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THE ERT INTERVIEW PETER BOOTH


20


“We are very proud of our heritage and our innovation stream. It’s our job now to really tell the consumer, through our retail partners, that if you’re looking for the best product in these categories, it’s LG”


The economic growth in Korea [where LG’s


head office and production facilities are based] is amazing. For example, every year Bloomberg ranks the most innovative countries in the world and South Korea always comes out at number one, and has done for the last 10 years or so. We have six R&D facilities; each campus is focused on various parts of our business. But in 2020, we are officially opening a new facility, the LG Science Park in Magok – just outside central Seoul. There will be 25,000 engineers all working on R&D there and the size and scale of that new site is phenomenal.


This is our investment into our future and into the industry, to bring a continual stream of award- winning products that should excite customers and offer real value. We are very proud of our heritage and our innovation stream. I think it’s our job now to really tell the consumer, through our retail partners, that if you’re looking for the best product in these categories it’s LG.


Q: How do you ensure this message gets through to consumers? PB: What I say to our teams, is that despite all of the changes and challenges in the retail market, it’s not all doom and gloom. Retail isn’t dead, it’s just changing. Those that are thriving are the ones that are willing to change with it; the markets are still huge and we’re trying our best to work with the indies, and the nationals, on this. The in-store experience is as important today as


it’s ever been. Consumers are going in-store two or three times before they make their product selection. This is for a considered purchase, which top-end refrigeration and TVs can be. Of course, a distressed purchase is very different, but the opportunities are the same. What’s going to ‘wow’ your customers when they walk through the


door? For me, it’s not about having a high density of products in-store, it’s all about storytelling. So within our specialist in-store and digital marketing teams, we are aware of our in-store messaging and talking to the end consumer in a clear way. When it comes to online, the good thing about digital is that it’s all measurable, so whether it’s traffic, clicks or conversions, everything’s immediate and retailers can try things that work for them. Trying new things is crucial these days.


need to add value in-store and create experiences. That’s perhaps the biggest retail challenge. Because as millennials shop on their phones, we jointly have to give the end consumer a reason to come in-store, more than ever.


It’s a massive opportunity to make things really exciting and immersive and we’re investing in this on a long-term basis. Our products do so many things that the consumer probably doesn’t even expect, so they need to see this, feel it and experience it.


Q: How exactly do you ensure retailers are trying new things? PB: This comes with the product planning cycle. In-store, we’re trying to almost replicate what we see at our global exhibitions, so we’re always trying to push the boundaries with standout products and using space effectively. In the old days space just meant density of product but now it’s about using it for effective messaging. Consumers literally spend seconds taking this in so the messaging has to be really clear and compelling. We are starting to help retailers move in this direction; they’re recognising that they really do


Q: How do you think the retail market in general will fair over the coming months? PB: Well, we know the market is down on the year but that was to be expected. In my opinion, you’ve always got to have a realistic view, and the second half should show us some recovery. The most positive thing recently was that July consumer confidence was up for the first time in a long time. But we’ve got the Brexit subject hanging around, which causes more uncertainty, even more now than when it first happened almost three years ago. It’s another challenge in an already challenging market. Sectors aren’t necessarily shrinking – the TV market, for example, is pretty much flat. There are some things that I wouldn’t be able to allude to that we and some retailers are doing, to try and best manage the situation; this means we can bring some stock a little bit earlier, but I think people are just ‘double-nervous’. And Brexit comes at the worst time – the peak of this industry’s Q4 will be around 31 October, just before we go into Black Friday ahead of going into Christmas sales. It’s going to be really tough.


That’s why I maintain that every manufacturer


and every retailer has to be engaged and you have to make sure it’s a win-win collaborative partnership – there’s no future in one partner winning and one partner losing. Simple as that.


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