Our Ten 2019 Radicals Are Breaking Barriers

Written by:



Last week we announced the 10 finalists of The Robin Report 2019 Radicals Awards program, launched last year in collaboration with SAP. The mission of our program is to seek out and identify radical and innovative thinkers and doers, exclusively in the legacy or traditional brands and retail industries. Our premise was to celebrate the innovators within the legacy world who are driving fundamental transformation and are seldom recognized. Their challenges are enormously more complex in attempting to turn \”battleships\” into \”speedboats,\” than those who are starting from scratch with a clean slate. We will be celebrating their accomplishments and revealing the 2019 Radical of the Year Award at Shoptalk in Las Vegas on March 5th. Link Please join us for breakfast, including an inspirational message from Steve Sadove, former CEO of Saks Fifth Avenue.

The 10 finalists were selected through a process that involved submitting a nomination form and a first-round screening by an objective third-party panel of retail and brand experts. A distinguished jury of industry veterans will select the final winner.

These 10 finalists are innovating powerful concepts that will be needed to reverse the five major barriers that legacy retailers and brands are confronting:

  1. Lack of enlightened leadership;
  2. Sclerotic, siloed cultures, stuck in the past;
  3. Inadequate capital to invest in the future;
  4. Lack of urgency and speed; and,
  5. A last century mindset.

Obviously, the biggest barrier, that will render the others moot if not overcome, is lack of enlightened leadership.

All 10 of our finalists, whatever their titles and roles, get it. Whether leading a team or the entire company, they are enlightened. And they have mentally jumped out of their legacy \”boxes\” and are creating new words and concepts, and therefore, new realities. They have been inducted into our inaugural Radicals Hall of Fame link
Let\’s meet three of the finalists and learn why they are Radicals and how they shook up their legacy brands. We will be sharing the innovations of the other seven finalists throughout the weeks leading up to the Radicals Awards breakfast. Please note that the finalists will be introduced in this report in random order.

Tricia Nichols, Senior Vice President, Consumer Marketing, Estée Lauder

Tricia broke through the traditional marketing models, most commonly used in the legacy world and transformed consumer conversations and how they engaged with them. She introduced micro-storytelling and redefined Estée Lauder\’s approach to consumer-centric marketing and experiences including integration across Online, Education, Retail Experience, Social, Digital and through Influencers.

When Tricia joined Estée Lauder, she set strategic goalposts around sharing meaningful narratives, creating integrated experiences and getting (ahead of) where the consumer is inspired and shops. She expanded storytelling and experiences to reach consumers through new and unique lenses and opened new channels for Estee Lauder such as Augmented Reality, AI, Messenger and Home.

Tricia forged new ground in their omnichannel efforts, collaborating with Google on voice-enabled experiences and creating a new channel (Home) for Estée Lauder. This positioned the brand as one of the first beauty brands to launch on Google Home and Voice.

Tricia\’s approach to innovation and consumer centricity has led to greater sales results across all channels. It has created deeper bonds with their consumers and has lowered the average age, engaging the new young consumer culture. Estée Lauder now has a 50 percent increase in conversion after a social media content / UGC interaction on .com. They have doubled their global followers and seen up to a 5X increase in engagement.

The partnership with Google Home opened a new channel for Estée Lauder. And they are the first beauty brand to offer personalization via voice through Google Home. The partnership beat Google\’s own benchmarks for time spent on Google Assistant, more than 3X. And, it led to the identification of the nighttime \”magic hour\”, when consumers want to learn about nightly routines.

Andrew Clarke, President, LOFT – ascena retail group, Former EVP Chief Merchant, Justice + Sara Tervo, Chief Marketing Officer, Justice – ascena retail group

As a team, Andrew and Sara reimagined the entire Justice organization, eliminating the linear, \”siloed,\” functions of most traditional retail models. They seamlessly integrated all of the functions, so the various teams now collaborate in every stage of the process. They also changed their description of the business they are in, from being an apparel retailer to \”providers of apparel solutions,\” thus freeing their teams of the restrictive \”old-world\” mindset. This new mindset allows them to expand their vision and to implement all of the new transformative new technology tools available.

In fact, through their focus on data analytics used to clearly understand the tween girl — what she wants, how often she visits the site or the store, what other brands she\’s looking at, how her transaction started, and much more, they were able to shorten their production calendar to 10 days. The also took a unique approach to analyzing their marketing data to get a clear picture of ROI generated by each campaign. More importantly, markdowns have decreased and Justice\’s fashionability index effectively increased.

This level of ddata-driven\”personalization\” and knowing precisely what their tween customers are dreaming for also led them to launch Justice Studio, a new revenue stream with original, safe entertainment. It will create original content. They partnered with Elevate Pictures to develop projects starting with a graphic novel series called \”Ultra Squad,\” a documentary called \”Finding Clara,\” and the Live Justice Awards. More to come on this.

Marc Mastronardi, EVP, Innovation & Business Development, Macy\’s

Marc has been a Macy\’s employee for 20+ years, which would lead one to think that he might be embedded in Macy\’s past way of doing things. Think again. He has been given free reign, receiving buy- in from senior leadership to focus on \”what\’s new and what\’s next.\” He single-handedly formed Macy\’s Business Development team to help drive innovation and change. He also brought people from the outside, with different industry backgrounds to help spark change and new thinking in Macy\’s. He understood that coupling a team of external thinkers with his knowledge of Macy\’s could be the change Macy\’s needed to bring new customer experiences and excitement back into their stores.

In the past 18 months, Marc launched Virtual Reality in Macy\’s Home Department to address the pain point customers have with design and fit. He also launched The Market @ Macy\’s, a retail-as-a-service platform which reutilizes Macy\’s real estate in a completely new way, resulting in new pop-up spaces that allow for newness and discovery in-store. Additionally, The Market created an entirely new business model that is no longer dependent on sales, which is a completely new way of interacting with brands in their stores. Another initiative that Marc spearheaded was Macy\’s Style Crew, a micro-influencer program that uses its own employees to drive sales through video commerce. Each of these initiatives has propelled the company forward, and has resulted in scalable initiatives that are changing the landscape of Macy\’s stores.

His creation of the business development team has enabled him to drive meaningful change for consumers and to identify new revenue streams for the company. Each of the initiatives described above is being scaled across numerous stores.

Again, please join me at Shoptalk on March 5th to congratulate these three finalists and find out who the winner of the 2019 Radical of the Year Award will be.



Scroll to Top
the Daily Report

Insights + Interviews right to your inbox.