Kmart general manager of marketing departs

Laurie Lai departs after 13 years developing the retail brand and contributing to its turnaround strategy

Kmart’s general manager of marketing, Laurie Lai, has left the retailer after 13 years to pursue her next professional challenge. 

Kmart is busy sorting a replacement for Lai, who gained respect for marketing the budget retailer to become a popular brand and was part of the team that has driven greater sales and profits from 2015.  

“I am very lucky to have had the opportunity to get involved in the Kmart turnaround journey and see how the brand has evolved to become one of the most loved brands in Australia,” Lai said. 

Lai joined Kmart as customer insights and loyalty manager in 2008, a position she held for five years. During this time, she established the research and customer data analytics team that led to the insights and strategies that helped renew the brand.

Lai became Kmart’s national communications manager for Australia and New Zealand before becoming general manager, marketing communications and customer insights in October 2017 then GM marketing in January 2019. Prior to joining Kmart, Lai was head of marketing for the food division of A.S Watson and graduated from University of Hong Kong.

Lai told CMO she was proud of the contribution she has made to the successful turnaround journey of Kmart. Under the leadership of Kmart reinvention chief, Guy Russo, Kmart saw sales increase from $4.2 billion in 2014 to more than $6 billion by 2018 as it differentiated itself in market by focusing on lowering prices, a simplified product range and focus on a several key on-trend offerings.

“Kmart has transformed from a broken and forgotten brand to the most loved brands in Australia,” she said. “The campaign, ‘We make low prices irresistible’ made Kmart low prices cool.”

Lai also highlighted an evolving communications strategy for Kmart as another marketing milestone. A key step was shifting from a print catalogue-centric communications strategy to a digital content ecosystem approach.

In 2019, Lai also oversaw new brand positioning and the launch of Kmart’s ‘Low prices for life’ campaign, aimed at putting the customer at the centre of its strategy. The campaign emphasised the retailer’s commitment to low-priced products, with a focus on celebrating the joy customers feel when engaging with the brand in their everyday lives. 

Lai said she will take some time off before considering her next professional endeavour.

Read more: Kmart and Target on retail turnaround

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