Maarten Post – HORNBACH
Maarten Post is Marketing Manager at HORNBACH Netherlands, and responsible for marketing, media, internal communication, branding and PR. He leads a marketing communications department of 12 people, working closely on this.
Ingredients for brand growth according to Post
Maarten: “If I think of brand growth, I think of brand awareness and brand preference. For me that is directly influenced by sympathy for our brand, which will in the end lead to purchase intention and actual buying behaviour.
According to Maarten, brand preference is the most important KPI. “In our category you see that brands are built on pricing, so by giving consumers discounts. We don’t want a short-term discount preference, but long-term brand preference. Our goal is to win the consumer that still will be ours in 5 or even in 10 years’ time, so we have a long-term brand building strategy. In order to convert that to further growth, the biggest influence will be a bigger market penetration. In the Netherlands, if you look for a HORNBACH store, you will pass in average 6 to 7 competing stores first, before you reach ours. Therefore, it would not be realistic to have the number of store visits as a marketing KPI. My goal is that everyone would wish they would have a HORNBACH close by. Fortunately, in the coming years, more stores will be opened.”
“If I compare our development to others in the market, I would say that we are positioning ourselves in a different way. We focus on building trust and satisfaction. And because it’s easier to lose than build it, that principle is embedded with everyone in the organisation. For us, working together on that, makes us unbeatable. We strongly believe growth is in every detail of consumer contact. We are a strong and unbeatable team, with a strong philosophy while using our individual expertise. I think that’s different from our competitors. Our consistency in that approach certainly is.”
Maarten explains that HORNBACH’s main ingredient for growth is their proposition. “The lowest price, a large product range and stock combined with service and expert advice. These are our steppingstones for growth, based on the needs of the consumer. And consistency is key in that approach, plus we keep it simple. Our way of communication reflects this; we design things based on the needs of the handyman. Simple as that. We know this target group is not too keen on temporary sales discounts for example, so low prices must be structural.”
The role of innovation for HORNBACH
This year’s central theme is the role of innovation and brand growth. The first thing Maarten thinks of is that HORNBACH is probably not perceived as the most innovative company. Maarten: “However, we are if you look at our category. We are really different and don’t follow trends. For example, in media, we don’t just copycat digital and personal targeting. For me, creativity is part of innovation. To reach our consumers we published the largest leaflet ever. We have a different way of using media channels based on impact and relevance and we apply hyper location-based advertising. Next to innovative communication, we innovate in the stores: you can buy screws per piece. We have a Drive In store, the first in the Netherlands. We have a fast lane cash deck. All focused on efficiency, for us and the client. So, my definition of innovation would be: innovation for HORNBACH means being distinctive in what we do.”
Organisation breathes innovation
Maarten: “We determine the success of our innovations by its impact. Not on store traffic but on the word of mouth, or the rumour around the brand which we measure in our research programme. But next to research, our main source for innovation is the organisation itself, everyone is responsible for innovation. It’s our culture. Every day must be a better day than the day before. In the stores, our colleagues look at how consumers behave. They are the eyes of the organisation; therefore, many innovations evolve bottom-up. They came up with the idea ‘a shopping bag for men’. So, innovations and the inspiration for it comes from all our colleagues. The best example is really the Drive Inn. It was something and very successful. And thus copied, and then you know for sure it is a success.”
“The difficulties or challenges for innovation are speed, the choices you have to make and the continuous urge to be distinctive”, Maarten continues. “We, as a Management Team are visiting the stores often. This is part of the innovation process. If a good idea is to come up, we often use 1 store to test an innovation before it is applied in all stores. I am quite happy with this process, as on average it only takes 3 steps from idea to innovation, implementation and communication. In relation to brand growth, innovation for us is important. But it is certainly not only tech driven. We do it all whilst never forgetting our focus on the client.