“If you want something badly enough, you have to work for it, don’t let anyone put you off”

Inspiring words from Claire Waugh (Vice President – Marketing, LEGO), our guest speaker for the passionate, interesting and hugely inspiring Business Studies lecture our Sixth Form pupils were treated to. We welcomed Claire who has a wealth of experience working at some very well known brands; Starbucks, Burberry, Jack Wills and LEGO. Having graduated with a 1st (Management Sciences) from Loughborough University, Claire talked through her journey to where she is today giving some tips and top lessons learnt to benefit everyone in the room. Claire emphasised the importance of failing to ensure you truly learn and really knowing yourself to ensure that you work for a brand that you are passionate about and want to protect.

Claire talked through her experience at all four brands emphasising the importance of carrying out purposeful and valuable market research, to fully understand the culture of the business and to protect the brand image – getting people talking about the brand (the most powerful form of promotion). Everything mentioned by Claire was gold dust to our students who heard about Starbucks’ major expansion and growth in the UK during Claire’s 10 years with the brand; from 87 stores in the UK to over 600 confirming this strategy was the only way to gain market share. It was incredibly interesting to hear how Starbucks ‘premiumised’ and created a new market which ultimately changed behaviours of people in the UK. She talked about product innovation, helping to create the infamous ‘Frappucino’ and understanding their target market to ensure that they could create awareness, interest and ultimately loyalty. Brilliant examples were highlighted to the pupils’ referencing ‘disruptive marketing campaigns’ such as the well known ‘names on cups’ which got people talking about the brand and enhanced visibility, contributing to a 15% increase in sales overnight!  

Whilst working as the Marketing Director for Burberry, Claire identified the importance of the well known and referenced model – Ansoff’s Matrix embarking on a diversification strategy and developing the Burberry Beauty brand. Whilst identifying that they didn’t initially make a profit, she emphasised the importance of this strategy to boost sales at Burberry. By entering into the beauty market, consumers were able to get their hands on a small piece of the luxury brand to gain market share at a much lower price point. Two of our lucky students; Harry G. was able to guess the average price of a Burberry Trench Coat (£1,800) and Ben J. a Burberry lipstick to win themselves a LEGO set.

Claire’s time at Jack Wills was arguably one of the most interesting experiences to highlight to our pupils explaining what caused Jack Will’s demise. Whilst she thoroughly enjoyed her time at the brand she identified the importance to stay true to your target market and not over expand and target a new segment. They tried to reinvent themselves and lost market share as a result. Claire was able to explain to the pupils that by discounting clothes in stores as part of a very eye-catching sale this signals that there are problems behind the scenes. Ultimately Jack Wills very quickly hurt their profit, margins and brand.  

With 25,000 employees LEGO’s scale is unimaginable – 900 stores with over 1 million visits each day. For many years, LEGO’s presence was merely in department stores and they had not yet expanded their distribution network. However, this has since changed and Claire also talked about the cause of their triple digit growth during COVID as the LEGO craze and fever hit the adult market with celebrities publicising their love for the household brand. Relaxing, mindful and therapeutic, it was clear that LEGO was serving another purpose other than just building blocks for children. Some of our pupils were inspired to think of their own LEGO creation to take advantage of the ‘LEGO IDEAS’ whereby you post your idea and if this post gets 10,000 likes, LEGO will make the product. Despite LEGO’s ongoing and unrivalled success there are challenges for the brand and Claire is still keen to target the under-represented girl segment who are currently responsible for just ¼ of the sales. She highlighted the issues regarding the laws and government in place to block the access to data and identified the challenges around sustainability.  

Claire’s talk finished with an opportunity for our students to ask a series of thought provoking questions and Claire was brilliant in answering these, ensuring all of the pupils left the room with an enhanced understanding and passion for the subject. We are hugely grateful to Claire for giving up her time to support our pupils and talk so passionately about her time in Business. I am certain that this will have given many of our students a real sense of drive and motivation as they progress with their academic studies.