Andy Austin, a thought leader in high-touch retail who oversaw groundbreaking tech rollouts at 2,200 AT&T stores nationwide, has joined brand agency CBX as its new Group Director of Experience Technology.
“Andy is a veteran of the wireless and consumer electronics industries who has spent more than a decade at the creative intersection of retail and technology,” said Gregg S. Lipman, CEO/Managing Partner. “While Andy is a tech insider, this is about more than adding technical expertise. As both Andy and CBX see it, in the branding context, technology is useful only insofar as it drives a broader strategy — namely, one that sparks meaningful conversations with and among consumers.”
Austin, whose client list as an independent consultant includes the likes of Audi, JCPenney and Ford Motor Co., formerly helped AT&T pioneer customer-centric stores as the company’s Director of Retail Customer Experience for 10 years. The senior-level position involved rolling out a raft of smart, customer-facing technologies — including the first worldwide launch of the award-winning Microsoft Surface. Over the course of his 20-year career, Austin also held various sales and marketing positions for companies such as MCI/Worldcom, Verus Technology Solutions and Caesars Tahoe.
At CBX, Austin and his team of developers, designers and engineers will use technology to create more meaningful exchanges between brands and customers through human-centered experiences. “These experiences will enable brands to invite conversations, drive engagement, and deliver value,” Austin said. “That is essential today, because attitudes are changing. Consumers are in charge of the buying process. They want to have conversations with brands and each other.”
The goal, Austin noted, is to create experiences that surprise and delight consumers to such an extent that they remember and strongly identify with the brand. “This is about things like emotion, eye contact and mirror neurons — the traits that make us human,” he said.
Bringing this vision of conversation-based retail to life can therefore be as much about salespeople and human interaction as it is about nifty apps or digital displays, Austin explained. “There is a reason for brick and mortar retail to continue to exist,” he said. “By creating a conversation-rich journey in which the consumer is in the driver’s seat, you empower your sales force. That, in turn, makes them more effective, and enables you to actually raise sales quotas.”
CPG brands, too, can cement customer loyalty by taking a conversation-based approach to brand building, Lipman added. “Moving forward, Andy and his team will be applying these proven, high-touch retail solutions to current and prospective clients,” he said. “We are thrilled to have Andy on our team as we continue to explore the effective use of technology in our very human world.”
CBX specializes in creative marketing services including: branding, retail design, packaging, naming and promotional programming. The company, with its current staff of more than 160 employees, was founded in 2003 and has a client base that includes: Dr Pepper Snapple Group, General Mills, Kimberly-Clark, Big Heart Pet Brands, A&P, Pathmark, Saks Fifth Avenue, Lord & Taylor, Shinsegae, Walgreens and Wawa. In addition to its New York City Headquarters, CBX has offices in Minneapolis, San Francisco and Austin. www.cbx.com