Inside Mondelez' fearless talent sessions at Spikes

SPIKES ASIA - By 2020, Mondelez expects a considerable portion of its growth to come from e-commerce in Asia, driven by high mobile penetration, urbanisation and a growing middle class seeking safer food, Ganesh Kashyap, director of China ecommerce said at the company's session on the sidelines of Spikes Asia.

L-R: moderator Ryan Pestano of Amobee, Harrison, Gao, Anger, Mitchell
L-R: moderator Ryan Pestano of Amobee, Harrison, Gao, Anger, Mitchell

Speaking at the Spikes Asia Fearless Talent initiative, Lazada CMO Andrea Baronchelli noted that mobile penetration and social commerce is driving a lot of the company’s plans.

Kashyap also noted the shift in Asia to mobile. “Social commerce as a way to driving impulse purchase is a big area of focus for us. And we’re really working with our e-tail customers to drive impulse moments in the online shopping environment.”

This has resulted in a change in the hiring process, with the company imbibing an entrepreneurial startup mentality. “We are investing in bringing and developing the right talent," Kashyap said. "We want those startup skills in the context of an multinational company. So I think that represents both a challenge and opportunity.”

How eastern-marketed products are becoming a global household name

According to Byran Rakowski, equity director for the Asia biscuits portfolio at Mondelez International, many global executives based in the United States assume that Asia is somehow behind. To change this perception, Rakowski said the company sends its global team members to Asia to get a “better sense” of the realities in the region.

One such case was when Mondelez sent a global team member to Calcutta, to see firsthand the social and business environment in India. “The guy was stepping in dog shit," he said. "It was wild, but at the same time he saw that India was far more advanced than he realised.”

Nicki Kenyon, vice president of marketing at Visa Asia-Pacific agreed that companies with global teams based in the US are particularly blind to the realities in Asia. 

“Most multinationals still have their head offices and global teams based out of the US with staff that have little experience in Asia,” said Kenyon. “To have an effective global team you need truly global people.”

Ruth Stubbs, CEO of Dentsu Aegis Network's iProspect Asia-Pacific, commented on the power of Asia and how in many respects, the tables have turned.

“Are Asian brands really interested in cracking the West?” Stubbs asked. “Because all the growth is right here in Asia. And I think that Western brands that come out to Asia are starting to ask if they want to go back to the west.”

“In the East, there’s a lot more to play with,” Stubbs added. 

Creating fearless talent

In another session, Pete Mitchell, director of global innovation at Mondelez, talked about the “enormous pressure” in the industry from startups and tech companies. According to him, these firms are disrupting the way people traditionally thought of working, creating a real war on talent. The FMCG company is now promoting and positioning itself as a hub for fearless talent—offering more involvement and responsibility to staff.

“The beauty of the idea is embracing the construct of being fearless,” said Band Breen, founder and CEO of Qnary, an employee advocacy company working closely with Mondelez. “They are celebrating people doing that both inside and outside the company.”

Mobile forward, mobile first

As a market, China has fewer restrictions on the use of data for marketing and as a result its use is far more developed than Western nations, said Mitchell. "There are things Google can do with data but won't do at present," he said. "But as the next generation grows increasingly comfortable with giving up personal data and with mobile targeting, the rest of the world will catch up with China."

Mobile, agreed Chris Harrison, ZenithOptimedia's chief strategy officer, is a "massive megaforce that's driving us" and with or without third-party data it's obvious that we're arriving at a point that is mobile only, with China leading the charge.

Alimama is already keeping track not only of purchases but purchase intent, said Michael Gao, who heads Alimama's mobile business. "For example, we sell cars on Taobao and JDMall, and we started to realise that people mostly bought MPVs when they had children and needed a larger car. So, using this data, instead of a normal price promotion, we asked manufacturers to give a very good, German-made baby seat as a gift." The move paid off in increased sales.

Another thing unique to China is how comfortable its consumers are with the use of their data. A study on consumer perceptions around the use of personal data has shown a gap between reality and perception everywhere except China, according to Adam Anger, GM for APAC at Microsoft Advertising. "It found that users thought they were only giving away, say, 60 per cent, but in reality, there's a further 20 to 30 per cent publishers are taking. In China, that gap between perception and reality is very minimal. Users are very aware they're being used. They're resigned to it."

Programmatic in Asia

Too much jargon in the programmatic world intimidates marketers, according to Anthony Ho, marketing director, media, at Mondelez. “The big thing is it is evolving, and so as a marketer gets up to speed with something, another thing changes and you have to constantly be on top of it.”

For him, automated buying has been a game changer because of the richness in data. “How do we define customers? How do we target? Retarget? That’s where the richness is. It allows you to change messaging, and that’s really critical for us.”

In China, the company has doubled the amount of money spent on programmatic. One of the things driving the increase is transparency. “We’re now clearer about who we are serving and are able to target much better,” Ho added.


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