Marketing Interview: Harminder Matharu, Charlotte Tilbury Beauty

As part of our Marketing Interview series, we spoke to Harminder Matharu, Charlotte Tilbury’s Global Performance Marketing Director, about the dynamic organisation, the relationships that are crucial to Performance, and the future of consumer habits…


UP: To begin, what are your responsibilities at Charlotte Tilbury and how are you measured?

HM: I have responsibility for Performance Marketing globally; this includes biddable channels, SEO, CRM & loyalty as well as broad digital marketing. Ultimately, I’m really measured against the revenue figures that arise from and the cost-effectiveness of acquiring these customers.


UP: You spent your early career at BT, how does that large, corporate environment differ from that of Charlotte Tilbury?

HM: The difference is vast. At BT I was in the unique position of working in a very dynamic team that shielded me from a lot of the bureaucracy of the wider organisation; this really ingrained the lean and agile methodology in me.

Charlotte Tilbury is a completely different beast. There is no legacy bureaucracy, no outdated hierarchies or management styles. Instead, we can quite literally make a decision in the morning and deliver it by the afternoon.


UP: Which are the key roles you interact with?

HM: My role requires that I work with almost everyone across the organisation, whether that be the Head of Brand, PR, Product or whomever. Across this range however, there are three places where I have the most conversations. The first is with the CFO, CMO, and CEO in weekly commercial meetings where KPIs are discussed. The second is with the CTO as Performance cannot be successful without a good technical infrastructure – my background in Tech and Product Management allows for really in-depth discussions here. And third with the dedicated eCommerce team as, from a trading and performance perspective, our relationship is crucial; we even sit together!


UP: Can you expand on this further, how do you work closely with the Tech and eCommerce teams? How does it manifest itself?

HM: Our relationship is very much one of a team, we’re always in conversation, whether that be weekly or bi-weekly, on how to create value-add deliverables. This very fluid way of interacting between departments and collaboration on projects from very different angles means that we really have to ground our arguments in a common, data-led language that we all understand. Data is extremely important in allowing our relationship to work.


UP: On the topic of data, is it a function in itself, or is it decentralised in the business?

HM: Each functional team has its own data capabilities, there’s not one central team. From this, all the findings are pooled for analysis by the senior leadership team. Because of this constant exposure to data, there are no reservations when it comes to investing in the right talent and data infrastructure.


UP: That leads on nicely to our next question: what is it that you look for when hiring great talent into your team?

HM: In order to succeed in Performance an individual needs quite a unique set of skills. Being data-driven and analytical is almost a given: it really is so key to the job and organisation that it has to be one of the first things you assess for. Combined with this, I really want people who are entrepreneurial, who can come up with big ideas and implement them into the business. More generally, I don’t just grade individuals on IQ but also EQ: they need to be the right cultural fit for the team.


UP: Finally, let’s end on a more blue sky question: what trends or changes do you think are emerging in Marketing?

HM: There are three topics here that I think are really important.

Firstly, there will be more of a demand for, and on, search, and by search. By this, I mean the ability to search for products, information, whatever, using engines and apps. Some of the biggest changes here will be in voice activated search (customers being more likely to stay with a brand if they use this method) and all-encompassing app experiences where the search, and all other facets, takes place within the app.

Secondly, and leading on from that last point, more immersive experiences will become an even bigger trend than it already is. Personalisation will be the main facet of this trend: driven by developments in AI and ML, customers will begin to have the expectation of being “known” almost instantaneously. In turn, this will transform the loyalty aspect of Performance.

Finally, and another trend that isn’t new but think will be huge is customer reviews, especially through video. With advertising nowadays, there seems to be an inherent distrust by the customer: “This ad might be great but is the product?” This extends to the use of influencers and social media personalities for advertising purposes who customers now realise take money for their endorsements. Customers trust other customers, and, therefore, I foresee a new type of search emerging where people can find a community with similar purchasing habits as themselves and read, or watch, reviews they’ve made of products.

InterviewCatherine Adams