Why is Lowe’s moving its marketing ops under its merchandising veep?
Marisa Thalberg, chief brand and marketing officer at Lowe’s, has left the home improvement retailer as part of a corporate reorganization.
Lowe’s said on Tuesday that it was doing away with the CMO role and that its marketing team would now report to Bill Boltz, executive vice president of merchandising. The retailer said that Jen Wilson, senior VP, brand and customer marketing, has been promoted to senior VP, enterprise brand and marketing and will report to Mr. Boltz.
The retailer’s online team and Mike Shady, senior vice president of online, which previously reported to Mr. Boltz, will now report to Seemantini Godbole, Lowe’s chief digital and information officer.
A company spokesperson told Ad Age that the reorganization was necessary “to improve alignment across the business …, we need deep integration between marketing, merchandising and stores.”
Ms. Thalberg’s departure, CNBC reports, follows two straight quarters during which Lowe’s posted same-store sales declines against strong year-over-year comps. Lowe’s benefitted in 2021 from its customers receiving government stimulus checks and focusing more of their attention on their homes in the face of the pandemic. Consumers in 2022 have focused their spending on necessities and cut back on discretionary spending as a result of rising prices and economic uncertainty.
The retailer initially brought Ms. Thalberg in from Taco Bell where she served as global chief brand officer to modernize its marketing and branding. Under Ms. Thalberg, Lowe’s moved into several high-profile campaigns, including running commercials on ESPN during the NFL Draft broadcast. She was also key to new marketing initiatives at Lowe’s, such as Halloween trick-or-treating, and Valentine’s Day date night and Petco shops inside the chain’s stores.
The Ad Age piece points out that it’s unusual for retailers to place marketing under merchandising. Richard Sanderson, a consultant at Spencer Stuart, said the practice was more common in grocery more than a decade ago when “marketing was really driving weekly promotions and print circulars.”
Ms. Thulberg’s exit from Lowe’s is likely to be followed by others at retail as more companies look for answers to boost sales during a period when customer demand has slowed, inventory has piled up and companies engage in a steady stream of markdowns to move merchandise as the Christmas season draws near.
- Lowe’s chief marketing officer leaves the company as part of broader shakeup – CNBC
- Why Lowe’s Isn’t Replacing Its CMO Following Marisa Thalberg’s Exit – Ad Age
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Does it make sense for retailers to move their marketing operations under merchandising as they focus more on sales promotion activity? Do you expect retail branding to take a back seat at Lowe’s as a result of its reorganization?