Kiwi brings Westfield UK into digital age

Welcome to the third installment of our Export Figures series on NZers cracking the whip overseas in advertising and marketing. This week we meet Sarah Lukins, head of digital marketing for Westfield UK.

Sarah-Lukins_profileLukins left NZ in 1997 with an MA in Art History, and planned to do a two-year OE stint in Europe. Thirteen years later, she’s made London her home and loving it. She first worked in investment banking for six years before manoeuvring into digital marketing and landing a plumb role at Selfridges as web marketing manager. “In that role that I discovered that I enjoyed working in retail – with my extensive shopping habit I certainly had an affinity for retail marketing concepts!” says Lukins.

Two years later she joined High St fashion and homeware retailer Bhs as web marketing manager. One of her roles was to launch its eCommerce website.

westfield page

Since June 2008 she’s been at Westfield directing its digital marketing strategies. The company opened a shopping centre in Shepherd’s Bush a year ago with 265 luxury retailers; there are six other Westfields in the UK and another one on the way in Stratford City, adjacent to the 2012 Olympic Games venue.

westfield blog

Lukins manages the team that runs all of Westfield’s online activity including websites, blogs, email marketing and social media as well as in-centre interactive directories.

Here’s Lukins’ low-down on the future of digital marketing:

“Since June we have been building up our presence on social media as I see this as a hugely important means of connecting with our customers. We now have 28,000 Facebook fans – the majority are under 20 years of age – and although right now this group is not the biggest in terms of their spending-power, they are our shoppers of the future.

This age group have told us that they don’t really bother reading emails from retailers anymore, they like to consume their information via social media, particularly Facebook, so it’s important for us that we start to build a relationship with these customers now, using the medium they prefer.

The other digital marketing trend that gets talked about a lot in the UK is the potential for mobile marketing. Currently, there is still a perception from customers that mobile marketing is an intrusive nuisance. However, I do believe that once we have a significant percentage of smart phone usage in the market and genuinely useful time- and money-saving applications, consumers will start to use their mobiles for information on the go. I will be continuing to monitor this market and hopefully find the right mobile hook for Westfield.

Know any expats in the marcomms biz who can give us an update on industry trends overseas? Write to [email protected].

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