Staff Reporters
Jun 29, 2020

Asia-Pacific Power List 2020: Naho Kono, Rakuten

Kono has achieved several milestones at Rakuten, including the youngest woman to be appointed an executive officer, due in part to the way she has driven mobile innovation.

Asia-Pacific Power List 2020: Naho Kono, Rakuten
Asia-Pacific’s 50 most influential and purposeful marketers

Naho Kono

Group managing executive officer and CMO
Rakuten Inc and Rakuten Mobile

Naho Kono is an exceptional individual. Not only does she hold senior positions at one of Japan’s biggest ecommerce platforms, Rakuten, and its newly launched mobile network, she is also one of very few female executives in Japan with such responsibility.

The long-serving executive has been at Rakuten for nearly 17 years, during which time she has quickly risen through the ranks, achieving several milestones along the way. In 2013, she was the youngest woman to be appointed an executive officer at Rakuten, and in 2017, she became the first executive in company history to take the reins of the its core ecommerce business from Rakuten’s founder, Mickey Mikitani.  

Kono is specifically noted with driving the development of mobile ecommerce, which accounts for approximately 75% of total transactions on the company’s flagship Rakuten Ichiba marketplace, among the biggest ecommerce sites in Japan and a platform for around 50,000 merchants. In an interview on Rakuten’s official blog, Rakuten Today, Kono said her “obsession with mobile” was part of the reason she first joined the business: “I was sure that was going to be the platform of the future...I felt I could learn a lot quickly about mobile online shopping from a unique perspective and contribute something in the company that might make a difference.”

In 2018, Kono was promoted to her current position as chief marketing officer for the Rakuten group and in 2019 she took on the additional role of chief marketing officer for Rakuten Mobile.

As CMO, she has been instrumental in creating the business’ largest ever event—a four-day showcase called Rakuten Optimism, held in Yokohama in 2019. The company also signed NBA champion Steph Curry as a brand ambassador in 2019, as it unveiled a major marketing investment to introduce its brand and online loyalty platform to consumers in the US and Canada. Other sports branding initiatives include the partnership with FC Barcelona, Rakuten’s NPB baseball team Rakuten Eagles and J.League football team Vissel Kobe, as well as the rebranding of recently-acquired CPBL baseball team Rakuten Monkeys in Taiwan.

Asia-Pacific’s 50 most influential and purposeful marketers


Campaign Asia

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