HEMA use Google Marketing Platform to automate customer outreach and reduce waste with a digital brochure

May 2019

Dutch retailer HEMA launched an online brochure using Google Audiences and Google Marketing Platform Studio, increasing customer engagement and reducing their environmental footprint. Working alongside DisXT and agency partner Oogst, their automated, bi-weekly marketing strategy serves tailored messages to their customers.


With consumer behaviour shifting toward digital, HEMA needed to move away from relying on printed marketing materials to keep pace with their customers

New environmental laws have forced Dutch retailers to look for alternative methods of customer outreach

HEMA needed a new way to share their weekly offers and encourage visits to their physical stores


Bi-weekly digital campaign replacing previous printed promotional materials

Dynamic creatives built using Google Marketing Platform Studio

Targeted to individual audience segments using Google Audiences and additional signals such as device, location and time


An average increase in ROI of 32%

No significant difference in total revenue between stores that received a brochure vs. stores that were part of the digital replacement project

More than half of the stores that were part of the project had a average lift of 2% in revenue sales

HEMA opened its doors in Amsterdam in 1926. Set up by the owners of luxury department store De Bijenkorf, it sold affordable, quality homeware at standardised price points. Now an international enterprise, with branches in seven other countries across Europe, it leads the way in original design and is one of the most well-known brands in the Netherlands. With digital marketing becoming ever more central to success, HEMA realised that they needed a digital strategy as forward thinking as the brand itself.

The price of print

Traditionally, retailers in the Netherlands would send brochures to consumers on a weekly basis (known locally as a folder), but in evaluating their digital strategy, HEMA realised this practice needed updating. “The growing shift to screens means that our customer is online at any time, any place. So we need to be visible and relevant at any time, any place too,” says Adriana Hoppenbrouwer, CMO at HEMA.

At the same time, new laws on sustainability introduced in Amsterdam have banned paper brochures unless consumers ‘opt-in’ - a ban that is expected to soon extend to cities throughout the Netherlands. In searching for an alternative, HEMA realised that a new digital strategy could not only replace printed promotions, but might give the brand a reach that outstripped its competitors.

HEMA inline

Selling the strategy

One of the first hurdles HEMA faced was convincing franchise-holders and management that online marketing could have a tangible impact on in-store sales. To make their case, they used market data and store visit statistics to highlight that 2.5% of in store revenue was influenced by online marketing.

A boutique approach

HEMA worked with partners Oogst and DisXT to overcome technical barriers to success. The strategy required fully automating both targeting and frequency for individual audience segments, with 1500 dynamic creatives designed using Google Marketing Platform Studio. The next step was introducing the programme in selected stores for testing. “We chose 20 stores as a representative set, and didn’t distribute the promotional folder in these areas,” says Jelle Sybesma, Manager Digital Replacement at HEMA. “ Instead, we took the six largest promos from the folders and presented them in two banner formats, promoted by Display.” Alongside this, HEMA geo-targeted other campaigns via search, and waited for the results.

Taking Stock

Initially it became clear that the new promos had more impact in stores with higher income and more competition, so HEMA rolled out the test to all stores with these characteristics. They employed more tailored creatives for these audiences - baby products or lip gloss, for example - that might not have been relevant across the whole population. To achieve this, HEMA used Google Audiences to create 12 HEMA segments; in the future, they plan to enrich these with Customer Match to integrate first party data. “We will continue to tailor promotions to each individual, taking into account market conditions and local specifics (store inventories and facilities), aiming for ever greater relevance and flexibility” Jelle says.

"We will continue to tailor promotions to each individual, taking into account market conditions and local specifics (store inventories and facilities), aiming for ever greater relevance and flexibility"

– Jelle Sybesma, Manager Digital Replacement at HEMA

Power to the purchaser

According to HEMA’S research, the response from consumers has been positive. “We wondered whether our customers would miss the promotional folder,” says Adriana, “but people who used to read it have easily switched to online alternatives.” More importantly, she adds, consumers feel like they’re getting a promotion that’s more relevant to them, that suits their needs. “And we can approach the consumer via the most appropriate channel.”

The data supports this feedback, with test stores seeing an increase in marketing ROI of 32%. In high traffic stores, like those at railway stations, where the brochures previously played a less key role, the impact of digital replacement has been even greater. Stores are seeing the same level of sales, on average, but are achieving a higher ROI using a strategy that is built for the future, and better for the environment.

How Pixers increased conversions with smarter attribution and bidding