He put the company’s annual turnover at $1.2 billion, of which $450 million is trade.
Elliott says that with New Zealand’s relatively small population, unaddressed mail is still relatively effective, but digital and social media channels are working particularly well for Mitre 10.
Elliott expressed concern about future competition from American ecommerce company Amazon, mentioning Deka as a cautionary tale. The now-extinct store used to be the third-ranked retail brand in New Zealand.
The hardware sector sees a high degree of brand promiscuity, Elliott says, with 74 percent of potential Mitre 10 shoppers saying they would happily shop at competitor Bunnings Warehouse.
Consumer awareness of all Mitre 10’s competing brands is fairly high, but preference ranges from 1 percent to 26 percent. Customer preference for Mitre 10 sits at 26 percent, while 19 percent of customers rated Bunnings as their top preference.
Another hurdle Elliott identified was that half of Mitre 10’s customers “leave for good” every year as they finish renovation projects or other jobs.
He described a 14-week delay between an idea for a project sparked in the customer’s mind by a TV ad, and their execution of that project: “We access home improvement as a series of projects.”
Elliott also spoke about the coming change in population demographics, which are flattening out as more Kiwis age. “What’s that going to do with the way people interact with our brand?” he asked. “Retailing is a response to culture.”
Moving on to social media, Elliott said Mitre 10’s Facebook page has high engagement. This is the only metric he cares about: “If you don’t want to talk to me, then what’s [a like] worth? Nothing.”
More than 191,000 people have liked the page, and new posts go up regularly. On a recent post asking people to share their weekend DIY projects, over 40 people responded with pictures and information.
Elliott says this branded experience was put together to combat high brand promiscuity. Each Sunday request for pictures usually gets around 50 responses, which can then go on TV, where they spark further ideas for projects in other customers.
Mitre 10 occasionally uses social media to make buying decisions – Elliott spoke of rug sales going up 45 percent after a Facebook giveaway which asked readers to choose which of two rugs they preferred.
YouTube is also working well for Mitre 10. Every day, Elliott says, 11,0000 people watch the Easy As DIY videos.
Next year, Elliott says, Mitre 10 will be going further in this area. He described the company’s digital mission as: “to make Mitre 10 the first choice digital destination for home improvement in New Zealand.”
From the company’s surveys, it found that 55 percent of customers had had at least one digital encounter with Mitre 10 before making their purchase.
Achieving engagement is the new challenge, Elliott says, and innovation and creativity are the new drivers. He was confident about the future of Mitre 10’s owned media channels: “If paid ads become more expensive, we’ll just drive up more of our own.”
He says in future marketing, Mitre 10 will still use traditional channels where they pay well, but not where they don’t.