Etsy Joins The 'Who Needs A CMO?' Club

Etsy’s extraordinary post-pandemic growth spurt hit a bumpy conclusion, resulting in the reduction of 11% of its employees. Among them is Ryan Scott, chief marketing officer. Etsy is eliminating the CMO role, shifting marketing duties to Raina Moskowitz, who becomes the chief operating and marketing officer.

“Raina will work to drive growth globally by expanding brand consideration and deepening customer trust and loyalty,” writes Josh Silverman, Etsy’s chief executive officer, in a letter to staff explaining the cutbacks.

Moskowitz joined Etsy as chief operating officer in 2018 and held key marketing roles at American Express before joining the Brooklyn-based company.

It's the latest shift in CMOland, as companies redistribute marketing to other C-suite roles. Etsy’s decision follows the elimination of the CMO role at UPS last week and the reported end of the U.S. CMO role at Anheuser-Busch. In other companies, marketing execs are moving into roles with trendier titles, like chief commercial officer, chief customer officer and increasingly, chief growth or revenue officer.



But these aren’t changes CMOs should worry about -- at least not yet. “It’s easy to catastrophize and to think the CMO role is going away,” says Chris Ross, a vice president and analyst in Gartner CMO practice.  “But the same underlying set of responsibilities, tasks, and oversight need to happen somewhere in the organization, whatever title gets assigned to that person. The need for a CMO’s core skills aren’t going away.”

And individual skillsets drive some decisions like Etsy’s, he tells Marketing Daily.

“The elimination of the CMO role is more about effectiveness as opposed to efficiency,” says Seth Basham, who follows Etsy for Wedbush, in an email to Marketing Daily. “In other words, the company believes that Ms. Moskowitz can generate better performance in marketing (based partly on her track record at American Express) than the prior CMO.”

Silverman’s letter included an effusive thanks to the outgoing marketing chief. “Ryan helped transform our brand globally during a period of critical growth through his skilled storytelling and full-funnel activation of channels like above-the-line advertising and advanced, data-driven performance marketing,” Silverman said.

In October, Etsy launched a new “Your mission” ad campaign, its first from new agency Orchard.

Silverman noted that while Etsy’s marketplace has more than doubled in size since 2019, the competitive climate called for sweeping changes.

“This decision was among the hardest we’ve ever made and one that we have tried earnestly to avoid,” Silverman said. “We are operating in a very challenging macro and competitive environment, and gross merchandise sales have remained essentially flat since 2021. This means we are not bringing our sellers more sales, which is the single most important thing we can do.”

Some analysts, including Basham, viewed the cutbacks as ultimately good for the company, “especially given competitive pressures from Chinese online retailers, Temu and Shein, that are aggressively pursuing share and advertising costs to unsustainable levels,” he writes.

At Morningstar, “we remain optimistic about prospects after painful but necessary cuts,” writes Sean Dunlop. “We expect Etsy to emerge leaner as consumer spending begins to recover in the second half of 2024.”

In other CMO news, Peloton named Lauren Weinberg as CMO, replacing Leslie Berland, who left last week to join Verizon. Weinberg, who joins the struggling Peloton after just two months at Intuit, is another example of how fast CMOs can churn at struggling companies.

“Most CMOs aren’t miracle workers,” Ross said. “I’m not sure what is happening at Peloton, but if it turns out the business is fundamentally flawed and unwilling to address core issues, not even the best CMO will make that business successful.”

1 comment about "Etsy Joins The 'Who Needs A CMO?' Club".
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  1. Ronald Kurtz from American Affluence Research Center, December 15, 2023 at 11:38 a.m.

    Firing and changing CMO's is often the first line of defense of COOs and CEOs trying to save their job. Ecommerce and subscription companies should check to see how their business would improve if they made it easier or more simple for consumers to work with them. 

    One of Etsy's retailers has been very simple and good for me to work with, but I can't say the same for Etsy.

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