“Where does marketing stop and digital marketing begin? At the end of the day, it’s all effective marketing” – Talking Digital with Claire Vanderstoel, Marketing, Salon & Consumer Divisions at Kao

What is the biggest challenge facing the digital industry and why?


For FMCG retail brands, the current challenge is ability to target and personalise effectively, with access to data via cookies reduced. If a brand doesn’t have its own direct-to-consumer channel it can be difficult to understand their behaviour and best influence their path-to-purchase journey.

Also, the integration of on- and off-line activities as the lines are becoming ever more blurred. E.g. digital outdoor panels, digital TV, newspapers online. Where does marketing stop and digital marketing begin? At the end of the day, it’s all effective marketing, just adapting the content and channel selection to best suit the audience and objective.


What excites you? What do you think will be the next ‘gamechanger’ in digital marketing?


Constant evolution and new ways to creatively engage with consumers. There’s never a dull moment and you never stand still and never stop learning in marketing! A good example is the influx of new social connectivity e.g. TikTok, where the consumer is the creator. But the core need is the same, to connect with the village and their virtual community.


What’s the most interesting digital campaign you’ve seen recently?


I just love the journey that AirBNB has been on, from a niche, grass roots room rental site, to an all-encompassing travel destination. How they have built trust and gained such a leadership position through great content and social proof has been exceptional.


What was your experience of working through the pandemic?


Kao has been an incredible company to work for through this time, prioritising the mental health of employees and continuing to adapt as the situation has unfolded. We moved immediately to a hybrid and flex-working model, tailored to the personal and professional needs of each individual. This has meant that I’ve been able to manage workload, priorities, team members and home-schooling in an effective way. We also responded with agility in our brand plans, changing focus and communication strategies to suit the situation.


What burning question would you like to ask other industry experts?


How are FMCG retail brands targeting and personalising effectively? How are they managing the balance of in-house vs. external expertise in managing brand communication channels?


Digital marketers often talk about the value exchange. Do you think consumers appreciate the concept?


Not that I’m aware of, no! I don’t think the consumer thinks that deeply about it; they will choose to stop and engage in something that disrupts or interests them, or that they are proactively looking for at that time.


What do you wish you’d known 10 years ago?


That I wouldn’t be able to just jump on a plane and be back in the UK in 24 hours, that our lives could be so greatly affected in such a short space of time. That resilience and agility are key in today’s world vs. long-term structured plans.


How do you manage work/life balance? How do you unwind?


I like to walk the dog listening to an audio book or podcast, I also do yoga a couple of times a week and love to relax on the sofa with a glass of wine and good English drama.



Which company or business leader do you admire most for their approach to marketing?


I am a huge fan of Mark Ritson and some of his thinking on marketing in today’s world. His comments are often controversial, but they certainly give good food for thought. I also love Simon Sinek, and his strategic plus positive approach to business leadership.

With special thanks to:

Claire Vanderstoel
Marketing, Salon & Consumer Divisions