. I’d tried that one.

Alexandre Ronsin (15:07):

Green tea. So very unique and tailored to the market, than sticking to their regular recipe and go with their regular taste and printing. No. So again, it depends on the brand strategy. I think both ways are correct. Um, as long as they’re matching your end goal in the market, and as long as you can be relevant or how much you are ready to be locally relevant, once again, it’s really,  a company decision to go to this direction. I don’t think there is one magic recipe. I think it depends on, uh, it depends on the brand. It depends on the product DNA, depends on the strength of your brands, and it depends on your ambition in the market. So there is no magic recipe in my plan. It’s just, there is one recipe that is good for you. What is the recipe that is good for you? The good point is that there are plenty of identities, if you are willing to, to make really ad hoc bespoke portfolio, you can, it is valid. If you want to stick to your brand DNA and do not change anything it’s valid. This is the good part in the end.

Francisco Serrano (16:35):

Yes. It’s impressive. How, like you were saying, right. The global brand director or whatever for, you know, Nestle and Kit Kat, has to say no flavors for the U.S. market, never matcha, or yes, let’s try, you know, I’ve sometimes seen, Hershey’s with piña colada flavors and all that just as a gimmick, you know, in Times Square. But I don’t know if that really pushes it. And, but I see in the, in the Eastern markets, it’s different. Right. So, from your experience, what would you say? I know that there’s no shortcut, but what would you say to a brand that wants to engage, you know, the Middle Eastern market and the Eastern market, where you’re participating at the moment, and what are the biggest challenges that you see a brand from your perspective has in order to succeed in this market?

Alexandre Ronsin (17:42):

Well, I think, the first one is really to understand your consumer and your shopper. This is, to me, the first thing to really understand the consumer journey, the shopper journey, and say, what are the drivers and barriers to consumption, to try to find some sweet spots where you could enter quite easily, you know, for example, there are certain applications in Asia, like WhatsApp, uh, called Kakao. And Kakao is an application. It’s a mix of Uber, WhatsApp, and Google. So, it’s a mix. It’s a super, it’s a superb application. You can, uh, you can ask for a taxi, for a driver, you can text people, you can send gifts to people straight from the application, from the chat. So, for brands that are focusing on gifting, it’s the perfect match. Now, this application is focused on gifting as well when it comes to e-commerce.

Alexandre Ronsin (18:52):

It’s the perfect match. And this is the kind of sweet spot that I think you need to find initially to enter in a smooth way, understanding where your brand can fit into the consumer journey. And if there are any retailer platforms where, on which you could leverage to make the journey a bit easier for you, but once understanding the consumer, you need to understand how you can be locally relevant. Um, I can give you some, some examples now that certain brands are trying to leverage on traditional food products in certain geographies, in order to associate the moment of consumption of their product together with the local product, you know, instead of trying to impose one moment of consumption only for your brands or your product, one way to do, uh, to do it is be associating to high consumption product locally relevant with local taste and printing to associate this moment of consumption to your, to your product.

Alexandre Ronsin (20:08):

This could be another way to do it in a, I would say in a smooth way, but everything will depend as well on your capabilities. Which type of brand are you, are you a global FMCG? Are you a local brand with a unique cyber fair that you want to explore to other geographies? Again, the approach would be different. So I think, uh, as I was mentioning, there is no one magic recipe. That is just one thing that is coming across the board, which is to say, you need to understand the consumer deeply and understand what, how you can become relevant to this person. And this is to me the, really the key point, then whatever strategy will put in place, there are plenty, there is not one direction. Every direction would be valid. As long as you are clear on what you want to achieve when it comes to become relevant locally. Do you want to address season and to generate equity via entering into a very intimate moment, which is the moment of gifting or seasonality? This could be another strategy. You don’t necessarily need to go immediately to everyday consumption. To leverage on seasonality is also a very smart way  to become locally relevant and generate penetration in a very unique moment, very intimate, very deeply culturally anchored into the society. So this is also one of the possible angles that you can have when you want to become stronger in a market that is not your, your core geography.

Francisco Serrano (21:50):

And coming just want to explore a little bit more knowing your customer, right? Because this podcast it’s about, you know, the NOW Gen, the instant gratification type of thing, you know, and, and I wanted to ask if you see, um, how do you call it, uh, an influence in the market driven by this instant gratification, like, you know, in the Western, you have the checkouts of the convenience stores and you have the gums and the chocolates, and, you know, and then you go and buy, or, you know, in that moment that you say, let’s do it, let’s push the moment and try to do the impulse buying instead of, uh, a more thought out, oh, I’m gonna go and buy that flower, or I’m gonna go buy that shoe. How do you see the Eastern market?

