Toby Otsuka, Rakuten Europe CEO
When Rakuten began its journey into Europe a little over ten years ago, major cornerstones like our partnership with FC Barcelona, the availability of Rakuten TV in nearly every living room in the region and strong continent-wide brand recognition were still the stuff of dreams.
Jump to 2020 and Rakuten is offering a variety of services to consumers and brands across the region, including everything from shopping, communications and digital content to advertising and app building. Rakuten Mobile is working with some of the biggest household names in the mobile industry to revolutionize telecommunications. We even run our very own blockchain technology lab.
To some in the region, the connections between our diverse portfolio of services may have previously seemed unclear. Today, however, we are excited to announce that we are taking another step forward in Europe and making that diversity a strength with the launch of Club Rakuten in the U.K.
UK joins the club
Club Rakuten will bring together Rakuten’s existing U.K. brands (Rakuten TV, Rakuten Kobo and Rakuten Viber) with more than 250 partnerships across retail and experiences with global brands like Booking.com, Lego and ASOS to create a robust, customer-centric membership rewards program unlike any other in Europe.
This new proposition allows us to bring our group services to members in a more relevant and dynamic way. Members can quickly and easily earn points through everyday shopping in multiple categories, including household purchases, clothing, books and movies. They can then redeem their points in a wide variety of ways including gift cards to help them shop smartly and reduce household spend. They can use their points to create “feel good” moments, such as watching the latest blockbuster release at home with their families and friends on Rakuten TV, or to donate to one of 20,000 charities.
Inspired by Rakuten’s remarkably popular points program in Japan, which has rewarded more than 2 trillion points (a value of approx. 18.8 billion USD), Club Rakuten will empower U.K. members like never before.
Delighting Rakuten members in new ways
Of course we’re also committed to adding real value to our members’ lives beyond the transactional and financial. Club Rakuten members will benefit from a wide range of perks including money-can’t-buy offers, prize draws and special discounts. Members can get VIP treatment including priority access and free upgrades at events with Fever, 20 percent off FC Barcelona’s Culer’s Premium Membership and discounts on a wide range of movies with Rakuten TV, as well as book purchases with Kobo.
The site is a springboard from which we intend to add further breadth and depth of service, personalization, enhanced perks and additional partners. The end goal: To offer a highly tailored, relevant and rewarding Rakuten Ecosystem experience to our customers in Europe.
Visit rakuten.co.uk to check out Club Rakuten.
About the author: Toshihiko “Toby” Otsuka is CEO of Rakuten Europe and is driving the formation of a Rakuten Ecosystem in the EMEA region. He also heads Rakuten Europe Bank as CEO and is an Executive Officer at Rakuten, Inc.
Toby holds an MBA from the University of Pennsylvania and has worked in the digital and banking industry for nearly 30 years. In his over 10 years at Rakuten, he has filled various leading positions in the banking business and financial departments, including Head of Accounting at Rakuten, Inc., CFO for Viber and Senior Director at Rakuten Bank in Japan.