In 2014, the relationship between a brand and its consumers will draw closer, as marketers increasingly take the 'personal' approach to reach out to their target audience via social-media tools such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and even new platforms such as SnapChat, in an effort to make their brands more relevant to their consumers.
Consumers want to know that they are being heard by their favourite brands, and the advent of social-media platforms has brought about an engagement level like never before. Consumers can now post a comment or a tweet, and brands that are active on social media can respond accordingly.
But as with all forms of interactivity, this is a two-way street. So not only are consumers able to speak to brands, but we are also able to use these platforms to add a personal touch in our engagements with consumers while also gaining insights into their behaviours. For example, when we launched our 4K TVs in 2012, many marvelled at the picture quality but balked at the price. We heard their concerns and have since brought the price point down to a more affordable level.
The engagement between the brand and consumer must also be an experiential one. As one of the largest consumer-electronics brands in the world, we want our consumers to be moved by our products, especially through powerful content and visuals.
For Sony, content marketing is particularly useful in this area. For example, we have just launched the “Sony – Power of Imaging Southeast Asia” Facebook Page, our first online community for camera enthusiasts. The page showcases images taken with Sony cameras from professional photographers, as well as contributing members of the public who are looking for an avenue to share their pictures. This allows us a channel to not only bring relevant product releases and information to our target audience, but also bridge the gap between our brand and our consumers to develop a stronger brand following.
Marketing budgets may become tighter in the future, but at Sony, we will continue to enhance our customer touchpoints, customer communications and post-purchase activities. For example, we will be opening our fifth store in Singapore at nex mall this year.
Consumer insight will also play a big role in helping us decide on the most effective way to communicate to our target audience. Instead of just knowing where, when and how consumers are spending their money, we want to find out how the products they purchase will influence their lives. By understanding the motivations and thoughts of our consumers, Sony will be better placed to highlight how a particular product caters to an individual customer’s wants and needs, based on features and specs. Hence, understanding such consumer insights will help us to translate such research into actionable, effective marketing tactics.
In terms of the mobile space, Sony will continue to focus on enhancing social-media interactions and the compatibility of our web content for mobile devices. For example, we have recently launched a new cloud-based photo and video service in Singapore, which allows consumers to easily sync, organise, and recall all their memories.
Undeniably, there will be several challenges for marketing ahead in 2014. One of the biggest for us is getting the right media mix for different product categories to the right consumer targets. Since Sony has a large portfolio of consumer-electronics products, our aim is to find the right voice for each product category and the best way to speak directly to our target consumer. While this may prove to be a challenge, it is also an exciting task to undertake. We will continue to apply data analytics and consumer insights to fine-tune our approach, as well as benchmark our strategies against best practices in other industries, so that we as we learn from the best, we can continue striving for the best as well.
Chang Seng Hock is deputy director and head, sales AHQ centre for Sony South East Asia (a division of Sony Electronics)