Alexandre Ronsin (22:47):

The Eastern market where, uh, I would say like many of the geographies in the world where the impulse channel is growing. So impulse together with eCommerce are the winning channel at the minute. And based on the forecast of retail experts, this would be the trend of the future. So extreme convenience. So this is really one of the, the key driver we are seeing, again, not only in Asia, it is something that we see also in America, that the winning channels are the channels that are bringing extreme convenience. Not only because of the convenience but also because in certain countries, you see, um, a shrinkage of households compared to the past where both in the couple are sometimes working. They don’t have time to spend or the willingness to spend in a, in a hypermarket for example. 

Alexandre Ronsin (23:42):

So, that’s why all the convenience channels are becoming more and more relevant because it is convenient because I don’t need to enter in the hypermarket, because in, in the household, we are only two. We have, uh, less kids, or we have no kids. So, all of this is really having an impact on the retail landscape and on the winning channel at the minute. Of course, COVID has exacerbated a bit the trend of extreme convenience, not spending time, not having too much contact, and, let’s say, uh, having more social distancing between people. So then, I would say that COVID  has really accelerated the strain of extreme convenience and impulse purchase.

Francisco Serrano (24:28):

Yeah. In, in talking about the point of eCommerce, because eCommerce it’s related directly with, you know, impulse buying and with convenience, like you’re saying, and the NOW Gen want things now. Oh, I want Ferrero, oh, I didn’t order anything. Boom, boom, boom. Do you see, I mean, all over the world, eCommerce is just growing rapidly in more countries than, more geographies than others. Do you see that market growing at the same pace than the Western world?

Alexandre Ronsin (25:03):

Uh, the eCommerce channel is growing at a faster pace than Europe, than in Europe, for example, in most of the countries in Europe, I would say. There are extremely big platforms. Now you have Alibaba in China. Uh, you have, Coupang in Korea. That is the, let’s say the Korean, Amazon, extremely developed, uh, growing doubling, being the number one, or forecasted to be the number one in the retail industry in Korea. In the future would be the only online player being the number one in the market, which is probably the case already of Alibaba in China. So the number one, there are not anymore the traditional brick and mortar, they are now the eCommerce platform. And because they’re bringing in a very convenient way, uh, huge assortment, typically at the price that is quite attractive, uh, that is saving you time. Now, for example, platforms like Coupang in Korea, if you order before 11:00 PM, you are delivered the day after, before 7:00 AM.

Alexandre Ronsin (26:13):

So overnight delivery, and, uh, it’s not the, let’s say the most. It’s not the most extreme it’s already extremely good. It’s called the rocket delivery system. So you order by 10:00 PM, and 7:00 AM you have the goods outside. But in, in China there are certain platforms called the, uh, delivery intermediates where you can order, uh, without mentioning brands, you can order soft drinks together with a chocolate, and you are delivered in Shanghai in 30 minutes in your office. So, uh, uh, this is really, if you speak about instant gratification, we are talking about instant gratification.

Francisco Serrano (27:01):

Wow. That’s, that’s, that’s a very, and why is, is it because you have the culture and the humans to make that happen with discipline and make it executable at the right time? Or it’s because the power consumption of the market is such that companies have to develop that if not, they’re dead, you know, what, what do you think? It, it has more weight.

Alexandre Ronsin (27:28):

I think it, it’s a mix of, uh, of things. Now, on one side, people probably having less time, trying to optimize that time between office transportation or in big cities mainly, or like Mexico City, for example, people have less time and to move around, it takes time. If you take the car, if you take the subway takes a lot of time. So there is a need to optimize the time. Uh, but there is also a need of impulse purchase, of pampering myself in a certain moment of the day to get energy or to reward myself for something I did, but I have no time. So platforms have really found this sweet spot to fulfill this need. You know, don’t worry, you don’t need to go down and walk, uh, to the Seven 11 or to the family market, uh, to, to purchase some goods.

Alexandre Ronsin (28:26):

You just order in the platform and it will deliver it to you in 30 minutes. So it’s a mix of a shopper’s need together with a business opportunity. Now, the big question in, in this, uh, in this model is the sustainability, the profitability of this model for those platforms because the key point is the delivery cost. And this is really the point where platforms are fighting, are suffering, because this cost of being, uh so fast, so agile in delivering those goods in a very, very short period of time, create a lot of tension in the P&L of those, uh, of those companies.

