Gowthaman Ragothaman
Sep 3, 2014

Harnessing emerging markets: Technology's role

Can technology connect with emerging markets to develop community engagement?

Gowthaman Ragothaman
Gowthaman Ragothaman

Planning, coupled with a strategic approach is the key to building successful business opportunities in today’s emerging markets. The emerging class consumer remains the last frontier for many advertisers as an opportunity for large-scale growth.

It’s clear to see the attraction and benefits. There is scope to grow, costs are often lower, there is access to new partnerships and joint ventures, as well as new marketplaces. And of course there is the rapid population growth, sustainable economic development and growing affluence. But the risks should not be ignored. They need to be weighed up and assessed. This isn’t about being risk adverse, but about being risk aware.

One of the key themes coming out of new business with emerging markets, is their openness to address risk by adopting new technologies. Very often the infrastructure isn’t in place, so rather than unraveling years of archaic systems, implementation starts from scratch, which is a cost-saving benefit. Rather than adapting systems to fit your needs, you can create tailor-made solutions.

This is most evident in the marketing sphere. The traditional return on investment benefits for a campaign are easier to prove. Just investigate the sales figures.

But marketing has moved on. It’s more sophisticated in its approach. It’s not only about sales. It’s about engagement. It’s about education. It’s about working with your audience and growing with them. How do you measure that?

Technology has changed how we reach our customers. The mobile has moved from being a method of communication to being a campaign manager and content provider. In terms of its marketing use it used to be a one-way send-only tool. With analysis and real-time management, offering insight and consumer understanding, it has become a two-way engagement tool.

The demands of consumers have also changed. It’s not longer passive. There is a greater awareness and a greater need for tailored solutions. There is no one-size-fits-all approach any more. Consumers want immersive experiences. They are aware that they have the purchasing power, and they are brandishing it like a sword. This leads the charge in battle for social media marketing, big data and two-way community engagement.

Data is now mined to ensure that campaigns are tailored to segmented markets based on insight and knowledge of the customer. Brands are waking up to smart ways to reach their target audiences. Why spend your marketing budget on an urban audience if you need to reach rural dwellers? Additionally, the potholes and problems of traditional marketing campaigns are avoided as real-time monitoring negates risk. Technology has given us the tools to segment the market, understand customer needs, customise our marketing campaigns, tweak campaigns to avoid issues, react in real-time and allocated resources efficiently. We can do more with less.

The first aim is no longer to change buying habits. That is the ultimately aim. The challenge is to engage on a personal level, change behaviour and build a long-term relationship based on added value. The long game is the repeat business, not the quick sale.

The best way to mine insight on a large scale is to set a hypothesis and test it with a pilot. This can be based on consumer behaviour, product preferences, consumption choices and buying power. But the data is meaningless unless the hypothesis is tested across markets, across socio-economic groups, across geographical and cultural boundaries. Treating the consumer as an individual is the first step, which provides the bedrock for community engagement.

Marketers need a simplified single-window, a bank of screens in a dedicated room with specialist planning and implementation tools available at a glance, offering real-time information and enabling them to tweak campaigns to address real-time data. Combined with emerging class consumer activation, mobile marketing, category communications planning, ROMI, digital analytics, consulting, content development and management of quick data for insights, the aim is to ensure that campaigns remain relevant, competitive and collaborative, with the emphasis on them being customer centric.

Gowthaman Ragothaman is chief operating officer, Asia Pacific, at Mindshare

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