As Sainsbury’s marketing director, I am responsible for a wide remit, so the need for a clear
set of performance measures across the category
is paramount. We all know one of these measures
will be the ‘ugly duckling’ – value. But however ugly this duckling may be, its place in the marketing
function is vital.
To achieve commercial success in this area, we needed to look not only at the structure of the procurement relationship required to deliver value, but crucially, what skill set was required to deliver on tough challenges in marketing.
For some companies, it is a long-held tradition that marketeers use procurement specialists in isolation
to deliver savings. This can work and deliver benefits, but the approach has also been known to fail. At Sainsbury’s, we felt it necessary to create a role that bridged both the marketing and procurement skill sets.
We identified the need to have practical experience and knowledge of media planning and buying, in addition to procurement/commercial expertise – a dual role to facilitate the whole contract lifecycle. Such a role achieves multiple objectives: knowing that our media buying rates are best in market; that we are getting great service value; and ensuring that everything from staffing levels to print production are provided at optimum levels. It’s not just about cost savings, but also media buying diligence and strategic media decisions.
That’s the theory – what about the reality?
Having identified the skills required, we needed to create a structure that would act as a catalyst for successful delivery. The role, head of media and advertising, has a prominent position in both our marketing leadership team and the procurement team structure. The role engages with all divisions, from digital to own label, ensuring that we have the relevant context to underpin negotiations and relationships. The link into procurement provides commercial diligence and support via process, best practice and the benefit of having
an additional perspective.
It’s early days, but I’m delighted with the changes we’ve already made. The new structure has already delivered significant benefits and is set to deliver a lot more. It is the most successful model that I have seen within this arena.
Just four months into the role, the head of media and advertising has already started to deliver benefits – both fiscal and operational. Time spent getting underneath the contracts with key suppliers in the area has unearthed some opportunities to drive efficiencies that a purely marketing, or purely procurement, professional would not have identified.
Being able to own the end-of-contract lifecycle
has proved that decisions can be more readily made, and the time often taken to seek necessary approvals
Five tips for success
1. Build a rapport within
the marketing function.
Be approachable and a supporter rather than a blocker.
2. Technical marketing skills and experience enables you to provide insight for objective contract and commercial decisions.
3. Category and industry knowledge builds credibility in discussions with stakeholders and agencies.
4. Appreciate stakeholder needs and requirements – demonstrate that they are central to your approach.
5. A good understanding of the wider business and marketing strategies will enable you to align your commercial approach accordingly.
☛ Sarah Warby is Sainsbury’s marketing director
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