Francisco Serrano (29:09):

Yeah. I would imagine, I would imagine at the end, it’s like, yeah, you did your job. Yeah. But it’s, you, we have numbers that are not exactly what we wanted…

Alexandre Ronsin (29:19):

At the minute. Those companies are looking for market again. So at the minute it is okay. Now it is really to gain market, to own the market, uh, and not focusing too much on the bottom line, but at a certain moment at the big question is will they be sustainable enough, to continue with this kind of service in the future? This is the big question mark, in my opinion.

Francisco Serrano (29:46):

Okay. So we’re coming to the close of the, of the interview, Alex. I wanted to ask you before we leave, from your perspective, if somebody’s listening on the other side and, what would be your one takeaway of this interview to make sure that, from your point of view, what are the, the most important thing that they can take out of this interview?

Alexandre Ronsin (30:15):

I think first of all is really to be, uh, to be open to new things. If you want to be internationally or locally relevant, you need to be open. You need to be pragmatic as well, uh, and less dogmatic. Um, because if not, you might face a lot of challenges. This is one thing. The second one is that you need to really, understand to who you are speaking with. You need, if you want to be successful, you need to be locally relevant. Do you have something unique to be locally relevant? This is the next question. Second question is, do you need to adapt? Or you can stick to your brand DNA, or product DNA, to be successful. This is another one. And last one is really that there is no one single magic recipe to be locally relevant and to be successful.

Alexandre Ronsin (31:06):

We have seen plenty of examples in different industries, of brands going to the extreme customization to be locally relevant. And some others that have stuck to their principle brand guidelines, brand framework, in order to be successful as well. So, again, there is no one magic recipe is not a matter of just adapting your brand to be successful, is what you want to achieve, and if your brand can do it without changing anything, or needs to make some changes to be locally relevant. This is, I think in my opinion, what, what I’ve seen and again, I’ve seen from extreme makeover of brands and products to same product across the board, same recipe, same position. So you see a bit of everything, in Asia, in the Middle East as well, of international brands, you see really a bit of all.

Alexandre Ronsin (32:01):

So clearly to me, there is no magic recipe. You just need to understand deeply the culture, the people. To understand after that, what would be the right strategy to become relevant to them. Uh, the last one will be around, uh, the channel perspective, as we were speaking, uh, some minutes ago. How the channels would be an enabler of your strategy, how you can reach your shoppers via deep channel strategy, uh, considering all the movements, the shift between offline to online and the blur difference between the two types, between on and off. Now, you cannot see anything because plenty of offline customers are becoming also online players. And some online players are also acquiring at some offline facilities. So it is becoming extremely blur. There is not anymore, nor this customer is an online player. This one is a pure offline, this is becoming less and less visible in certain geographies. And specifically it’s the case in Asia.

Francisco Serrano (33:10):

Wow. Yeah. Very interesting. What for me, it’s, it’s um, you know, how do you call it this puzzling is where do you draw the line between being, you know, strict to preserve that equity and being flexible, because those two things are now in everything, you know, in everything with the pandemic, you know, coming back to the office or not, you need to be flexible, because if not, then you’re gonna have problems in your house, you know, with your spouse or with your kids, you need to be flexible, but you cannot be just so flexible that you let it go. So, that is a challenge that I see that, that each brand should evaluate and, and, and have that customer journey and customize it as, as they will. So, yeah. Well, thank you for that, for that insight, Alex. So finally, this is the fun part of the interview, right? So, since you are an expert in global brands and how to adapt to different markets, tell us what would be your favorite global brand for breakfast since it’s right now, 8:22 AM there in Korea, right?

Alexandre Ronsin (34:33):

Uh, correct. Correct. It is clearly Nutella, I think there is no…

Francisco Serrano (34:39):

There is no, no match, right?

Alexandre Ronsin (34:42):

Uh, but I’m a bit biased because I’m French and I’ve been raised with this brand. So it’s part of our journey. Uh, uh, Nutella in France is as strong as is, uh, Coca-Cola in Mexico, for example, now, uh, this is the type of penetration and, uh, that a brand like Nutella has in, in France, for example, also clearly my breakfast is, uh, is with Nutella.

Francisco Serrano (35:07):

And with a banana, or just Nutella?

Alexandre Ronsin (35:10):

Up to you, banana, bread, milk, up to you.

Francisco Serrano (35:13):

Okay. Excellent. Excellent. Well, thank you very much for your time. We have to close this one out. I know you’re very busy. Thank you. You have to start your day in Korea, but before we leave, is there anything else you would like to say to your audience, uh,  where they can reach you if they wanted to just, you know, send an email or contact you?

Alexandre Ronsin (35:37):

Uh, my profile on LinkedIn is updated, so I’m well connected as well, so don’t hesitate to reach me via LinkedIn profile.

