Selling points


9 minute read

Marie-Claire McGuffie is a Senior Campaign Manager at MECCA Brands, one of Australia’s largest premium beauty retailers, and is responsible for leading its integrated marketing campaigns.

In 2012, she graduated from the ANU College of Business and Economics (CBE) with a Bachelor of Business Administration. Subsequently, Marie-Claire has held several managerial and marketing-specialist positions with such diverse organisations as Treasury Wine Estates, Levi’s®, and Samsung, among others. 

In this interview, she gives us an insider’s view of developing marketing strategies during the COVID-19 pandemic, why consumers are the retail sector’s North Star, and how her CBE degree set her up for success.

Q. Can you tell us about your career path and what led you to the role you're in today?

Carving out a career in retail marketing has always been the path I’ve pursued, where I’ve prioritised being a marketer with diverse expertise. This means I’ve sought out experience across various industries and roles, in order not to be boxed into one particular marketing specialisation. 

As a result, I have foundations in branding, campaigns, experiential, advertising and public relations, as well as digital experience in customer-relationship management, loyalty, performance marketing and e-commerce. I’ve not only been in the trenches as an executioner but also on the flip side – strategising integrated marketing campaigns. 

I only stepped into a Campaign Management role for the first time with MECCA. It’s interesting, because I didn’t realise until I read the job description that this was what I had unknowingly been preparing for throughout my career. End-to-end management of campaigns relies upon experience across all stages of the marketing funnel and a comprehensive understanding of the marketing mix. My desire to be proficient in all aspects of marketing has made stepping into this role a breeze. 


Q. What is your view on the recent trends that blur the lines between beauty and wellness?

Health, wellness and beauty have always been intrinsically linked. We’ve all heard the saying ‘beauty from the inside out’. It’s probably only recently that we’ve started to see this emerging and being defined as a trend. It is now viewed in a more holistic light – emphasising inner wellbeing, as well as a healthy mind and spirit. At MECCA, we refer to it as ‘MECCALIFE’ – to be connecting with beauty in more meaningful ways – where it’s all about the self, not the selfie. 

Q. Can you talk about a campaign you were proud of?  

Working at Levi’s®, a company that is not only the birthplace of blue jeans but also a ‘profit through principles’ business, meant there was a rich history to draw upon. Activism and advocacy are stitched into the fabric of its culture. Levi’s® civil-rights activity can be traced back to the 1940s. The annual Pride campaign was always my favourite campaign period each year. It was a challenging one in the sense that while Pride and Mardi Gras are celebratory moments, there is still much work to be done; the finish line has not been reached and the community needs to be respected and supported, not commercialised. 

My final Pride campaign saw the creation of the Levi’s® Pride Phone Booth in Melbourne Central, which gave participants the opportunity to record messages of support, love and encouragement for the LGBTQI+ community. This initiative was inspired by the resilience and beauty of a community continually speaking up in the face of institutional injustice. Over the course of 10 days, nearly 1,500 calls were placed. These voicemails were transformed into a playlist on Soundcloud, representing a celebration of our differences and showcasing our shared humanity.

Q. What have you learned about adjusting marketing strategies during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Retail is perhaps one of the most fast-paced and ever-evolving sectors, where if you lose your focus, you’ll be left behind in an intensely competitive market. As a result, there is always a proactive and reactive nature to marketing-strategy planning. The pandemic has just seen the balance shift in favour of reactive. Being connected and close to the consumer remains as important as it has always been, so when faced with needing to adjust strategies, the consumer remains the North Star and continues to guide you.

Q. What can we expect to see next from the beauty industry?

I think we’ll continue to see seismic shifts in the industry, in particular how women, and increasingly men, define beauty and the role of beauty products in their lives. The democratisation of beauty will continue; fuelled by social media, where Beauty Editors at magazines are no longer the gatekeepers, but everyone is an editor and contributor. As Niacinamide and Hyaluronic Acid are now part of the everyday vernacular, the rise of consumer knowledge when it comes to ingredients will only deepen, and we will see consumers demand more from their products. Consumers will seek out brands they can see their own reflection in, be it in values, diversity or sustainability. Authenticity and authentic self-expression will be valued above all. 

Q. How did your degree at CBE prepare you for your career?

I always intended to be a marketer and I chose to do so with a business degree that comprised of a marketing major. Seeking to enter the retail and private sector, a commercial aptitude overrides everything else. There are still some marketing practices out there that contribute to the misconception that marketers ‘only know how to spend money’. The ability of a marketer to drive demand and deliver commercial outcomes is a skill that cannot be undervalued. And my degree at CBE, which covered both business and marketing, set me up for my success. 


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