IREU Top500 INTERVIEW: Decathlon's Kieran O'Shea on communicating sports to shoppers
The French retailer tries to talk to customers across different channels, says its UK PR and conversations manager Kieran O’Shea, interviewed in the first IREU Top500 Brand Engagement report.
Decathlon’s motto is “making sport accessible to the many” and in the UK, that’s the remit of PR and conversations manager Kieran O’Shea. He’s tasked with communicating the ins and outs of more than 70 sports for which shoppers can equip themselves for at Decathlon.
“We were once challenged on social media by a customer who asked if we could name the 70 sports that we sell,” he says. “I was happy to list them all.” In-store, the main departments are cycling, hiking, running and fitness but each has many divisions within it. Fitness, for example, includes karate, gymnastics and street dancing, while hiking includes camping and climbing. Those departments also frame the retailer’s focus on the content that it produces in order to engage its audience, whether that’s on its own blog, on the mum, family and sports bloggers that it works with, or on a wide range of social media channels.
InternetRetailing research shows that Decathlon, which has a home market in France, talks to its customers over 10 social media channels. On Facebook, it has 13 country-specific handles, using the local language for each. Its biggest Facebook following is in Spain where, at the time of research, it had 2.3m Likes. That’s followed by the Italian and French pages. On Twitter, it has nine country-specific feeds and again, its Spanish following is the largest, at 377,000.
In the UK, O’Shea’s focus is primarily on young families who enjoy sport together, alongside other key demographics such as couples who go camping, surf or take part in specific sports. “We work via a variety of different channels in order to reach them,” he says. Social media and the blog are elements of that work, while the retailer also invests in organic and paid search to promote different sports to different groups. Key to its work, says O’Shea, is staying focused. “We go in-depth with our retail marketing so that we can talk to the right customers with the right offers at the right time. You see many ads on Facebook that you know aren’t relevant to you – someone out there is paying for that to reach you but it’s not for you. The last thing I want to do is pay to reach someone who’s not interested. I avoid that by going in-depth in my targeting and making sure that what I’m serving to customers is what they want – so I’m not bombarding them with information they’re going to find useless.”
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