CMO 50: David Sandström

Chief marketing officer, Klarna

Klarna made waves in 2020 as the proposition of buy now, pay later became popular amid a global recession. As a fintech company positioned as a shopping app, Klarna allows users to make interest-free pre- and post-purchase payments in multiple installments online. After launching in the U.S. this year, Sweden-based Klarna onboarded 21 million new customers in 2020, adding 11 million in the U.S. by November. Today, Klarna has 90 million users globally and 18 million in the U.S

Chief marketing officer David Sandström has been behind Klarna’s rapid awareness spike in the U.S. Sandström ensured that Klarna’s buy now, pay later value add is at the forefront of its marketing, while placing the typically boring financial services category squarely in pop culture. Under his leadership, Klarna has targeted younger audiences through partnerships with celebrities including Snoop Dog and Lady Gaga, as well as through interesting media integrations on Twitch and Animal Crossing. The company also made its Super Bowl debut this year with an ad featuring four Maya Rudolphs to represent its four payment post-purchase installment model.

Klarna now partners with more than 250,000 merchants including GameStop, Missguided and Zara. In Q4 it became one of the top 10 most downloaded shopping apps in the U.S., and in March, a fresh round of investments valued the company at $31 billion — nearly six times larger than just 18 months prior. But competition is fierce as buy now, pay later services continue to crop up in the market.

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