The CMO’s New M.O. – How Dana Marineau Is Building A Culture Of “optimism” At Rakuten

Dana Marineau, CMO of Rakuten Rewards

Courtesy of Rakuten

As an off-the-cuff sports activities fan, you might have seen the phrase “Rakuten” printed on the left shoulder of Steph Curry’s uniform, and should have puzzled “what’s that?” It would possibly shock you to be taught that Rakuten is without doubt one of the world’s largest on-line buying malls, with over 3500 retailer manufacturers and virtually 100 million month-to-month web page views.

This month I sat down with Dana Marineau, CMO of Rakuten Rewards, to higher perceive how her firm is spreading “optimism” by serving to retailers reward customers for doing what they do finest, store.
Soon Yu: How have you ever responded to all of the adjustments and transitions over the previous 12 months and a half — in your communities, together with your customers, and with your enterprise companions?
Dana Marineau: It has definitely been an interesting 18 months in our business, hasn’t it? The pandemic propelled the necessity for smarter and simpler buying. People weren’t going into shops; their wallets had been strapped. Our aim from the start was to assist present a simple, seamless on-line buying vacation spot the place they may discover every thing they wanted, plus uncover new manufacturers. 

We’ve labored laborious to assist make the web buying expertise extra dynamic. It’s a typical expertise to go to a retailer with a single buy in thoughts and go away with 20 completely different objects. That’s the type of discovery expertise we purpose to offer in a digital format. For instance, we hope individuals buying at Macy’s via Rakuten can even uncover that now we have excessive Cash Back charges at Nike, after which discover their favourite wine at, which additionally presents Cash Back. We are very proud to offer this sense of discovery, each for our members and our service provider companions.

We lately launched a brand new function known as Personalized Rewards that enables our retailers to pair their buyer knowledge with our first-party knowledge to create focused, hyper-personalized Cash Back presents. The internet affiliate marketing experience of our sister firm, Rakuten Advertising, makes this expertise frictionless for each the patron and our companions. 

On a private stage, a very powerful a part of these final 18 months has been the care and improvement of our crew. There are days after I really feel that, on high of my Marketing duties, I’ve additionally taken on the position of Chief Culture Officer. We’ve made it a precedence to proceed cultivating Rakuten’s unbelievable crew tradition. We are working to encourage and inspire our groups to return again to the workplace after they really feel protected and comfy and to create a way of neighborhood for many who select to stay distant. It has definitely been a really attention-grabbing couple of months, navigating these priorities and determining learn how to steadiness crew spirit with distant work.

Yu: How have you ever handled the social points we’re going through in the present day, and the way have you ever dealt with them together with your crew?
Marineau: We are always reinforcing how crucial it’s that leaders reside the corporate values and display what we stand for. Rakuten takes this very significantly, and our media investments replicate the beliefs and values we would like our workers to know we imagine in. Our CEO, Amit Patel, has taken public stances on points like Black Lives Matter, violence in opposition to Asians, and voting rights.

