People to Watch 2020: Alicia Crespin
Title: Senior Manager, Customer Marketing
Education: California State University of Fullerton (bachelor’s, business; focus on finance)
Alicia Crespin began her professional career while still in college, working at a boutique out-of-home ad buying agency and gaining experience on everything from planning to the execution phase. The diversity of campaign management, from a vodka company to a nonprofit, was not only fun, she says, but made her daily life very dynamic. “I had to switch my style and approach for each, and I loved that challenge.”
In 2011, after working for five years at that boutique shop (three of which came post-graduation), she wanted a change and accepted a customer marketing analyst position at Mattel, focusing on the Target account. “I immediately had this flashback of playing with Barbies when I was a girl, and I truly felt like I was fulfilling a dream.” Crespin has stayed in customer marketing – “it’s my niche,” she says – and today serves as a senior customer marketing manager. “I love that one hour I’m building strategic decks and the next I’m doing a costing analysis for Cyber Week.”
Her work consists of defining Mattel’s omnichannel strategies for Target and helping her team to build a plan against them. “One half of that is focused on analytics – using data and insights to build stories for Target to secure incremental assets – and the other half is focused on driving visibilities of these strategies internally to secure those stories,” she says. One of Target’s key strategies is diversity and inclusivity, so her team worked with the Barbie brand team to secure exclusive products and role models to support that initiative.
Driving visibility internally in terms of why Mattel needs robust, exclusive programs at Target is a key focus, Crespin says. “We need compelling, differentiated programs that consumers can’t find at Walmart or Amazon,” she says.
In 2019, the company was selected as “Vendor of the Year for Toy” at Target, confirming the reward that comes with driving programs that align to the retailer’s strategies. “It was a team effort – from forecasting to sales to customer marketing. We were aligned on the goals and executed top notch.”
Crespin points to individuals who have had a lasting effect on her career thus far. Lisa Martin, her hiring manager when she joined Mattel, was an inspiring mentor. “I was hired as an entry-level analyst as our company was starting to dip its toes in analytics,” she says. “I got to build what that meant, and she helped shape that. She molded me, taught me how to manage up, and put me in amazing positions to present to senior-level executives.”
Her current manager, Pam Velarde, has given Crespin the confidence and autonomy to do her job well. “She’s taught me how to be a people manager, which has been the most impactful part in my life and given me experiences that have upped my game, brought forth strategic thinking and also opened me to [being] the manager I would aspire to be.”
Her team now operates within a true omnichannel structure, following Target’s similar move about two years ago. It was the way to go then, and in light of the consumer behavior shifts that have taken place over the past several months during COVID-19, it is even more critical now. “Digital penetration is growing so substantially, and consumer behavior is changing rapidly,” she says. “We’ve been working with our Amazon counterparts to understand what works and what doesn’t, and just absorbing and learning to be a true omnichannel team.”
To be sure, even in the toy industry, Crespin and her team see the immediate need to continue elevating the in-store experience to ensure Mattel is bringing the ideas and testing initiatives that lead to that omnichannel experience. “The best thing we can do is listen to the guests, continuously do shopper studies and ensure we’re evolving based on their needs, in partnership with our retailers.”