How Klarna managed its brand launch in a pandemic

Launching into Australia at the start of the year, the fintech unicorn suddenly found itself needing to overhaul its marketing in the wake of the coronavirus crisis

Klarna, the buy-now-pay-later fintech outfit, had just launched in Australia with its global campaign, ‘Get What You Love’, featuring Lady Gaga, when the COVID-19 pandemic broke. 

Klarna Australia general manager and domain lead, Fran Ereira, told CMO it had to be really nimble about reinventing its brand launch. The small, innovative team pivoted and reshaped its brand-building activities to reflect the new market.

“It’s been an incredible 100 days since the launch in January, a time that has forced us all to reflect on our priorities and how we view the world,” Ereira said. 

Like all companies, Klarna has been impacted by the pandemic, but it quickly shifted to working from home and its operating model means it’s business as usual. The marketing execution takes a bit more adjusting.

The fintech needed to reinvent its approach from a heavily out-of-home (OOH)-focused, experiential campaign to more targeted and digitally oriented tactics. Ereira said it’s serious about delivering a positive financial wellness message to the market and its focus “is to support Australian businesses and give them options to keep generating sales and helping consumers spend mindfully to be able to buy the things they care about from quality local brands”. 

Klarna is working with partner, Commonwealth Bank, and has several campaigns in the pipeline including supporting the #WeWearAustralian campaign. It has also partnered with former fashion magazine editor, Kellie Hush, as a local content editor.

In addition to the impact of everyday restrictions, there's been the added challenge of launching a new brand to market. “We’re still educating Australian consumers and retailers about the benefits of Klarna because we want them to thrive and survive after the pandemic," Ereira said.

"Despite the challenging environment, we’ve had solid momentum with an exciting pipeline of great brands, which we can’t wait to share."

Responding to the COVID-19 pandemic has meant more consumers are staying in. This has been a boon for online retail and presented a unique opportunity for Klarna. Ereira this was counterbalanced by shifting attention to helping consumers be mindful with their money and buying quality items while promote its local retail partners in its marketing efforts.

“People are obviously spending a lot more time at home and shopping online, which is a great opportunity for us,” she explained. “Many consumers are spending about 30 minutes on the app and they are exploring, creating collections, checking out the deals and nominating price notifications on the things they love or aspire to own.”

Klarna's platform represents a bigger a shift in retail, which is putting greater payment choices into the hands of consumers. Gone are the days when consumers simply paid outright or with credit. The buy now, pay later options are giving shoppers many more ways to pay for things on their own terms. 

Ereira said Klarna knows consumers are demanding more transparency, flexibility and intuitive services and it wants to meet that demand head-on. It believes flexible payment options are not about encouraging overspending but helping to balance payments.

Klarna’s research data of Australian consumers shows 40 per cent of consumers are more likely to shop with a brand or retailer that offers flexible payment options. This rises to one in two for Gen Z (48 per cent) and Millennials (49 per cent).

"There is a major opportunity to deliver a payments option unlike any available in Australia,” Ereira said.

Looking ahead, Ereira predicted retailers will need a new arsenal of strategies to stay competitive in the new environment of increased competition with market uncertainty and fluctuating consumer spending.

“Brands need to ensure their marketing plans address the changing needs of consumers and deliver messages in the places their customers are spending time,” she added.

Follow CMO on Twitter: @CMOAustralia, take part in the CMO conversation on LinkedIn: CMO ANZ, follow our regular updates via CMO Australia's Linkedin company page, or join us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CMOAustralia.

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