Why Brands Should Dial up the Human Factor in Marketing  

As Zalando launches its holiday campaign dedicated to human connection, Zalando’s SVP Marketing and Sales, Barbara Daliri, shares her tips for building deeper connections between brands and customers


1. Human connection is the theme of this year’s holiday campaign. What role does connection play in Zalando’s marketing strategy?

For me, a good place to start your marketing strategy as a brand is to ask yourself two questions: What role does the brand play in my customers' lives? And how does it make their lives better? Once this is clear, we can tell the brand’s story. The main challenge is to make it relevant to people and their lives. Ideally, you give them an opportunity to become part of the story through social and interactive formats. This principle shapes our marketing strategy at Zalando. Our ambition is to win users’ hearts and minds with relevant content and stories our customers can identify with. This integrates with Zalando’s vision to become the Starting Point for Fashion in Europe.  


2. How did the pandemic impact your 2020 marketing plan? Did you have to make drastic changes? 

In the beginning of the year we revamped our strategy to place a strong focus on integrated, social-first marketing. We made a conscious decision to move from traditional fashion campaigns to fashion stories about real people. We aim to truly understand what drives our customers, and connect with them where they are: on social platforms. This approach serves us well this year, even under its extraordinary circumstances. But like everyone, we had to make some more spontaneous adjustments as the pandemic hit. We shortened our planning phases and adopted a more flexible approach to react to our customers’ different circumstances in our 17 European markets. And we dialed up the human factor in our initiatives. As a result we produced several formats our customers really liked, such as:


  • #StyleDayFriday -  an interactive social-first format about dressing up at home, launched in the first week of April and spanning over several months. 
  • #TogetherIAmStrong - our first entirely remotely produced sports campaign focusing on staying fit at home and maintaining a sense of togetherness in isolation. 
  • #ChangeNeverEnds - a social-first campaign where we asked our community to share their stories of change with us, which we reenacted in short films starring Patricia Allison. 
Barbara Daliri, SVP Marketing and Sales at Zalando

3. You joined Zalando about a year ago, after twelve years at Google, Netflix and Microsoft. Are you still taking away new learnings from this year?

I think this year has been a great professional challenge and initiated a steep learning curve for even the most seasoned marketing professionals. A lot of the trends which we have been talking about for years - digitalization, agility, customer centricity - have quickly accelerated in the past months. My main take-away is that every marketing opportunity should be treated as an opportunity to build a more engaging brand. Marketing stories should never be created in a vacuum, we need to understand what drives our consumers. Only then can we create content that resonates with them. Our priority for 2021 is to continue developing our brand narrative to create a unified brand experience across all platforms and become a truly loved brand. We want to focus on consumers who are genuinely interested in fashion and engage with them in multiple ways, including our own social brand channels.