We settle for that now we have a duty to talk out on points essential to the corporate and our workers. We proceed to pay attention and be taught, to regulate our advertising and marketing to steer and match our viewers’s values, and to look at what we are able to do as an organization to have an equitable office that draws various expertise.
Yu: How have your organization values formed your response to those points?
Marineau: Optimism is ingrained in our DNA and instilled in every thing we do. In truth, the phrase Rakuten interprets to “optimism” in Japanese. The final two years have been a crucial time in our model’s story, and now we have made vital strides in our model evolution and voice. You can think about the idea of optimism has been instrumental for our workers, our companions, and our members. Everyone wanted an additional dose of positivity nowadays, and now we have purposefully injected uplifting messaging into our merchandise and advertising and marketing. I’m proud to say now we have constructed an unbelievable in-house inventive crew that simply launched our new marketing campaign, Rakuten Brings the Cha-Ching. This features a refresh of our visible model identification, an replace to our model voice, and our joyful new vacation spot.
Yu: How has your position as CMO modified within the final 12 months and a half?
Marineau: The “M” in CMO is evolving. For the longest time, the DNA of most CMOS leaned in direction of both Brand/Creative or Growth/Performance. That distinction does not exist anymore. Successful CMOs now perceive that advertising and marketing must be each significant and measurable. We should encourage individuals with nice storytelling and perceive learn how to optimize advertising and marketing efficiency. It’s not one or the opposite. 
In our case, our Marketing and Brand efforts replicate each of those ideas. People have heard of Rakuten, partially as a result of they’ve seen it on the Golden State Warriors and FC Barcelona jerseys, however I am unable to inform you what number of occasions individuals have stated to me, “I’ve heard of Rakuten, however I don’t actually perceive what it’s.” We have an enormous alternative to inform a brand new story for Rakuten. It’s our job to assist individuals perceive the worth of Rakuten and the way it can improve their buying expertise. This means now we have excessive visibility inventive belongings like TV and the jersey sponsorships to construct that significant consciousness, after which now we have very hard-working belongings that educate and drill deep into the advantages of our Rewards platform. We are always measuring efficiency and optimizing accordingly. The better of each worlds. 
Yu: How is the “new regular” altering the way you do enterprise or accelerating belongings you had been already doing?
Marineau: New regular continues to evolve for us. Like most different firms we had been pressured to create a fully-remote infrastructure in a matter of days. We had been very grateful for our distant work know-how to remain related to our groups and world community.
From a human standpoint, one among our high priorities has been growing and sustaining a robust tradition inside our groups. It’s very simple for a way of neighborhood to be misplaced when there are not any in-person interactions or “watercooler moments.” Leadership must confront the problem head-on, significantly as a result of it’s evolving once more as we begin to head again into the workplace. It was one problem when everybody was working from dwelling and collaborating by Zoom and Slack. Now, we have to reconfigure what collaboration seems like when a few of us are within the workplace and a few are working remotely. 
One of the issues we do to create widespread tradition is to carry a weekly “Coffee with Dana” the place individuals from completely different groups and dealing teams are invited for a digital espresso break and an off-the-cuff chat about something which may be taking place of their lives. These chats aren’t simply work-related. We speak about real-life milestones and challenges and be taught extra about each other than what we see in our day-to-day work.  
Thankfully, now we have opened a number of places of work for anybody who feels comfy getting in. Many of us have made it a behavior to start out getting in twice every week and now we have completely cherished it. I proceed to do “Coffee with Dana” just about however have now opened it as much as in-person for these within the workplace.  
We proceed to evolve our “new regular” each just about and in particular person. We have a enjoyable weekly Slack dialog known as Quaran-Theme the place we choose a theme and invite individuals to share one thing about themselves. This is something from a most embarrassing story to the final place we’ve traveled, to what TV exhibits we’ve been binging. On the in-person facet, we lately held a socially distanced summer time barbeque after which two fall Happy Hours. These occasions had been an enormous spotlight for me as a result of I obtained to fulfill so many superb individuals on our crew, in particular person, for the primary time. 
Yu: As you look out for 3 to 5 years, what’s subsequent? What’s on the horizon for Rakuten?
Marineau: We’re going to proceed to do what we do finest – innovate on either side of our enterprise. We are at all times attempting to enhance our member buying expertise to make it as simple and frictionless as doable. We purpose to have other ways to obtain and make the most of our Rewards and Cash Back and we hope so as to add 1000’s of latest shops so, it doesn’t matter what it’s essential to purchase, now we have it. On the service provider facet, we purpose to be a powerhouse efficiency advertising and marketing engine— bringing retailers new alternatives to attach and goal our prospects in distinctive and interesting methods.–how-dana-marineau-is-building-a-culture-of-optimism-at-rakuten/

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