Shawn Lim
Sep 4, 2023

The CMO's MO: Gaurav Kathpalia on the evolution of Amazon Prime

An avid mountaineer, Amazon's marketing lead for Singapore is looking at new ways to engage consumers who are increasingly integrating online with offline during their shopping journeys.

The CMO's MO: Gaurav Kathpalia on the evolution of Amazon Prime

The CMO's MO: 9 questions with dynamic APAC marketing leaders, insights and personalities revealed. 

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In the dynamic landscape of Singapore's omnichannel retail, Amazon is not just an observer; it's an active shaper.  

As consumers increasingly blend their online product research with the tangible allure of physical stores, Amazon's strategies are evolving to align with these behavioral shifts. A recent study commissioned by the brand uncovered intriguing insights into Singaporean consumers' habits, revealing their meticulous online product research, the pursuit of trustworthy shopping experiences, and the quest for value. 

Campaign chats with Amazon’s Gaurav Kathpalia, CMO and head of Prime at Amazon Singapore on the rise of omnichannel retail in Singapore and tackling behavioural shifts, as well as evolving Amazon Prime beyond a membership. 

1. What are the three biggest marketing challenges for your brand right now?

Strive to be the first choice of our customers. A recent GlobalData study we commissioned showed that Singaporeans visit more than five (5.4) online retailers on average before deciding where to buy. As customers take advantage of a variety of online and physical shopping channels, we want to ensure they continue to enjoy a seamless and trustworthy experience on 

Remind our customers of Prime membership benefits. Amazon offers a wide range of authentic selection at great prices, unlimited video streaming, and free gaming with all-in-one Prime membership offers for just S$2.99/month (that’s less than a bubble tea today!). 

Increase our support for local brands to defy a tough economic environment, helping them leverage Amazon’s 22 international stores to sell their products globally and expand customer reach with over 300 million active Amazon accounts and 200 million Prime members. 

2. What are the three biggest opportunities for your brand?

Our biggest opportunities always centre around the value we can provide to our customers. 

Our report revealed that Singaporeans are blending offline and online shopping (‘omnichannel retail’) for savings and convenience. Omnichannel retail accounted for over half (57.6%) of retail spend in 2022, and is expected to rise a further 21.2% over the next four years. 

The same research also found that one in three (29.3%) online shoppers in Singapore browse for fun, creating potential opportunities for brands to tap on ad-hoc purchases and engage customers who enjoy “e-window shopping."

Lastly, given people’s increasing access to shopping channels, we see opportunities to better understand consumers—where they are, what they buy, how often they buy, etc. Identifying such trends creates opportunities for retailers to expand their reach and offer more successful holistic omnichannel experiences.  

3. Where are you investing your marketing budgets this year? In what areas are you increasing or cutting spend?

Our report shows that more than nine in ten (93%) consumers in Singapore are either concerned or very concerned as the cost-of-living rises. As such, our focus remains on showing our customers how they can enjoy low prices, a wide selection of authentic local and international products, and convenience when they shop on  

Amazon's Prime Day carnival

This October, we’re bringing an exclusive shopping event to Prime members—Prime Big Deal Days. I’m really excited for Prime members to discover some of Amazon’s best deals of the season across 19 countries including Singapore. We’ll share more details soon as we get closer to the event. I can’t wait to give our Prime members access to exclusive early savings this season.  

We also see consumers increasingly relying on social networks to look for information about brands and products and we are investing in these collaborations to bring Amazon’s unique selection and offers while at the same time helping grow and engage creators’ audiences. 

4. Give us one example to convince our readers that your brand is walking the talk on sustainability.

In 2019, Amazon co-founded The Climate Pledge: A commitment to reach net-zero carbon by 2040, ten years ahead of the Paris Agreement. In Singapore, more companies are rising to the challenge by joining the Pledge, with signatories including Neuron Mobility and Terrascope. 

Amazon continues to add renewable energy projects on grids that power Amazon’s operations, including our fulfillment centres, physical stores and data centres around the world. In Singapore, Amazon had announced two utility-scale solar projects representing near 80 megawatts of renewable energy capacity. 

Amazon has also been investing in nature-based solutions to supplement the carbon-reduction efforts we’re driving across our operations. Last year, we announced the establishment of the International Blue Carbon Institute, an organisation housed in Singapore that aims to mitigate climate change and protect coastal communities by supporting the restoration and protection of coastal blue carbon ecosystems in Southeast Asia and beyond. 

5. What do you feel separates your brand culture from others?

We obsess over our customers and ‘Work Backwards’ to create innovative products and address new ideas, challenges or decisions. While much of what we build comes from listening to customers, we understand that the biggest needle movers will be things that customers don’t know to ask for. We must invent on their behalf. 

‘Working Backwards’ pushes us to constantly ask ourselves before starting to build any offering: Who is the customer? What is the customer's problem? if the problem is a relevant one for my customer, and only then define the solution that solves this problem to guide the customer experience.  

This mechanism has helped us offer value that customers will always care about—low prices, vast selection and fast delivery—and we work hard to provide all three, all the time. 

6. What needs to change in the industry when it comes to working culture?

Having a builder’s mentality and creating a culture of builders is crucial. At Amazon, we believe that it is always day one, and we must be curious, explorers, and fresh with a beginner’s mindset. This attitude helps us approach big, hard-to-solve opportunities with a humble conviction that success can come through iteration: invent, launch, reinvent, relaunch, start over, rinse, repeat, again and again. We’ve realised that the path to success is anything but straight. 

7. Complete the sentence: “Today’s CMO must ….”.

…Prioritise building brand trust through genuine and authentic customer connections. Especially in times of uncertainty and with bad actors (such as scammers) present, providing authentic products and a reliable customer experience are paramount to building trust in the brand. At Amazon, we are working hard for consumers to feel secure knowing that anything they buy with us—whether it’s a sound bar or a soap bar—is authentic. 

8. What kind of a CMO are you? Answer using maximum three adjectives.

Authentic, innovative, obsessed.

9. Tell us one personal thing about yourself that others might not know.

Gaurav Kathpalia on his mountaineering trips.

I am a frequent visitor to Himalayas for high altitude mountaineering and currently training for climbing Mount Kinabalu.  

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