Keeping David Jones 185 Years Young With CMO James Holloman

Keeping David Jones 185 Years Young With CMO James Holloman

Staying relevant as an 185 year old legacy brand isn’t without its fair share of challenges. But last Wednesday, at Advertising Week, CMO James Holloman shared with the audience what exciting developments are coming in their brand evolution. We had the privilege of speaking to Holloman to discover more about what’s in store for David Jones.

How did you strike a balance between preserving the brand’s heritage and embracing innovation for the next stage of its life?
In terms of reimagining the brand, it was actually really easy, because once you delve into the archives you can see that we were always influential innovators.

Whether it was the 1800s, pre-war times, or during the fashion heyday when Christian Dior would come to Australia. We even hosted the Queen’s Royal Banquet on our seventh floor when she did her first Royal Tour. 

So, it wasn’t a matter of discarding the past for the future; the brand’s DNA had always been revolutionary for its time.

What were some of the bolder decisions you had to take in reshaping the David Jones brand over the past two years? What was the result?
Our digital transformation was critical. So we really backed the fact that we needed to develop our online omnichannel journey. We’ve evolved our thinking from just being a bricks-and-mortar store or an online store to a full omnichannel experience. Now, it’s totally possible for our customers to access our full assortment through options like click and collect.

Can you expand on the role tech and digitalisation will play in David Jones’s reinvention?
We have an incredible roadmap for the future. We don’t have all the answers right now but we do have the tech partners and the right kind of thinking so we can tackle it step-by-step through prioritisation.

First-party data is a really interesting area that we need to be doubling down on. It allows us to deliver great personalised content and experiences for our online customers, but also helps create a better shopping experience for those who come into our stores. Then of course with this data, we can communicate with customers based on their interests and provide them with relevant assortments.

How do you keep abreast of changing customer trends and go about incorporating them into your brand strategy?
We have an exceptionally on-the-pulse insights team that travels regularly (subtracting the pandemic years) to the US and Europe, so we get a full understanding about changing customer trends from our core international brands. Fashion is always on the edge of Zeitgeist, what’s new, and what needs to be focused on; diversity, inclusion, materiality, and circularity. We’re fortunate to have incredibly rich, interesting data that can help us shape what the brand’s future needs to look like.

It’s amazing to see the really cool, up-and-coming brands that you’re engaging with. However, I think there might be some misconceptions about department stores in general being for older demographics. How do you see this changing?

I love this comment because, only in Australia! In other places like Selfridges in London, Beaumarchais in Paris, and Saks in New York, the department store is the epicentre of fashion and cool. Our job is to bring that  back to Australia. We believe department stores are not just for the older, more mature customer or for people looking for the same products. Which is why we’re so proud of our merchandising strategy which ensures we have fantastic new brands exclusively available at David Jones.

Finally, looking ahead, what excites you the most about the future of David Jones and its potential to continue “inspiring like no other”?

One of the most exciting things that completely relates to the market is our retail media, David Jones Amplify. It will be a standalone media business within David Jones, giving brands the opportunity to advertise to our incredible customers and access our in-store and publishing assets, both physical and digital. That’s incredibly exciting because everything will be linked to the customer journey.

What also excites me about “inspiring like no other” is our service philosophy. We’re looking to elevate it in the coming years by utilising digital. From booking styling or beauty appointments to personalised customer interactions based on preferences, digital will enable us to deliver an incredible level of service.

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