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An Interview with Lars Lengler-Graiff

Market Intelligence Specialist, Multichannel Transformation Programme at IKEA Group

Within the IKEA Group’s Retail Services division, Lars Lengler-Graiff serves as the market intelligence specialist for the business’ multichannel transformation program. The aim of the program is to roll out ecommerce to all of the markets where the retailer operates.

Today, about 50% of the furniture and housewares retailer’s markets have ecommerce enabled. Lengler-Graiff is involved in a project that delivers a single customer view aligned with the consumer journey, which will support IKEA’s transition into a truly multichannel business.

While Lengler-Graiff has been charged with this role since 2013, he’s been with IKEA since 2007, having previously held a variety of marketing and research roles for the retailer’s unit in Germany.

What are your business priorities over the next 12 months?

Lars Lengler-Graiff: For myself and for IKEA overall, the challenges and the priorities are closely connected for both the multichannel and customer relationship management (CRM) programs.

There are some tough challenges when it comes to obtaining and providing intelligence for the Multichannel IKEA program, especially where it relates to a successful rollout of it in all of our markets.

Over the years, we’ve learned that there are various customer journey models. And when there is a cross-functional team or a cross-program team, it can be a challenge to align those models. For instance, where earlier models have changed, I’m then tasked with initiating the development of one IKEA consumer division journey. We call it the customer experience map. The actual development was led by the franchisor Inter IKEA Systems. I was part of the group that developed the map, and together with a research specialist from Inter IKEA Systems, I was responsible for the underlying consumer research. Rolling this out and anchoring it within the organization will be quite a challenge within the next 12 months.

I’m also tasked with developing a roadmap for ways of working with customer analytics in CRM. This is a crucial task within the CRM program, which includes developing principles and guidelines focused on digital ethics where it correlates to customer analytics.

How does eMarketer PRO help your business?

Lengler-Graiff: Multichannel IKEA had been around for roughly two years before I came into my present role. And at that time I found that the program lacked some expertise and knowledge of the developments in the digital world. We had assumptions from here and there, and of course lots of consultants coming in and bringing in good thoughts. However, a solid knowledge foundation accessible to the program co-workers was not in place.

With the support of eMarketer PRO, better knowledge is more widespread. The platform helps me pull out relevant information and trends. I’m able to include these into reports that I then distribute to the program’s management, steering group and co-workers to provide knowledge and insights on a regular basis.

How did you become an advocate for eMarketer?

Lengler-Graiff: As far as I can remember, the global market intelligence manager at IKEA forwarded me an eMarketer newsletter one day. I became familiar with the newsletter and ultimately downloaded a report. I then got in contact with eMarketer, which resulted in a conversation about my needs for the multichannel program. I ultimately expressed an interest in getting more information and knowledge.

Then the opportunity of getting an Open Access PRO subscription access came across, and so I had some negotiations with people internally to get buy-in. I was able to convince them that eMarketer PRO was worth the investment, and the IKEA Group took on the full subscription.

How were you able to get buy-in for it?

Lengler-Graiff: I recall having a test account where I pulled out data and put them into a presentation with different ways of displaying the information.

Our chief business navigator in the program, for instance, is always looking for data and information, especially where it relates to ecommerce. He’s also responsible for ecommerce forecasting. For my demonstration, I pulled out data from eMarketer PRO, exported it into an Excel sheet and gave it to my colleague. He was able to add this data to other sources to create an even richer and more informed forecast.

Another way I was able to convince people in my organization that an eMarketer PRO subscription would pay off was by making simple screenshots of the data from Excel. And then I held a phone conference with several stakeholders within the managerial program.

What are some of your favorite features?

Lengler-Graiff: It depends on the topic. Sometimes it’s a report that provides very useful information. Other times it’s an interesting link in a newsletter, where I’ve come across some stats that struck me and then invites me to dig deeper into that data.

One feature, which both personally for me and for IKEA as an organization that has not been used or taken advantage of the full potential is the Numbers section. I believe the Numbers section has a lot of potential to customize data.

Can you talk me through a recent specific use case where eMarketer PRO helped?

Lengler-Graiff: I use eMarketer quite extensively for digging out data regarding digital ethics in in order to set up a framework and guidelines to repackage and share with stakeholders.

For example, I recently used eMarketer data to enrich research to set a solid foundation for answering the question: How should digital ethics in the area of customer analytics be applied?

Along with the eMarketer insights, the overall report also covered the IKEA values and what is expected from the customers, as well as what is legally complaint and what we should give to the specific market or country’s business as guidelines when it comes to working with their customer data with analytics tools.

How do you make a case for eMarketer? Are you able to measure return on investment?

Lengler-Graiff: This is utterly difficult, and I have been reflecting on that. How could this be done? For example, within Multichannel IKEA, eMarketer is one important pillar in a whole portfolio of sources that I blend together when data and information is used. In that case, it’s hard to say OK, this is the actual contribution of the single source.

But on the other hand, I’m convinced that this better understanding, especially of the digital world that eMarketer provides, is an important source of information, knowledge and insights. It helps us to create the prerequisites to become more successful in the multichannel retail environment, and hence I am convinced that is the way I see this as an investment that pays off, even if I cannot state it by a number.

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Lars Lengler-Graiff

On eMarketer:

“The platform helps me pull out relevant information and trends. I’m able to include these into reports that I then distribute to the program’s management, steering group and co-workers to provide knowledge and insights on a regular basis.”


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