Vineet Mehra

Stephen White, JD Sports'’' Global CMO

Stephen White, JD Sports' Global CMO

Purposeful Marketing


Like us on Facebook

See the current issue
of The Internationalist magazine

Find out how to sponsor an issue of Trendsetters





Tumblr Email LinkedIn Facebook Twitter


Trendsetters: Stephen White, JD Sports' Global CMO, Asserts that Retail Can be Vibrant

Ask Stephen White to comment on the "retail apocalypse"—a term now espoused by many news organizations to describe brick-and-mortar store closings and the impact of Amazon's vast inventory and fast delivery—and he'll tell you: "Reports of retail's death have been greatly exaggerated."

As Global CMO of JD Sports Fashion, an imaginative and fast-growing UK-based retailer that's expanding globally to become the largest fitness fashion retailer in the world, he believes that the physical store and a brand's digital potential should be in harmony.  Stephen White also works to ensure that the company is embracing technology to power marketing.  

Speaking at an Internationalist Think Tank on Marketing and Technology hosted by SAP XM at New York's Hudson Yards, he shared with a CMO audience how JD has created global consistency with local authenticity by focusing on the end consumer and "re-humanizing" tech. 

JD energetically pioneers innovative applications of advanced technologies to enable unprecedented capabilities that drive bottom line successes.  The retailer has exceeded financial expectations in an extremely challenging market.  JD works to clearly differentiate its Sports Fashion brand from competitors, galvanizes the support of the leading sports brands in sports fashion, and understands the significant potential of international expansion, particularly as "athleisure" sportswear-- that's worn beyond the gym--gains momentum. 

Critical to JD's marketing strategy and data capabilities is their "Window on the World" initiative, which White describes as "the use of social-retail for dynamic ‘sense and respond' capabilities in real time." This involves thousands of employees observing live, in-store shopper preferences to identify patterns and trends.  They'll often capture images, upload them to the cloud, where they're shared and analyzed as JD searches for insights about customer choice, behavior and response to merchandise, displays and activities.

Additionally, the company employs "Rapid Response" marketing with an advanced cloud-based platform to significantly improve speed, efficiency, flexibility, and intelligence in campaign planning and execution.

Stephen White also believes in creating immersive live activations—which are often a blend of performance theater and live fashion shows set to the pulse of a popular DJ-- to engage customers in unique shopping experiences, so they might become JD's best, and most genuine, advocates, particularly on social media. He emphasizes that the physical stores are at the center of creating and fueling the retailer's digital image.  At the same time, this digital footprint serves to amplify and propagate JD's physical spaces.

Interestingly, this also translates to creating an authentic connection with a community. JD sees this as the heart of their purposeful marketing as they often become champions for specific community needs and outreach.

A recent example of the retailer's approach to marketing occurred during London Fashion Week this September.  Model Hailey Baldwin partnered with Adidas and JD Sports to create Streets of EQT, a secret, off-schedule fashion show in trendy Shoreditch to celebrate street style.  The runway featured JD Sports customers, as well as celebs like Rafferty Law (son of Jude Law and Sadie Frost) and Vivienne Westwood's granddaughter Cora Corre.

JD customers also had the opportunity to sit in the front row of the show, alongside the fashion press and buyers.