Byravee Iyer
Sep 9, 2016

5 things we learned from Millennial 2020

Here's five key ideas to emerge out of the the two-day Millennial 20/20 Summit in Singapore.

Rahul Asthana, marketing director APAC for Kimberly Clark, speaking during his panel
Rahul Asthana, marketing director APAC for Kimberly Clark, speaking during his panel

The evolution of mobile and commerce

Fergus O’Hare, Facebook’s head of Creative Shop, said a lot of small businesses have started using Instagram as their shop front, and users are conducting bank transfers via personal messages on the app. “We are learning so much from India and Indonesia and how they are doing transactions,” said O’Hare. “It’s exciting to see how people are hacking it.”

According to Teresa Condicon, co-founder of Snapcart, a mobile cashback service operating in Indonesia and Philippines, personalisation in the online world will transition to the offline world and it's all going to be done by algorithms. “The mobile phone will be a shopping assistant and it will compile your shopping list expenses and tell you where to go to get that discount.”

Goldengate Ventures, an early-stage VC in Southeast Asia, had to change its mindset because people in the region use their mobile phone for everything. “When we look to invest, it’s going to be mobile-only businesses,” said Michael Lints, venture partner at the firm.  

That’s what led the firm to invest in a company in Indonesia that helps people convert their cash into digital currency. “They go to the ATM and take out money and save it at home because they don’t trust banks," Lints said. "So this company decided to turn their cash into virtual currency spurring people to start using ecommerce.”

FMCGs unlock the potential of digital

FMCG brands need to be fast and agile. Technology has shortened the feedback loop, and brands need to turn things around quickly.

For Kimberly-Clark, this has meant revising its approach to marketing and media budgets.

“Do you have an agile mindset?" asked Rahul Asthana, marketing director APAC for Kimberly-Clark. "Are you freeing people in the frontline to make decisions? Otherwise you will end up looking old fashioned."

Kimberly-Clark has done a few things to evolve to meet this new world order. The firm no longer has a separate digital-marketing team and has made brand leaders accountable for overall brand strategy. “Earlier people would turn to the digital-marketing manager,” he said. “We now expect even the MD to be accountable for digital.”

The marker of Huggies also continues to educate its staff. “We grew up in a world that’s not so technology-driven," Asthana said. "Our employees need to know enough that they are not scared to talk about things like CRM or marketing automation.”

He added: “It is fine to not have the right answer but it is much better to go out with your best guess.”

The final point of change is around changes to production budgets. Where earlier the firm used 95 percent of its production budget on getting something right before launch, now it spends only 50 percent of its budget on a campaign and uses the rest to make real-time fixes. 

Beauty and brand loyalty

There are no vast differences between a 25-year-old consumer and a 50-year-old one, according to Alexis Horowitz-Burdick, Sephora Digital's MD.

“At the end of the day they are still evaluating a product," said Horowitz-Burdick. "But different devices changes the way the funnel looks not just for millennials but for marketers too.”

She said Asian consumers typically have their mind made up when they walk into a store. What drives great retail businesses is a really smart multi-channel approach. “I think the best ones are pushing it in more traditional offline communication,” said Horowitz-Burdick, who before Sephora founded Luxola.

Picking celebrities who are not only famous, but are really smart about using social media is critical. “Do you want to pick a Kardashian or a model that doesn’t really use social media?” she questioned. “For us, we really look to work with not just celebrities with large followings, but someone who can give us a differentiated measure of engagement."

Optimising online and offline data

Ganesh Kashyap, director ecommerce for Mondelez, recounted how online and offline data in China is helping Mondelez achieve at least $1 billion in ecommerce revenues by 2020.

Oreo was losing considerable market share in China, Kashyap said. Women between 25 and 30 weren’t consuming Oreo for a couple of reasons: the filling was too overwhelmingly sweet and it wasn’t something consumers could eat without guilt.

Using market research panel data, the firm developed Oreo Thins to target this segment. But when the product launched online, response remained tepid.

“What we started to use was data that was coming back,” said Kashyap. “We tilted the cookie and showed the difference between the original cookie and Oreo Thins. This drove CTR and sales and helped Oreo [Thins] become a $60 million business in China.”

Nespresso’s head of ecommerce, James Hansford, said the company is far from cracking the data conundrum, but that looking at customer behaviour gets them them one step closer. “Customer journeys are 100 times more challenging,” he said. “We’re online and offline and mapping the customer journey, and attributing sale isn’t easy. We have a lot of data, but trying to interpret that is a massive challenge.”

Retail will mimick the West

According to Jill Standish, senior MD for the retail practice at Accenture, service levels in Asia will start to be challenged because of what consumers are experiencing in other countries. In particular, Standish points to the department store model, where sales reps are segmented and unable to offer complementary services.

Unsurprisingly, buying online will continue to grow, but the notion of omnichannel hasn’t hit the region yet. “It’s going to have to because people will want to decide if they want to go the store or not.”

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