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Case Study: Chalhoub Group Edge

"As soon as we met SmallWorlders, we knew they had what we wanted. They are marketers themselves, they’re marketing intranet experts, and the SandBox CMS has almost everything we need. And if it doesn’t, they create it."

Sarah Cousin, Marketing Specialist, Chalhoub Group

Chalhoub Group's Edge Homepage

Chalhoub Group's Edge Homepage

Collaborating in the Middle East

The Chalhoub Group has a mission: to be the best marketing organisation in the Middle East. Specialising in the retail and distribution of luxury brands in 14 countries, the Group aims to become the region’s recognised leader, expert and innovator in the marketing of luxury goods.

Reaching that goal means getting the whole marketing team working together, sharing successes and best practices, and staying abreast of trends in consumer demand and marketing techniques.

But when marketing personnel are dispersed across many countries, working for different Group companies on different beauty, fashion and giftware brands – and on activities as diverse as visual merchandising, PR and advertising – it’s hard to get that cohesion.

The problem: bringing everyone together effectively

Before 2012, the Chalhoub Group took a traditional approach to information-sharing. Around 70 senior marketers would attend an annual learning event to hear about the latest best practices, successes and research into regional and local markets.

But this information soon became old, and was often displaced by day-to-day concerns before it could be cascaded down to local teams. And a lot of great information from individual countries and Group companies never got shared at all – because there was no mechanism for it to happen.

The solution: a team dedicated to enabling innovation

In 2011, the Group created a new Marketing Innovation division with a remit to unify the marketing operation around three key principles:

  • Community:

    Get everyone interacting, sharing ideas and successes, and networking with colleagues across the Group.
  • Information:

    Make sure everyone has access to information that will help them do their job better, including research reports and data on the Group’s customer base and market landscape.
  • Inspiration:

    Give people a glimpse of future possibilities, through reports on new marketing innovations and emerging trends gathered by the Group’s intelligence team.

To make this work, the Marketing Innovation team needed to create a central hub – one place to go to get information, share information and network with colleagues. The EDGE project was born.

"Everyone is amazed at how quickly we got the site live, and amazed by its potential. We’ve had very, very good feedback from general managers and the individual Chalhoub companies."

Sarah Cousin, Marketing Specialist, Chalhoub Group

EDGE: a single information and collaboration hub for nine countries

From the start, Chalhoub wanted its marketing intranet to be dynamic and interactive, not just a static repository of information. It needed to be visually stunning, to appeal to the Group’s style-conscious marketers. And it had to be rolled out quickly: senior management wanted it up and running in a matter of months.

Enter SmallWorlders, and our SandBox platform for building fabulous marketing intranets. Working with Chalhoub Group marketing specialist and project manager Sarah Cousin, we built the EDGE intranet to Chalhoub’s specification in just four months – going live in March 2012.

Already, EDGE is being used by 700 marketers in nine countries to download and upload information, find out more about colleagues across the region, and ask questions to senior marketing executives.

There were challenges to overcome: the poor quality of many network connections in the Middle East means lots of people can’t easily upload content to the site. And it’s hard to make it relevant to everyone – from in-store visual merchandisers to brand teams working on implementing global campaigns.

And then there’s the shock of the new: the Group has never had a collaboration tool like this before, so it’s meant a process of education – through in-country roadshows – to help everyone understand its potential and start using it on a daily basis.

Early indications show the intranet is hugely popular. The objective for launch week – to have 70% of marketing employees logging into it – was easily achieved. Shy at first, people have now started to comment and interact as well as viewing and downloading content. The latest reports show that half the workforce registered at least nine visits and consumed, on average, 16 content posts.

There are already plans to extend it by adding e-learning capabilities and other features suggested by users.

It’s early days, but it looks as though EDGE will be playing a key role in helping the Chalhoub Group achieve its goal of becoming the best marketing organisation in the Middle East.