Esabel ZhangTrade Marketing Manager



Making a long story short

Working at Rémy Cointreau since July 2011
Current position: GTR & EMEA Trade Marketing Manager
Based in Geneva
3 skills to work in your team: Being client centric, open-minded and love to try new things!

The challenges of GTR

What does your job as Trade Marketing Manager entail?
The trade marketing function itself is a bridge and interpreter between brand marketing, commercial and customers. My job is to develop marketing strategy for GTR EMEA in a regional and customer level to make sure it’s aligned with group/brand value yet adapt to local and to unlock any potential opportunities, e.g. digital, CRM, new market.

My function also includes a direct marketing management of 2 accounts in GTR EMEA: Heinemann & Dufry. I work very closely with commercial team to make sure full year marketing strategy is well planned and delivered from activation, merchandising to daily communication. The combination of detail account management and regional role helps me to have both micro and macro perspective to optimize strategy making.

I also have a brand marketing role for Metaxa and St-Rémy in GTR Worldwide to ensure I can deliver brand strategy directly into region as Metaxa & St-Rémy are 2 very crucial regional brands for GTR EMEA. I have a very small team, it’s always important to be open-minded to share ideas and make sure my team member can be motivated and coached.

The GTR sector has been severely hit by COVID. What lessons can you draw from this crisis?
Never stop looking for opportunities, trying and learning new things.

As global traffic goes up, can you share a few of your upcoming challenges or opportunities?
It’s been really exciting to see airports and duty free stores are getting busier again in EMEA this summer. Our opportunity is clearly to adapt our portfolio strategy according to traffic recovery. We used to be very dependent on cognac brands and Asian passengers, now with the faster recovery of European traffic, we have switched our priority from cognac brands to non-cognac brands. And we believe traffic will still be mainly led by European passengers in 2022. The agility we have is our opportunity to recover GTR business.

The second opportunity comes from GTR retailers. There are lot of restrictions in GTR channel in terms of the way we and retailers can work together. As a marketing person coming from domestic market, I was frustrated in the beginning to run into brick walls, especially in the development of digital. However with the COVID hit, I do see some retailers start to rethink the way they could approach clients to be more client centric and the major evolution comes from digital. This is definitely the big opportunity we are catching to increase our portfolio presence in different clients touchpoints.

Your journey at Rémy Cointreau

It has been a little over 10 years since you joined our Group. What appealed to you in the first place and what keeps you motivated today? 
I joined Rémy Cointreau as an intern 11 years ago. As a total newbie in both marketing and the industry, it’s just amazing to come across both as a fresh university graduate and get to learn every piece of marketing and the industry from scratch. After I finished my internship, I had the chance to continue my career in Rémy Cointreau and it turns out to be a good match.

What keeps motivating me is that I’ve had the chance to work with so many talents, to learn from them, and to witness how our brands have grown over the past few years in different markets. We’ve been launching cool campaigns, displaying innovation and most importantly we’ve kept our products at the highest quality standard. There is definitely bonding and pride from me to work with all the amazing products in the portfolio.

You have held various positions in the company in the field of marketing. Can you share your thoughts about internal mobility?
As a marketing person, no matter if it’s brand or trade marketing, I believe that the start point remains the same. It’s always important to understand who our clients are and what they are looking for in order to adopt the right strategy and approach. I spend lot of time asking “why” and “how” around, to be able to do that. Particularly in travel retail, different airports in one single country could have totally different client profile, it’s even more crucial to get back to basic to understand our clients.

The thing I like most working with our portfolio is its diversity; each of our brands has a strong identity. In GTR, we work with all the brands in our portfolio. There is always a role to play for our portfolio in different categories and to target different consumer profiles by various tone and manner. This amazes me all the time and makes my trade marketing role playful.

You moved from Shanghai to Geneva to join the GTR team. How did this work out for you?
I was ready for some changes back in 2018 after working in domestic market for 7 years. I was opened to opportunities within the group and then the role in GTR came! The whole move from Shanghai to Geneva went really smooth thanks to the amazing work HR has done. I didn’t need to worry about visa or paperwork (could be quite a headache) and apartment hunting was well assisted. I could say this is a huge relief when moving to a new country. Now I can easily have “fondue” in summertime, you can tell I have adapted myself quite well in Switzerland!

What would be your advice to someone who wants to follow the same kind of career within Rémy Cointreau?
Love what you are doing now and take ownership. Be opened to talk about your vision and career path with your supervisor and HR. Keep learning new skills. They will pay off.

Since her testimonial, Esabel has been promoted to Marketing Manager Global Travel Retail Worldwide.