Cannes Interview Corner: Klarna's David Sandstrom

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David Sandstrom, CMO of Klarna, is eager to reunite with the marketing community at Cannes

David Sandstrom, CMO of Klarna, is looking forward to reconnecting with industry colleagues after the pandemic to discuss insights and learnings and brainstorm on navigating the challenges ahead. He will be speaking at the Brand Innovators Marketing Leadership Summit at Cannes next week.

Can you talk about any brand activations or marketing that you are promoting at Cannes?

We recently announced two product offerings which will enable even more opportunities for our 150 million global consumers and 400,000 retail partners worldwide to engage and benefit from using Klarna. 

We launched Klarna Virtual Shopping globally, which connects online shoppers directly with experts in physical stores through live video and messaging, providing a highly personalized experience that helps consumers shop online with confidence. By placing human interaction at the center of the online shopping journey, Virtual Shopping empowers our retail partners to create immersive experiences that are proven to increase customer engagement, reduce returns and drive loyalty. E-commerce up until now has become entirely transactional, and that's not what consumers are looking for when shopping online. They value social interactions with a more emotional element, and great customer experience above all else, so we’re really excited about this next step in Klarna’s evolution to bring that to life.

We also recently announced the highly anticipated Klarna Card in the US, which enables consumers to Pay in 4 everywhere with zero interest, helping them save time and money, and be informed and in control of their finances. Unlike conventional credit cards that charge US consumers 16.45% APR on average, Klarna offers a fair and transparent model - and the Klarna Card does not charge any interest to consumers whatsoever. The fact that over one million US consumers signed up to our waitlist in a matter of weeks when we first announced the offering a few months ago illustrates the strong demand for an alternative payment method like this in the market.

What key themes do you think will resonate this year? 

Two of the themes that stick out to me among Cannes’ planned programming are brands’ environmental focus, as well as how brands will balance big data, tech, and creativity. 

“Sustainability” is a word we keep hearing across every industry vertical and now is a more important time than ever to make that word meaningful with action. Klarna’s own data reveals there is a growing demand for ethically sourced products, with 35% of consumers in the US placing sustainability in their top 5 considerations when shopping. The authenticity and action taken around this topic will be key for brands. Additionally, I believe most companies today want to be at the intersection of creativity, technology and data, but the ones that are consumer-centric and offer real value will win. There has to be a two-way value exchange to meet consumers where they are and offer them a superior brand experience. 

How are you thinking about creativity as we head into Cannes?

When I joined Klarna as CMO in 2017, we were yet another financial company competing in a sea of boring blue corporate logos and suits, typical of the traditional banking industry. But as we began to challenge the business models of these distrusted financial systems and predatory high cost credit card companies, I wanted to disrupt the category by challenging what has been the norm. Consciously choosing the color pink for the brand was the first small but symbolic step in this direction. Since then, we’ve leaned into content curation, personalization, and data to ensure they are working for the consumer, and our growing network has enabled an entirely new advertising business unit which has quickly established Klarna as a new type of publisher. 

As we head into Cannes, and looking at the rest of the year ahead, one of my key focuses will be scaling Klarna’s brand globally without losing important local relevance, and transforming our marketing efforts into more efficient operations especially as our geographical footprint grows. This includes building brand fame, driving consumer acquisition, loyalty, and frequency by offering a superior product experience, and doing so in an engaging way that drives real value for the consumer.

What are you most excited about at Cannes?

I’m excited to reunite with the Cannes community after so long and meet and learn from my peers. The industry experienced dramatic changes over the last two years that none of us could have foreseen, but coming together to work through serious challenges and discuss the opportunities ahead is a hopeful starting point for me.

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