CMO50 2020 #23: Ryan Gracie

  • Name Ryan Gracie
  • Title Chief marketing officer
  • Company Catch Group
  • Commenced role July 2016
  • Reporting Line Chief executive officer
  • Member of the Executive Team Yes
  • Marketing Function 83 staff, 7 direct reports
  • Industry Sector Retail and ecommerce
  • 2019 ranking 22
  • Related

    Brand Post

    Doing a pitch in lockdown was certainly a first for Catch Group CMO, Ryan Gracie. With five agencies starting the process in March, Catch eventually selected AJF GrowthOps as the winning agency to deliver a significant body of work, all produced remotely.

    The ‘Everyday Aussies’ campaign featuring Justin’s Timber Rake, Camilla’s Pasta Bowls, Celine’s Dijon, Kim’s Car Dash Cam and Sylvester’s Cologne and launched nationally on 16 August 2020.

    “We worked remotely with four agencies, going through the entire strategy, ideation and creative process, appointing a winner and building all creative including 15 TV commercials, while sitting on a Zoom call. It was a new experience for all involved,” Gracie says.

    The COVID crisis has accelerated migration of consumers to online and Catch has been well positioned to capture that significant increase in demand. “When other retailers have struggled, Catch has never been busier and for this reason the energy levels in the entire team have been at full throttle,” Gracie says.

    Helping spur the team on is a growing understanding of the cross-pollination of brand and performance marketing and how both are interlinked. “We are in an age where brand building, on traditional channels can be viewed as 'old fashioned' by new marketers, there can be a view that 'if you can't explicitly measure it, then how can it be beneficial',” Gracie comments.

    “Our team is made up of scientists and artists, performance and brand marketers, and I want them to fully comprehend the intersection of these two disciplines and how one serves the other.”

    Innovative marketing

    It was already going to be a year of substantial change for Catch Group, which was acquired by Wesfarmers last August. When Amazon’s ex-VP of Global Marketplaces was appointed as the new Catch CEO in early May, Gracie was assigned the task of building out the group’s long-term customer value proposition.

    “In order to continue to challenge Amazon and ebay and to take share from these global behemoths, we needed a clearly articulated, documented and actionable customer value proposition that would serve our vision ‘to be the trusted place where Australian’s start their shopping journey’,” Gracie says.

    It was a three-month undertaking. Core to the CVP is a clear strategic playbook that will make Catch the destination for anything and everything Australian consumers want and need, outlining compelling, engaging and unique reasons to checkout Catch before they checkout anywhere else, Gracie says. 

    To fuel his proposition, Gracie referenced two pieces of commissioned qualitative research studies from a total of 5050 respondents, the most significant research undertaken in the company’s history. Combined with vast quantitative customer data, this provided valuable insights that would frame the CVP including brand awareness, key motivators when consumers choose to shop online, who they choose to shop online with, consumers perceptions of Catch across key pillars of value, range and experience, and where the brand wins, loses or draws against its competitors.

    Gracie says the outcome is a tangible, clearly articulated highly strategic roadmap of actionable initiatives that provides areas of clear focus. The CVP has been discussed and debated by the executive leadership team, undergone scenario and commercial modelling, scoped, prioritised and assigned to single-threaded leaders for execution, led by Gracie as CMO, the custodian of the customer.

    Business smarts

    Wesfarmers sees Catch as a key strategic pillar in its retail stable alongside Kmart, Target, Bunnings and Officeworks. And it’s looking to tap into Catch’s strong online retail and digital marketing expertise to benefit the whole.

    As part of the acquisition, a large strategic piece of work was undertaken over six months to realise this business ambition. Gracie was part of this team alongside Wesfarmers analysts, Catch’s CEO, CFO, CCO, CTO, consultants and advisors. The outcome, a highly detailed strategy and investment thesis, was presented to the Wesfarmers board and approved unanimously and unequivocally.

    “In conjunction with advising on the overall strategy across departments, my primary role within the strategy team was to model highly complex marketing mix scenarios and potential ROAS, customer acquisition numbers, customer lifetime value and loyalty drivers, and customer frequency forecasts that would inform the required marketing spend,” Gracie says. “I also conducted a marketing capability audit and new org structure with Trinity P3 as our partner that would see the team triple in headcount.”

    Data-driven approach

    Data and technology lie behind Catch’s marketing approach. A good example is recent work done to build users of its mobile app, the number one rated Australian pure play online retailer app in the Apple App Store (4.8 out of 5 star rating).

    “Our customers love to shop on our app, it makes up a large portion of our traffic and revenue per session is higher than on the mobile site. Customers also convert at a higher rate compared to the regular mobile site and have a higher AOV and LTV. For all of these reasons we use customer data behaviour to drive them to download and shop on our app,” Gracie says.

    Through a sophisticated lifecycle marketing campaign constructed across channels including email, SMS, Facebook, Instagram and onsite, Catch is able to use recency, frequency and monetary (RFM) data points to target and incentivise customers that do not yet have the app but have displayed behavioural indicators suggesting they could transition to its ‘champion’ cohort.