Francisco Serrano (35:46):

Okay. Okay. Now, you know, if you want to reach Mr. Alexandre Ronsin, LinkedIn is the place to do it. Okay. Well, thank you so much, Alex, for being with us here today. And I thank you all for being part of this NOW Generation podcast. And remember if you want to learn more about what’s happening with the NOW Generation brands and how it’s impulsed buying being managed by professionals across the globe, please tune in the next podcast. Thank you.

Alexandre Ronsin (36:23):

Thank you.

Creating Marketing Strategies for Premium Luxury Brands

In this episode we talk with Morgan Jennings, Digital Marketing Strategist at Audi of America about how marketing and consumer experience change from CPGS to Premium/Luxury brands

Guest

Morgan A. Jennings

Transcript

Francisco Serrano (01:04):

Welcome back to the new episode of the now gen podcast. And today we have a very interesting guest Morgan Jennings. Morgan is the current digital marketing managers strategist at Audi of America. Very happy to have her here. Hey Morgan, how are you? You’re a very, very keen and special guests because of your experience in luxury brand industry. So welcome back. I welcome Morgan.

Morgan Jennings (01:32):

ThankyYou. Thank you so much. Happy to be here.

Francisco Serrano (01:35):

Yeah. Happy to have you. And, uh, we were talking a little bit about the technology before we were jumping into this, uh, interview you and, and it’s changing by the hour and by the minute, right. So you have to cope because then you’re when Sue them and then Google meet or it’s Microsoft and it’s just, uh, suffered different things. So, Morgan, my first question, I see that you study, you studied fine arts focusing in fashion business, right? And now you have experienced with some luxury fashion brands also, uh, tell me, how did you go from that into work into the automotive industry?

Morgan Jennings (02:15):

Yeah, so I went to, um, a liberal arts college here in the state of Georgia called Savannah college of art and design. Um, I, it, it inspired me in college, in high school. Um, when I went on a trip to Savannah and, uh, I saw how beautiful the campuses were and how much effort and time the college had really put into restoring Savannah. And then I, you know, I walked into the campus when I went on a tour. Um, when I was still in high school, it was just breathtaking. Um, and so I’d always been into fashion. I’ve always loved fashion. I get that from my grandma on my mom’s side. Um, just, you know, as a little girl always playing dress up, wearing my mom’s heels. So I always thought, you know, I, okay. I want to go into fashion. And, um, you know, I was a die hard J crew lover, uh, when I was in high school.

And so I knew I wanted to, you know, maybe you stay in that realm. Um, so I started working at J crew when I graduated high school and went into college and, um, you know, really lean towards, uh, bastion. And yeah, I have a marketing background as far as my family, my dad was in marketing and so it was my grandfather. And, um, so it really runs in my family. So I knew I wanted to do fashion and marketing, but, you know, as I got older and I matured and I really, you know, figured out who I was and what I wanted, I realized that I wanted to go more into cars and, and ended up, you know, I ended up realizing now in my later twenties, it was, it was meant to always be that way. Pars run in my family, my grandfather, uh, worked as a consultant to GM and Chrysler back in the seventies and my dad, um, you know, restores cars and loves cars.

So it really runs in my family as well. So it just made sense for me to, you know, push more into the automotive sector. So when I was getting my master’s at SCAD, um, I actually picked automotive as my, my thesis topic. Um, and really just, you know, that was where my passion was. So I decided, you know, I set a goal and I talked to a really dear mentor and professor of mine and said, Hey, I want to work at Porsche. Um, Porsche was, you know, local to Atlanta. And so that’s what I put my eyes on and that’s what drove me. And, you know, he said, I know you’re in fashion marketing, but I think there’s a lot of ways that it correlates and I think you can do it. And that’s what, you know, I took my thesis and said, Hey, even though I really looked at studying and fashion marketing, there’s a way to take what I learned and take my, my, um, my, my business acumen really transitioned it into the luxury automotive sector. Um, and I’ve been blessed and that’s what I’ve done so far.

Francisco Serrano (04:57):

Yeah. I imagine what you’re saying is that, uh, you know, luxury, it’s kind of the common theme among the two things. How, how are they connected? Tell me a little bit more about that. How does luxury and fashion and luxury in, in the auto industry? How does that connect?

