“Rakuten Marketing has truly demonstrated the value and effectiveness of affiliate marketing. The strategic guidance and insights that our account managers have provided have ensured that we were able to successfully gain access to new customers in key growth regions. By using the affiliate channel to increase our brand awareness and test new technology partners, we have been able to successfully propel Cotton On worldwide.”
– Head of Group Digital Marketing, Cotton On Group

Overview:
Way back in 1988 Nigel Austin set up shop at Beckley Market Geelong selling acid wash jackets. Three years later the first Cotton On store opened in 1991, delivering value fashion and quality basics designed to exceed customer expectations.

Fast forward 25 years and the Cotton On Group has grown to become Australia’s largest value fashion group, with 8 brands spanning 17 countries.

Marketing Objectives:

To “Cotton On” to something means to understand or discover the potential of a great idea.

With a belief in big ideas and fierce will to bring these to life, Cotton On have a clear vision – to be one of the most loved brands in the world. Recognising the power of affiliate marketing as a brand awareness and new customer acquisition channel, Cotton On engaged Rakuten Marketing to manage their affiliate program.

Prior to partnering with Rakuten Marketing, Cotton On had not previously invested in paid marketing. The low-risk of the cost-per-acquisition (CPA) model associated with affiliate marketing attracted Cotton On to the channel, and they were eager to leverage the Rakuten Marketing Affiliate Network worldwide network in order to faciliate a truly global affiliate marketing program.  

Strategy:
The Cotton On affiliate program was originally intended for Australian publishers, however, in collaboration with Rakuten Marketing, Cotton On utilised their affiliate program as a key channel for their strategy to expand to new international markets.

Through Cotton On Australia’s affiliate program, they access both Australian publisher partnerships and publishers in their key markets of Hong Kong, Malaysia and Singapore. Shortly after the launch of their Australian affiliate program, Cotton On opened their US affiliate marketing program through the Rakuten Marketing Affiliate Network.

Key strategies include:

  • Cotton On ensure that offers and promotions are available to publishers that align with key retail events in all markets. Site wide offers have been offered for key seasonal events including:
    • APAC: Chinese New Year, Singles’ Day, Double 12
    • US: Black Friday, Cyber Monday
    • AU: Australia Day, Boxing Day, Click Frenzy
  • Leveraging the expertise of local Rakuten Marketing account managers, with a separate program for Asia-Pacific (APAC) and the US, to receive guidance from market specialists into key promotional periods, market insights and tips on working with new innovative publishers
  • Understanding the importance of their millennial consumers, Cotton On are integrating with key students publishers in all markets to ensure performance is maximised by reaching this core target demographic and offering unique promotions
  • Flexibility with exclusive offers and bespoke placements to enhance publisher partnerships

Results:
Between July 1st and December 31st 2016, Cotton On’s global affiliate sales grew 260% over a 6-month period. During this time, affiliates drove approximately 10% of all online sales.

Further results include:

  • In 2016, sales driven through the affiliate channel from Hong Kong, Malaysia and Singapore made up 14% of the APAC (including Australia) program sales
  • In 2016, the APAC sales grew on average 24% Month-on-Month (MoM)
  • The Cotton On US program experienced an average growth in 2016 of 35% MoM
  • Following the success of the Cotton On program, The Cotton On Group decided to launched an affiliate program for their Supre and Factorie brands

Interested in leveraging the affiliate channel to help with your brands global expansion? Speak to one of our experts rm-salesapac@mail.rakuten.com or visit rakutenmarketing.com.au