Gabey Goh
Sep 22, 2015

Connections and context the key to navigating Asia for top brands

SINGAPORE - When marketing to a region as complex and diverse as Asia, top marketers agree that ensuring consumers feel connected to the brand through storytelling, engaging at the right time and context are keys to success.

A Top 1000 Brands panel discussion (see full caption below)
A Top 1000 Brands panel discussion (see full caption below)

That was the general consensus from this morning’s breakfast briefing hosted by Campaign Asia-Pacific in Singapore, the third installment of a three-city event in conjunction with the 2015 Asia's Top 1000 Brands report.

Gary Scattergood, head of content for Campaign Asia-Pacific noted that brands worldwide are at the crossroads of change with how they approach the science of marketing, with new tools and platforms.

“And to do so while maintaining a genuine connection with consumers via the art of engagement and storytelling is no mean feat," he said. "Companies that have made it to our Top 1000 list are those that have found that unique formula, which has enabled their brands to resonate with consumers with much success.”

In giving an overview of the “Asian consumer”, Connie Cheng, shopper practice leader for Southeast Asia, North Asia and Pacific at Nielsen, noted that the region boasts some of the most confident consumers in the world and a large, emerging middle class that’s willing to spend.

“I urge marketers to actively seek to understand and unlock the opportunities in different population growth trends affecting different markets and to keep an eye on the rising middle class,” she said.

Irene Ng, VP marketing for Samsung Electronics in SEA and Oceania, said that the brand’s formula for success lies in focusing on its three core pillars of leading innovation, customer focus and corporate citizenship.

Irene Ng

The morning’s discussions were wide-ranging and dealt many of issues facing marketers in the region, from maintaining perception in a fragmented communications space to finding ways to resonate with consumers to adopting new digital tools for measuring effectiveness.

The following are some of the key lessons:

  • Contextual advertising and messaging is set to become a bigger focus as marketers and agencies alike recognize the higher engagement to be yielded from targeting consumers at the right time, with the right intent via mobile touchpoints.
  • Resonating with customers must first come from a place of authenticity, as contrived stories or attempts can be easily discerned and will quickly do negative damage to any brand.
  • Working with customer data to better profile and target campaigns is hugely beneficial, but navigating data-privacy laws from market to market is a challenge requiring innovative ways to work within the boundaries of the law.
  • Whether online or off, marketers still look to two key factors when evaluating their media spend strategy: the reach a platform can provide and the level of engagement it can offer with audiences. Finding a balance between digital and traditional media remains the most effective way to ensure comprehensive reach with all target segments.
  • With content marketing, marketers who think of the brand first, before the customers, in the crafting of stories to tell will quickly find failure.
  • Creating a seamless customer experience across offline and online touchpoints remains an ongoing challenge for many marketers, but many agree that experimentation and being able to reiterate is an important part of the process.
  • The role of programmatic networks and creative in the overall marketing strategy is still being evaluated by many brands, and in varying stages of maturity across the region. Making sense of the complicated provider landscape is a work in progress, and the long-term return on investment is still unclear at this stage.
  • More education is still needed internally when it comes to the willingness of brands to share data with third-party entities, with more reassurance required to instill confidence over data protection and security.

During the final discussion of the day, Laura Ashton, marketing leader for Asia-Pacific and global relationship marketing at consulting firm A.T. Kearney, shared one piece of advice: “For marketers who want to be able to sit at the table, you must always remember to be the voice of the customer—to have that ‘outside-in’ perspective,"she said. "Because too often that voice is missing in the room."

Top image, L-R: Scattergood; Oliver Chong, AVP, brand and marketing communications, StarHub; Deborah Goldingham, head of Marketing, Southeast Asia, MasterCard Worldwide; Alistair McEwan, SVP commercial development Asia & ANZ, BBC


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