Morgan Jennings(05:15):

Yes. So when you look through the history of cars and fashion, they’re very, very closely intertwined. Um, we’ve been creating fashion for cars since the beginning. When we first had the cars, they had no, um, covers. So we were creating certain coats and goggles and hats to wear for, um, for the cars that, that these, these people were buying. And of course back in this time, these people were more on the luxury sector because they had the money to afford these cars, right? So as you go on, you start to see fashion houses collaborate with, with car industries, you saw Gucci and Fiat. You’ve seen, um, Hermès and Bugatti. You’ve seen all these cool collaborations and so fashion and, um, cars intertwined, Louis Vuitton, and BMW did a collaboration a few years ago. So when you look at it and you look at the interior of cars and you look at the fashion, they’re all very similar, you know, down from the stitching, like at a rolls Royce, when you look at how intricate the insight is from the star lights up at the top to, you know, the beautiful pastel painting they’ll put on your seat, that’s what you want.

That’s so close to couture and ready to wear and fashion. So they’re very, they’re very similar and intertwined and, and, you know, people don’t realize it, but it’s there. It’s for sure there.

Francisco Serrano (06:38):

Yeah. And it’s getting a little bit more into the, so before I’ve seen it that the, the, you know, the, you could have a car and personalized to your thinking, but it was more the roll Royce type of thing, but now it’s getting, it’s getting a more realistic way before it was just a $300,000 car, but now with Tesla, you can personalize a lot of things with the software. And so it’s interesting. And, and, and how does, I mean, you’ve been, uh, almost two years with Audi and you’ve been before COVID and post golf. It w what happened, did that change things inside your company and your, the way that you will operate in the digital realm?

Morgan Jennings (07:24):

Sure, sure. So, um, really what we focus on in my role is, um, we have, uh, different areas to, so for me specifically, I have 22 dealerships in the Southeast, um, and I’m based out of Atlanta. And so primarily for us, we travel to all of our dealerships pre COVID. And so, um, ironic enough, I was hired in the midst of COVID and started virtually and have only known this job to be virtual until a few weeks ago. So yeah, it’s, it’s been crazy and, you know, they grounded Audi Volks, which we found or Volkswagen group, um, you know, grounded us all. And so, um, it wasn’t until about, you know, two, three weeks ago that we’d been tiptoeing back into the field and slowly starting to see dealerships, but for the impacts, I mean, it’s through and through. It’s not just, you know, we’re not just feeling it, every OEM is feeling it from inventory shortages to part shortages, to technician shortages. I mean, you know, we’ve truly felt that the hit of it, um, you know, and we’re blessed to be doing so well, but it’s definitely, um, COVID, it’s been an interesting time, for sure.

Francisco Serrano (08:33):

I was saying that it’s not only internally that you have problems, you know, getting the parts, getting the cards made and everything, but also communicating with the customer, right. Making, you know, uh, don’t get angry. Your car is coming type of thing.

Morgan Jennings (08:48):

Yes, so it’s really about making those clients and those customers still feel special while they’re waiting for their cars to get there. So we have people who have ordered the new e-tron GT, and we’re just now starting to get those shipments. And, you know, they’re not all coming in at once. Dealers are getting one to two cars at a time, and even the cars are not necessarily sellable, they’re marketing cars. So for us, it’s really about making sure that the dealership is making this customers truly feel special and, and making them, you know, understand that we appreciate you, and we’re going to do what we need to do to make you happy while you wait for your car. And that’s everything from, you know, putting together an experiential event where you get them together with other clients who are waiting for cars and get them in their current Audis and do drives to a winery where everything’s paid for for the weekend.

I mean, it’s about putting together and dipping into those budgets that you have to really make those top tier clients feel special and help them understand that, Hey, we understand that the bind we’re all in, but thank you for working with us. But at the same time, you know, we’re seeing that we have some, some, some room because we may not have a bunch of inventory, but we also have customers, the younger generation that’s willing to work with us because they CA they need a car right now. They may be able to afford an Audi, but they’re not our older customer where they have two or three cars and they can wait on that GT or wait on that QA. And, and, you know, our younger generation needs the cars now, so we can serve them now. And our older generation, we can definitely cater to their needs and say, Hey, thank you for being a client. We really appreciate it. Um, so I think that’s, you know, that’s what it’s all about.

Francisco Serrano (10:33):

Yeah. Yeah. I want to focus. We were talking in the pre-interview about the now gen, right? And you mentioned the word now, like four times just, you know, the younger generations in one now they want now, now, and, and also we have seen that, you know, the baby boomer shows where they want things now, because I mean, they’re a little bit more lenient, but in the end they won now. So how does that world in you’re in the e-com world? So tell us, so the now gen listeners podcast listeners, they, they weren’t there. They were thinking, okay, so how in the hell I’m going to buy a car online? Does that happen? Or no? Or how does it work?

