Strategies for Success in Changing Landscapes
ABM/ABX 09.14.2023

Strategies for Success in Changing Landscapes

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In this episode of Sunny Side Up, host Michael Malone interviews Kathy Neumann, CMO of Rent., about mastering marketing strategies for success in changing landscapes. Michael welcomes Kathy to the show and delves into her extensive background in retail marketing, discussing how it has shaped her current role as CMO at Rent.. Kathy emphasizes the importance of understanding consumer motivations and solving their problems by marrying consumer insights with technology trends. She talks about the challenges of maintaining consumer-centricity and avoiding personal biases in marketing strategies. The conversation shifts towards the impact of COVID-19 on digital transformation, with Kathy highlighting how the pandemic accelerated the adoption of mobile-first and digital experiences. She shares insights about her approach to building teams, focusing on hiring for attitude and aptitude, and cultivating a culture of curiosity and adaptability. Kathy also discusses the successful rebranding of Rent. and the crucial role of engaging employees in the transformation process. She emphasizes the significance of internal engagement metrics and external client feedback in measuring the success of a rebrand.

About the Guest

Kathy joins us from Rent. where she has been CMO for the last year and a half.  During her tenure at Rent. she has led a complete relaunch of the company including branding, product architecture, and company culture, resulting in a reversal of business trends from declining business to double-digit growth.  

Kathy’s background is steep in consumer, digital, and brand marketing across brands such as Chewy, Carter’s, Lands’ End, and Victoria’s Secret.

Connect with Kathy Neumann

Key Takeaways

  • Perspective shift: View industry challenges from the consumer’s point of view, not just personal perspective.
  • COVID-19 accelerated digital adoption and mobile-first mindset, impacting consumer expectations.
  • A curious attitude is crucial when hiring for marketing roles; look for adaptability over current expertise.
  • Embrace progress over precision and encourage trying new ideas within the marketing team.
  • Successful rebranding involves rallying the entire organization around the “why” and fostering engagement.
  • Metrics for internal success: Employee engagement, referrals, swag requests, and pride in the brand.
  • External metrics include traffic, conversion rates, engagement, and feedback from customers.
  • Navigating chaos: Maintain curiosity, recognize evolving industry trends, and stay adaptable.
  • Rebranding isn’t just about visuals; it’s about transforming culture and aligning the entire organization.
  • Communicate the “why” of change multiple times in different ways to ensure understanding and buy-in.
  • Embrace disruption by focusing on where the industry is headed and adapting accordingly.


“You can’t stretch standing still, so I applaud people on my team that try new things, and we celebrate the failures by learning what we can out of those interactions and quickly course correcting, but if you’re not moving, you’re not growing in today’s environment.” – Kathy Neumann

Highlights from the Episode

Can you share insights about how your experience in retail marketing has shaped your role as CMO at Rent.?

Kathy shared that her extensive background in retail marketing had a significant impact on her current role as CMO at Rent.. She emphasized that her journey to her current role wasn’t the most traditional, but it was shaped by her passion for understanding consumers, their motivations, and how to solve problems using technology. She explained that as she navigated her career across different brands, she gained insights into the unique needs of various consumer segments. This experience gradually built upon itself and ultimately led her to her current role as CMO at Rent.. Kathy highlighted how she continues to anchor her career around a deep understanding of consumers, a skill that is transferable to any role.

What are some considerations to keep in mind when applying marketing principles in different industry contexts?

Kathy emphasized the need to avoid self-centric thinking. She stressed that while everyone may have retail experience, it’s crucial to step outside of personal perspectives and truly understand the target consumer. Kathy emphasized that this requires research and data analysis, drawing insights from existing data as well as direct interactions with consumers. She highlighted the importance of overcoming biases and solving consumers’ actual problems rather than projecting one’s perceptions onto them.

How has the shift to digital interactions impacted the understanding of consumers and customers pre-COVID versus post-COVID?

Kathy acknowledged that the COVID-19 pandemic had accelerated existing trends in digital interactions and consumer expectations. She explained that industries that were already ahead in terms of digital adoption experienced an acceleration, while others caught up rapidly. She provided an example from her time at Chewy, where online pet food purchases surged due to remote work and increased pet adoptions. This experience highlighted the growing demand for mobile-first experiences and demonstrated how businesses needed to adapt quickly to meet consumers’ evolving preferences.

Have you seen a significant difference in understanding consumers pre-COVID and post-COVID?

Kathy responded to Michael’s question about changes in understanding consumers pre-COVID and post-COVID. She explained that the pandemic had accelerated the adoption of digital technologies, resulting in heightened expectations for mobile convenience. Drawing from her experience at Chewy, Kathy mentioned that consumers’ reliance on mobile apps for various services had increased significantly. This acceleration showcased the importance of adapting to rapidly evolving consumer behaviors and expectations.

What tactics did you use to get buy-in and create a cultural transformation during the rebranding exercise at Rent.?

When discussing her approach to getting buy-in and fostering a cultural transformation during the rebranding exercise at Rent., Kathy elaborated on the significance of sharing the “why” behind the change. She emphasized that it was crucial to get the internal team excited about the new direction and help them understand the impact on the organization. Kathy stressed the importance of consistent communication and maintaining a drumbeat of messaging to ensure that the team fully embraced the transformation. She also discussed using engagement metrics as a way to measure internal progress and gauge the effectiveness of the cultural shift.

How do you measure the success of a brand transformation, both internally and externally?

Kathy expanded on the metrics used to measure the success of a brand transformation. Internally, she explained that engagement scores, employee pride, referrals, and requests for company merchandise were key indicators of a successful cultural shift. Externally, metrics such as website traffic, conversion rates, inbound sales requests, and positive client feedback were used to assess the effectiveness of the rebranding effort. Kathy emphasized that these metrics helped track both the internal and external impact of the transformation.

How do you navigate chaos and disruption in the marketing landscape, especially in industries that lag in digital evolution?

Kathy provided insights on maintaining a balance between attitude, curiosity, and adaptability. She emphasized that while the industry experiences rapid changes, there is a general trajectory in terms of where technology and trends are leading. Kathy highlighted the importance of embracing change and leveraging past experiences to shape strategies for the future. She stressed the value of maintaining a positive attitude, fostering curiosity, and staying adaptable to effectively navigate the evolving marketing landscape.

Is there a book, blog, newsletter, website, or video that you would recommend to our listeners?


Susan Sachatello Chief Marketing Officer at Compeer Financial

Matthew Doerrs Vice President of B2B Marketing at Rent.

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Sunny Side Up

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