As the EVP and CMO at Curacao retail stores, Ariela Nerubay has been instrumental in driving the company’s business strategy, brand positioning, and online expansion efforts. Drawing from her extensive experience in entertainment, startups, and retail, she’s helped transform Curacao from a traditional retailer to a digital-forward brand experiencing impressive 10 to 30 percent year-over-year growth in both customers and sales.
With over 20 years of experience in marketing, Nerubay is an award-winning executive who specializes in targeting the multicultural consumer. She has worked with several esteemed brands, including Wal-Mart, Comcast, Allstate, Univision Communications, The Walt Disney Company, Fox Studios, and Sony Pictures. Ariela also serves as an adjunct professor at USC’s Marshall School of Business and Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism. She is also a member of the Board of Trustees at the Boys and Girls of America, where she is involved in the Impact and Youth of the Year Committees.
Joining us from her Long Beach, California residence, Nerubay answered Hispanic Executive’s most pressing digital marketing questions.
What are the most interesting marketing challenges and opportunities in retail marketing?
Our key goal is to create personalized experiences for our customers, both in-store and online. It’s an ever-evolving landscape that demands the utilization of cutting-edge technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML). These powerful tools are at the heart of our challenges and opportunities, as they enable us to gather valuable data on customer behavior, preferences, and purchase history.
With this data, we can craft marketing campaigns and offer personalized product recommendations that resonate with each individual shopper. This tailored approach not only enhances customer loyalty but also drives a remarkable ROI. Additionally, by harnessing the power of big data analytics, we can uncover valuable insights into customer trends and preferences across various channels and touchpoints.
At Curacao, we have been leveraging these technologies for over a decade to offer personalized financing options to customers. Customer data helped us create custom financing plans that perfectly match their needs and financial capabilities. This unparalleled level of personalization has contributed significantly to our success as a retailer, fostering customer retention, and unwavering loyalty.
We are also building models that predict customer purchase intent. We analyze a variety of data points, including second-party data, our own first-party data, social data, and website-browsing behavior. By understanding our customers on a deeper level, we can deliver more relevant and timely messaging.
These tools empower us to provide tailored experiences, harness customer insights, and drive sustainable growth. It’s an exciting time to be in the retail industry.
What’s one myth about multicultural marketing you’d like to debunk?
First, it’s crucial to dispel the assumption that all diverse groups share the same needs and preferences. Treating them as a homogenous mass not only misses the mark but can also be detrimental to effective marketing. It’s essential to take the time to understand and appreciate the individuality of each diverse group we’re targeting.
Second, language alone is not the be-all and end-all when it comes to connecting with diverse consumer segments. Cultural nuances, values, and traditions also play a significant role. We must go beyond mere translation and take the time to understand the cultural context in which our marketing messages are received. This creates campaigns that resonate deeply and authentically.
Third, it’s a grave mistake to assume that underserved multicultural audiences are not profitable customers. These audiences can represent an untapped market with immense purchasing power. Dismissing them as unprofitable is not only short-sighted but also a missed opportunity. For example, Curacao’s remarkable success can, in a large part, be attributed to its commitment to serving underserved audiences that were often overlooked by other companies. By recognizing the unmet needs of the Latino consumer, Curacao positioned itself as a pioneer and leader in the market, securing a dominant position for over four decades.
What are three key traits for hiring a great CMO?
Today’s CMO must be a dynamic and strategic leader, who embodies the following five vital traits that drive success:
- Insightful and Data-Driven: A great CMO builds their strategies on deep consumer insights, unlocking greater value for the organization. By creating programs to collect customer data and assembling a skilled analysis team, they gain timely and actionable insights that enable them to outpace the competition.
- Digital Marketing Expertise: A modern CMO fluently speaks the language of digital and social marketing, while still maintaining expertise in offline and traditional media. This mastery allows them to craft a seamless omnichannel experience, connecting with customers wherever they are.
- Customer-Centric: A CMO who places the customer at the heart of every decision, cultivates an engaged and loyal customer base. This approach leads to reduced acquisition costs and higher conversion rates, as customers feel truly understood and valued.
- Agile and Adaptable: A CMO who thrives in a rapidly changing landscape can pivot quickly, open doors to new opportunities, and stay ahead of the competition.
- Cross-Functional Collaborator: A CMO must seamlessly collaborate with other departments, acting as a champion for the organization’s delivery of the marketing promise to its customers.
You talked about disruptive technologies earlier. How can C-suite leaders prepare for the changes ahead?
The digital advertising landscape is undergoing a remarkable transformation, thanks to disruptive technologies that are reshaping how businesses connect with their target audiences. It’s an exciting time as AI and ML empower us to create hyper-personalized advertising campaigns, tailoring messages to individual preferences like never before. Meanwhile, virtual reality and augmented reality transport consumers to immersive worlds, delivering experiences that were once the stuff of dreams.
But that’s not all. Blockchain technology is revolutionizing digital advertising by instilling trust and transparency. With secure transactions and the eradication of deceptive practices like clickbait, advertisers can build credibility and foster genuine connections with their audience. The future holds even greater promise as these disruptive technologies continue to advance and become more widely embraced.
How am I preparing as a CMO? By building a marketing stack with the proper technology tools that enable my team to deliver the right offer, to the customer who has the highest propensity to desire it, at the right time in the buying cycle, via the right marketing channel on the right language.
What’s the number one advice you give to your marketing and communications students?
Adopt a mindset of lifelong learning. Completing your studies doesn’t signify the end of your learning journey. It is crucial to stay informed about industry trends, advancements in technology, and best practices. Embrace continuous education by actively participating in online courses, attending webinars, engaging in workshops, and networking events to broaden your knowledge and skills. By doing so, you’ll position yourself for success in this dynamic field.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.