Morgan Jennings (11:16):

So now that we’re in the age of where Carvana came onto the platform and really shook things up for the dealerships, right? And so people are now more educated on the fact that they can purchase online, but they’re not necessarily educated on the fact that, Hey, you can do this through your local dealership. And so we have to on top of get everybody to understand that, Hey, we’re a, we can now serve you in this way. We also have to break down the barrier of the dealership, mists, right? People think that dealerships are just, you know, awful places to go. They don’t want to be haggled, but in reality, we’re trying to create a better process. That’s catered to you where we let you do your thing and we leave you alone, or we’re there if you need us. Um, and so we have now the option to where dealers can fully buy their car online.

And we say fully, you know, no, nobody can fully buy a car online. You’re always going to have to assign paperwork no matter where you buy it from. But as far as the digital process goes, we’re fully integrated for the most part. But what we noticed is that the younger generation, the millennials in, in the, the generation under us, um, is that they will go online and fill out a form, whether it be a contact form or they’ll start, you know, the digital retailing, um, form fills those, start it. But then if we don’t get back to them, if they email us with a question, we don’t get back to them in five, 10 minutes, they’re walking into that dealership and they’re saying, Hey, I need to look at this right now. So even though we’re fully digital, we have those digital features. We see the older customer using it.

Um, and, and coming in and saying, Hey, I filled out all the forms online and here to do the test drive for. We’re seeing yet the younger generation come in and say, you know, I emailed you, you guys, you, you didn’t get back to me quick enough. So I’m here. I want to look at the car. Um, so it’s definitely making the dealership have to adapt and, you know, come up with processes where, you know, say sales people and sales, internet people are both getting credit. And so, um, yeah, it’s definitely interesting time. And, um, it’s interesting to see, you know, how people, um, are reacting to the online buying process.

Francisco Serrano (13:29):

I’m just fascinating specifically in your industry with your challenge, do you have right now because, um, the brick and mortar approach and retailers, for example, you know, fashion industry, they’re kind of using e-com as a, as a, as a leverage of not letting all the sales go and then just selling more, but they still have the real estate and they still want the client to come in. So they’re, they’re creating and innovating different ways to, of having that experience of, Hey, it’s at work to come and look at us here. So how are you doing, what are you, how are you luring them in? And having that, that, you know, balance between hustle free digital, no, you know, this is a prize that said, you don’t have to like, Hey, tell me your best price, tell me your best offer. This is it, but go and live the experience, test, drive the car. So I think that challenge it’s wonderful and interesting for you. Do you have, uh, are you working on that actually every day to make sure that balance is, is it’s, um, it’s meeting the customer’s expectations?

Morgan Jennings (14:42):

Yeah, so I think it starts, it, it definitely starts more at the higher level, right? So it starts all the way at corporate in Germany. It starts from them in the way that they design our dealerships, which they do a beautiful job. Um, our dealerships are fully integrated with the latest technology and set up, and they also have coffee bars for clients to come in and have a full, you know, a full meal and get grits and have tea. And while they’re waiting for their car to be serviced. And so for us, it’s about making the dealership modern and in tuned with technology, but still making it a comfy and cozy place for people to come in. And if they want to talk to those salespeople, or if they want to talk to the general manager, if they want to talk to, you know, to the service people, they still do that and feel comfortable because, you know, I know for me, I personally like to shop in person for, you know, especially for clothes and food and cars.

I still am very much that person that goes into the store, you know? Yes. I order stuff from Amazon. Yes. I order stuff online, but for, for a car, like it’s, there’s still, you know, people want to go in and they can’t wrap their head around like, oh, I can fill out everything online and then go test drive. Like that’s a little, uh, a little much for some people, but it it’s now become, you know, Hey, come in, come see us. We still have those relationships. We still want to build that for you. We still want to take you around the law and show you the different cars and the different colors, go home, take your time, think about it. And then you can start filling out stuff online, and then you can come back and see us. So there’s that flexibility to where, you know, we can have the customer fill out stuff at home. We don’t necessarily have to be there for them and their customer journey. So, um, yeah, I think that making the brick and mortar, uh, a comfortable place and an, and a main focal point will always be something that we’re going to have to focus on no matter what.

Francisco Serrano (16:43):

Yeah. And, uh, when you talk about, you know, you, you talk about trends of some people not going, some people going. So how, as a, as a, as a luxury brand specialty, how do you stay up to date and how do you keep up with all the changes? Do you have like a place to go websites to visit, uh, special education to get? How do you get that?