    Based on insight, Catch tripled investment in Facebook and Instagram app acquisition advertising, targeting Club Catch loyalty members, lookalikes of app customers and those that previously downloaded the app.

    “Through a strict process, we leverage customer data by matching profiles across external audiences, lowering our cost per install and growing our monthly active and daily active users,” Gracie says. “Through the collaboration of our data analysts, data scientists, social and lifecycle teams we have struck the balance between the cost of acquisition with the potential incremental sales profit and lifetime value to drive revenue growth on the app.”

    Customer-led thinking

    Being part of Wesfarmers, Catch is in a unique position to tap into and leverage this competitive advantage to create more value for the business and importantly, strengthen its CVP, Gracie continues.

    Now part of the Kmart Group, Gracie’s team are working closely with Target to offer better value to Catch customers. The first step was to build a 1000sqm Catch store within the Target Highpoint store. Gracie was responsible for the look and feel as well as broader communications.

    Secondly, Catch implemented the Target Click & Collect function on its site. This allows customers to order products from Catch and pick them up from eligible Target stores. Gracie took charge of building the marketing strategy, informing the design of the UX/UI throughout the purchase journey, and working with the Target store team to build comms and rollout broader marketing communication across all channels.

    During COVID-19, these teams have constantly worked to adjust messaging due to store closures and availability. The overall program has been a great success, with 9 per cent of eligible customers opting to pick up from Target.

    “Thirdly, we delighted our customers by allowing them to purchase over 8000 Target products from Catch by making Target a marketplace seller,” Gracie says. “We have implemented a significant marketing campaign across all channels to promote this partnership.

    “All of our efforts have led to very high customer satisfaction levels and despite the COVID-19 situation, an overwhelming increase in order volume, AusPost delays and customer anxiety, our overall business has maintained an industry-high CPS. The marketplace business has also increased year-on-year.”


    It’s clear human behaviour has drastically altered during COVID as consumers re-ordered their priorities and adjusted to a new way of life. To keep up, it was vital Catch pivoted its marketing strategy and tactics to reflect changing consumer expectations.

    “Catch is a warm, approachable, and down to earth brand, we are also ‘Aussie, just like you’ and we really wanted to amplify our personality,” Gracie comments. “At the beginning of the ‘lockdown’ period, we adjusted all language across our communication channels, including the website. Drastically reducing the ‘sales’ focus to a softer approach as people shopped more for their needs rather than their wants. It was important for us to be reassuring rather than loud and ‘screaming good deals’ at that time.

    “I adjusted our merchandising to reflect customer needs, to highlight their most searched for products, this was dominated by pantry, household and home fitness and elevated our delivery promise, the ‘we are here for you’ message. We are conscious of the varying degrees of lockdown across the country and we personalise and tailor our messaging across postcodes, ensuring we get the right message to the right people.”

    From there, Catch launched a light-hearted competition titled ‘Lockdown Laughs’, encouraging social followers to show how they were entertaining themselves during isolation via submitted videos. “The results were obviously hilarious, our audience was highly engaged, and it really played to our personality. We were able to use the content in ongoing campaigns,” Gracie says.

    Behind the scenes, Catch’s customer service teams were forced to work from home, disabling its phone lines. So it quickly ramped up chat and email capability.

    “The wellbeing of my team is always front of mind,” Gracie says. “They are very resilient, agile and they find themselves busier now than ever working under unique conditions. It has been the strength of this team that had us perfectly positioned to take full advantage of the COVID-19 tailwind and shift to online, leading to incredible growth that outperforms our peers.”

    While trust has certainly been a desirable brand trait during the crisis, Gracie says it has always been central to the Catch vision to ‘be the trusted place where Australian’s start their shopping journey’. To further this aim, the business recently struck a deal with the flybuys loyalty program, opening up 8.6 million members from 6.7 million households to rewards and points via its marketplace.

    “It made sense we form a partnership that will ultimately build trust and credibility in the Catch brand and build customer lifetime value (CLV) through growth of basket size and shopping frequency,” Gracie says. “The partnership aims to fulfil three key strategic objectives. To elevate the Catch brand and to acquire new customers, to increase customer lifetime value by driving shopper frequency and average order value and lastly to attract and retain suppliers who can tap into rewards points as an alternative to discounting.”

    Alongside the chief commercial officer, Gracie worked with the senior flybuys team on the overarching strategy, UI / UX and marketing strategy / execution, a six-month project that culminated in the integrated launch of Catch and flybuys on 4 August 2020 with a 10x points promotion.

    “This is a major milestone for Catch as we ascend into a leadership position. As the only online pureplay to offer flybuys points, we offer a unique point of difference for our customers and they have shown they love it,” Gracie says.

    As for what’s next, Gracie says he’s personally working to make sure Catch gets its data in a structure that fully demonstrates the causal effects of the channel of acquisition on a customers' lifetime value.

    “Knowing which channels drive the best lifetime value allows us to shift our marketing investment to the best long-term channels, rather than focusing on those channels that deliver the lowest cost of acquisition,” he adds.

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