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News Plus 9 May 2022 - 5 min read

Kogan lures ex-Myer, Officeworks, Autobarn marketer as new CMO, gunning for a million subscribers, brand growth, $3bn in revenue by mid-2026

By Paul McIntyre and Sam Buckingham-Jones

“My brief is really goes back to those objectives. As a brand and as a business, we want to generate $3 billion in income by the end of FY26 and acquire a million Kogan First customers,” new Kogan CMO Karl Winther says.

Kogan is a real Australian e-commerce success story, CMO Karl Winther reckons – but there’s a lot to do to continue that momentum for Kogan and it's diverse product lines from insurance and utilities to Dick Smith and Matt Blatt online stores. Three weeks into the role, Winther's targets include tripling 345,000 Kogan First paying subscribers, drive brand growth and help the listed business triple revenue by 2026. After a couple of Covid-fuelled years that shot the company’s share price into the stratosphere – and back – the challenge is on for a company that does just about everything a pureplay e-commerce website can.

What you need to know:

  • Karl Winther, the former lead marketer at Bapcor, parent company to Autobarn, Midas, Autopro and Burson, has been named Kogan’s first Chief Marketing Officer, tasked with aiding the charge to a million paying members of the company’s loyalty program and a near tripling of revenue to $3bn by 2026.
  • Kogan is “a real Australian success story”, Winther says, and has $1.2bn in revenues currently.
  • It has a powerhouse internal performance marketing and CRM team and is still growing after a massive share price surge and fall during Covid.
  • Former NBL marketer, Simon Davenport, a colleague of Winther at Officeworks, has been appointed to Bapcor where Winther overhauled the auto retail specialist's CRM and ecommerce tech stack with SAP. 

We literally reach millions of customers a day through their owned assets, their website, their emails... We've publicly stated that we want to be a $3 billion business in total revenues by the end of FY26.

Karl Winther, Kogan, CMO

Kogan’s First

Billion-dollar Australian e-commerce pureplay Kogan has appointed its first Chief Marketing Officer, hiring former Bapcor marketer Karl Winther to supercharge its brand, grow its bustling Amazon Prime-like loyalty program and help triple revenue over the next four years.

The publicly-listed company, which started in CEO Ruslan Kogan’s parents’ garage in 2006, has its fingers in many pies: It sells its own brand of products, global brands, it has a curated Amazon-like marketplace, a mobile phone company, it sells insurance and utilities and owns the online Dick Smith and Matt Blatt online stores – and it operates in New Zealand.

“As a marketer, you go, 'Oh my God, there's so many things and aspects you can sink your teeth into',” Winther told Mi3, three weeks into the role.

“Whichever way you cut it, it's a real Australian success story. It's now a $1.2 billion business, a phenomenal success … We literally reach millions of customers a day through our owned assets, our website, our emails. And you're delighting thousands of customers on a daily basis. So, we're a leading e-commerce retailer. I love Ruslan's ambition. And we're public. We've stated that we want to be a $3 billion business in total revenues by the end of FY26.”

Kogan has 4.1 million active customers, up from 3.6 million over the past year, per its latest investor update. Gross sales were $262.1m – a 3.8 per cent fall year-on-year but a 19 per cent lift on 2020, which the company says is better metric given growth and pandemic volatility. Likewise, its gross profit declined 11.2 per cent over the year to $41.0m but was up 20.2 per cent on 2020’s figures.

Despite the many different sectors Kogan operates in, Winther is quick to point out it is not a fractured company – all of its e-commerce products are accessible through the Kogan website. He tested it out before joining.

“I bought an exclusive brand product, a national brand product and a marketplace product and the comms were all seamless,” he said.

“The only thing that differed was where they were coming from, from a delivery point of view. I did receive different deliveries because they were coming from different warehouses, but the comms and the customer journey and knowing what I bought and when I bought it, it was all seamless.”

The performance marketing will continue to leverage that strength. That's a muscle that's been well exercised here and we're probably one of the best in the country on it.

Karl Winther, Kogan, CMO

In-housed performance

Over its 16 years, the company has built a powerful performance marketing and customer relationship manager (CRM) team. Most of its activity is in-housed. “There’s a strong capability in the team,” Winther said.

“The performance marketing will continue to leverage that strength. That's a muscle that's been well exercised here and we're probably one of the best in the country on it. … At the end of the day, the task is we need to get to that revenue and we need to acquire more customers. The Kogan brand is very strong. Like any good marketer, you want your brand to continue to be stronger and we're going to work out the best way to make sure that that growth story continues.”

Loyalty a priority

Part of that growth is growing the company’s new loyalty program, Kogan First, to one million members. As per its market update in late April, the program had 328,000 members at the end of March, a 264 per cent rise year-on-year and a 19.7 per cent rise quarter-on-quarter. It had 345,000 members by the end of April.

Kogan First costs $59 a year, and members get free shipping, exclusive specials, priority customer service and 1 per cent of every purchase back as credit.
“My brief is really goes back to those objectives. As a brand and as a business, we want to generate $3 billion in income by the end of FY26 and acquire a million Kogan First customers,” Winther said.

“So it's the ability to then implement strategies and tactics that get us closer to those goals.”

The company has been publicly listed since 2016, fluctuating between roughly $1.50 and $10 until Covid, where its price soared. It ran its first television campaign in April 2020, promoting a “get it quick smart” tagline.

Kogan’s shares peaked at almost $25 each in October 2020 but has been steadily falling to its pre-pandemic levels since then. It closed at $3.48 yesterday.

Simon Davenport, Bapcor marketer

Bapcor's new marketing chief, Simon Davenport.

Bapcor still driving

Winther was CMO at Bapcor for 21 months before the opportunity at Kogan came along. Bapcor covers retailers like Autobarn, Autopro and Opposite Lock, as well as a range of trade, service and specialist wholesale businesses. He refreshed the brands, developed a new brand strategy, creative and positioning, and oversaw the introduction of a new CRM system. He also oversaw a new web and ecomm platform for the three brands listed above.  

Simon Davenport, formerly the General Manager of Marketing at the National Basketball League, has been named to take over Winther’s role at Bapcor. “I’m really excited about the opportunity,” he told Mi3. The pair crossed paths at Officeworks, where Winther was General Manager Marketing and Davenport reported to him as National Advertising and Communications Manager. “He’s a perfect choice to continue the trajectory the business is on,” Winther said.

Winther is adamant while the goals of $3bn in revenue and a million Kogan First members are big –  especially with the likes of Amazon slowly but steadily growing their presence in Australia, it’s a challenge and is something new for him.

“Going to pureplay ecommerce is something new. And seriously, there are incredibly smart people here,” he said.

“They've built this business over 16 years, and I feel like this role is going to stretch and grow me. But I'm also going to learn from them, but they're also going to learn from me. So I found it as a great complement of the two coming together.”

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