Morgan Jennings (17:07):

Yeah. So, um, with the way that we’re currently set up, we have a, a special relationship with a dealer.com who is our website provider, and they are always bringing us the latest updates and really doing stuff customized to Audi and the Audi customer. Um, on top of that, just for me personally, it’s really about staying up-to-date on the latest, you know, automotive news, and what’s going on. As far as the social media landscape, like we just had that big privacy update with apple and people don’t realize how that impacts the car industry and that, you know, we have to figure out how to target people who no longer want to be targeted. And so, um, it’s really overcoming all of that. I mean, it’s changing day by day, constantly, right. You know, you have constant algorithm updates and all of this. And I think so it’s very, very important for these dealerships, no matter what, um, OEM, no matter, even if you’re luxury versus non-luxury, it’s about creating a true organic following so that you can, you know, build rapport with your community. So you can show people that we’re more than just this brand. We’re here to service you and be a part of your life and, and, and be a part of your journey. And I think that in today’s world, it’s no longer about just being a brand. It’s about being a lifestyle brand and showing people how you fit into their world.

Francisco Serrano (17:58):

That´s good. That’s good. Um, going into the time machine a little bit here and, uh, look back at your career professional career. Tell me what is that moment that you felt proud of Morgan to say, Hey, you kill it right there with, you know, in any of the companies you’ve been in a situation, just, just so we can understand something that has been challenging for you.

Morgan Jennings (19:03):

Yeah. So in, um, so full transparency when I was like, it starts when I was a little girl, I think when I was in the first grade, I was told my parents were told that I was never going to learn how to read. I was a non-reader and it turned out that I had an eye problem. And so, um, it was basically where my one, I would read one line and my other, I would read another line, but in the early, early two thousands, that was not well diagnosed. And it turned out at random, my family, my grandmother had it, my dad had it, but it was just never diagnosed. And so it was finally when I was in third grade, figured out what was wrong with me, you know? And I was always told, oh, you’re not that bright. Even though my IQ test and really highly, I was super creative, but I just couldn’t read. So I’d fail every subject in school. Right. So then I figured out what was wrong with me, got therapy. And, you know, I always struggled in school, no matter what, at the end of the day, I also had dyslexia. Then I went to SCAD and then realized, you know, I’m definitely a creative, they referred to us as creatives. And so getting through school at SCAD and graduating with Magnum collage on top of my class being, yeah, being part of, you know, a fashion marketing club and being really involved in my school where the professors were coming to me and asked me to be involved in scholarships and do all this stuff. And, um, I was, that was the first moment where I was like, okay, I’m capable of setting my mind to something and doing it. And then once I graduated and said, I want to go into automotive. That was another thing it’s like, how do you do that? You’ve been in fashion. I worked at Louis Vuitton and college. It’s like, how do you get into automotive now? Right. So it started with internship after internship and my dad and I were die, hard BMW fans. And I told myself, you know, I’m going to work at BMW one day. That’s where I want to be. Like, if it’s not for long, I just, I have to work there at some point.

Well, I applied for a Southern marketing internship, um, at BMW of Atlanta. And I got called for, to interview for that, but also, um, a Rolls Royce position. And now he was like, you know, cause there’s a sister company who was like, okay, well sign me up. And so I wasn’t ready. And I wasn’t prepared to move to New Jersey and pick my whole life up and go up there, you know, 23 or 24 years old, but I did it and it was the best experience of my life. My, you know, my boss truly gave me the opportunity to work in every aspect for a luxury company. And it was opportunity of a lifetime. And I, you know, after that conclusion happened at rolls Royce, I transitioned into a position at BMW, the same building. And I was like, I did it, I made it, I, I set this goal out to be at BMW and I did it I’m here.

And I was just, you know, it was hard. It was a bumpy road. It was a lot of work, a lot of sleepless nights working on my master’s while working at Rolls Royce. But I did it. And I think that, that was that, yeah, that was that moment where I was like, okay. And, uh, you know, I definitely had a huge support system and, you know, from, from my home life to my work life, I definitely had people rooting for me. Um, and that’s definitely, definitely helped and played a huge role into it. But I think that when I was there, that was that moment where it was like, okay, I can, I can do it. So yeah.

Francisco Serrano (22:21):

Wow. Uh, it seems that you’ve been a warrior all your life from, from day one and now, you know, BMW, your dream car and, or company brand. And now you’re just overcoming all this challenges. And so well, that’s, I think that’s the spirits survive right. To survive and grow and you’ve shown him so congrats on that. And, and, and I wanna, I don’t to pick on that and ask you, I guess we’re coming to a close some interview and as a takeaway for all the listeners, what would you say to everybody that is listening that Morgan can to tell them so they can take it and use it, uh, in their professional career?

Morgan Jennings (23:08):

Yeah. I think that a lot of times people get deterred or do you know, unmotivated when they have, you know, maybe negative people around them or, you know, not the best situation at home or, you know, things just aren’t going the way that they thought it would because, you know, they had a timeline in their head or something. And the one thing I have to say is that it’s take a deep breath, look at yourself in the mirror and say that you can do it. I think that for me personally, you know, I am, I’m somebody who gets really stressed out very easily and you know, you can’t be afraid of hard work either, you know? And so it’s really about just being in the moment, being present and being your biggest supporter. And I think as long as you can support yourself and you’re willing to put in the time and the effort and the hard work, you will, you can achieve anything you set your mind to, and you can definitely, you know, get through it. I mean, look, you’re always going to have people standing in your way. You’re always going to have things come up. You’re always going to have, you know, something going on. It’s about how you handle those situations, whether handle it with grace or with chaos. And I think that sometimes you need a little bit of both, but you know, it’s, it’s always about taking, I think, you know, a deep breath and just saying, you can do it and you’ll get through it and you can achieve it.

Francisco Serrano (24:32):

Exactly. I completely agree with you. And, and I can attest to the audience that you initially today, you had problems with communication and you didn’t drop the ball and you get, get an old computer and now we’re having this conversation. So, and it was about three minutes. So yeah, I can attest what you’re saying. So it works folks. It works. Okay. So yeah. Thank you very much for that, for sharing that and a question for you, I’m going to treat how a luxury specialist picks the groceries at a supermarket. Tell me, tell me the top three brands that come into your, into your mind. So three brands don’t be shy, just boom, boom, boom.

Morgan Jennings (25:24):

Okay. Um, so I love to cook. I’m a big cooker. I think the top three brands on my God. I can’t think, I just think of like vegetables and stuff like that. Um, I love silk almond creamer. Um, I definitely am a person. I cannot drink my coffee black. I tried that in college, which is I can’t do it anymore.

And then I think, oh gosh. Um, okay. So there’s this truffle pasta that I absolutely love. You can’t necessarily find this in every grocery store, but if you live in New York city, you can go to Italy and you can find it there. Um, I get it at my local, uh, store down in Sarasota. Um, a byte is what it’s called the bites of Tuscany. She’s great. That’s where I get this pasta, but, um, it’s truffle pasta. So if you ever see truffle pasta, I definitely say get it. It’s my favorite thing out there. And then, um, oh God.

Okay. So this isn’t good. This isn’t out there anymore, but the last thing is Trix yogurt, because that was my favorite thing as a kid. And I still look for it on the shelves all the time and I can never find it. And here in Georgia we have beautiful sunsets and they always look like Trix yogurt to me. So I want Trix yogurt and I can’t find it. And it’s just like this never ending battle. And so, yeah, Trix yogurt, the bunny, the bunny, the bunny rabbit with like cotton candy, um, flavors and stuff like that. I love that kind of stuff. And I think, cause I love color. Um, you know, I, I, I love, I love color, so it’s just, you know, it’s probably, it’s awful for you, but…

Francisco Serrano (27:10):

Definitely. Yeah, but I mean, yeah, that’s good. That’s good. You don’t have to like, or be passionate about brands only if they’re good for you. I mean, we all have to have a balance. Right. Excellent. Well, thank you for sharing that. Uh, uh, well, we’re, we’ve been talking to Morgan Jennings out as digital marketing strategists. If someone from the audience is interested in contacting you, how can they do so do you have like a preferable way so they can get in touch?

Morgan Jennings (27:30):

TYeah, um, they could find me on LinkedIn, um, just Morgan Jennings on throw it up in there. Um, also, uh, my favorite thing on social media is Instagram. Um, I’m on there, but, um, you know, LinkedIn is probably the best way if it’s a more of a professional. Um, do you want to ask me, but uh, yeah, it’s pretty…

Francisco Serrano (27:58):

Excellent. Anything else you want to add?

Morgan Jennings (28:00):

Um, oh gosh. Now I think that’s pretty much it. Um, I definitely enjoy doing this podcast though. So, um, yeah, thank you for having me.

Francisco Serrano (28:08):

Oh, it was exciting to learn a lot about the luxury industry and especially how cars are dealing with it’s in the brand Audi, which is right there at the top. So thank you for sharing that. And like I said, at the beginning is it’s your experience and, and, and people just like to listen to this and see they can take away what you just gave us and, and use it in their professional careers and, and we’re learning as we grow. Right. So it’s not, it’s not perfection. It’s just trying, trying, trying until you get there. So thank you. Thank you for that. Uh, if you want to learn more about the most relevant power brands for the now Jan stay tune for the next episode and thank you so much. Uh, Morgan Jenny’s Audi’s digital marketing strategists. Thank you.