Consumers have less time and access to more content than ever. It’s a difficult predicament, but brands and their media partners are addressing an increasingly on-the-go populace with seamless communication methods to cut through industry noise. On 15 November Campaign Asia-Pacific partnered with Williams Lea Tag to discuss the progress made and the obstacles encountered in the face of multi-channel marketing. The event on the day, Championing Multi-channel Brands, brought together thought leaders from across the industry.
Frankie Li, marketing director, Hong Kong and Taiwan at Reckitt Benckiser, first offered insight on the multinational consumer goods company’s varied methods across mobile in the APAC region. In Mainland China, for example, WeChat was the obvious channel for reaching audiences. But that strategy fell flat when those consumers left the country, “we found out that they want to use Google, YouTube, and other platforms that they can’t reach in China,” said Li, “so, we changed our content.”
Hong Kong and Japan are also on the company’s radar as a travel-happy locales that may require a shift in channel or preference, depending on where they are in the world. Domestically, Li again pointed out, “payment is on the rise. Now I think it’s getting quite big in Hong Kong, and definitely dominating in China.”
Grappling with new, regional-specific channels can be a complex affair when it comes to harmonising brand identity. Mat Morgan, marketing director, Vans APAC at VF Corporation explained, “the challenge is always maintaining brand consistency while adapting to a potential opportunity, especially in Asia—in particular China—where innovation is at the forefront. Gaining commitment and endorsement for the level of localisation that needs to take place requires dedicated communication with our counterparts in different parts of the world.”
US-based furniture mainstay Steelcase had a few kernels of insight in adapting to Asia-focused channels as well. APAC brand director Maria Bourke spoke of the company’s initial difficulties in breaking the American mould of the company, and addressing its “little understanding of the nuances of China, to India, which were key growth markets.”
An overhaul of both traditional and digital channels was in order, and Bourke and her team answered the call with heavy investment in WeChat, refreshed showrooms and catered events, and assembly of a new roster of agency partners including photographers, journalists and copywriters throughout Asia. “I had to start working heavily with the markets to tailor visuals, tailor content on quite varied channels,” said Bourke, “These changes are really helping Steelcase, and our business is helping the people in our workplace become more productive and more creative about how they solve their challenges every day.”
Suyoung Yoo, marketing director, international TV distribution, Southeast Asia at Warner Bros., is also experienced in the realm of localising channel distribution, with Warner Bros. now catering pockets of its content to regional specific demographics. The strategy Yoo set forth was straightforward, and might well be taken to heart by APAC brand marketers, “In Asia the challenge is, whoever gets there first, most conveniently, most cheaply, will win the consumer’s time.”
Making marketing dollars count
As Yoo expounded, measuring a project’s cost against its effectiveness seems obvious enough, but prioritising these efforts internally can be a challenge. Angela Clowry, APAC financial services brand, marketing and communications leader at EY explained, “Everything contributes. If you think about the way that you enable that within your organisation—investing in talent or investing in hard dollar costs of advertising, for example—when you bring this to different stakeholders it’s going to be a different conversation, getting them invested in different areas.”
These concerns over strained budgets are very real. Hina Wainwright, marketing director, APAC and global head of marketing at Williams Lea Tag surmised “Budgets aren’t doubling in size with the number of new channels available, therefore we need to be more efficient in our spend in order to reinvest effectively.”
While it’s wonderful in theory to blast out campaigns over VR and AR, for examples, the cost of such projects is just being stacked on top of existing marketing channels that aren’t exactly diminishing either. Yoo described the struggle, “More channels means we’re spreading out our resources. Everybody wants to use these touchpoints, but sometimes you have to choose what has the better ROI. But then you have this pressure of trying new things, you don’t want to feel like you’re left out.”
Yoo raises an interesting point on the coercion many brands are facing in adapting to these newer communication portals. However, one’s investment in them is largely dependent on industry. Those in financial services, for example, are spot on in sticking with the traditional.
Carman Lam, head of branding and advertising, APAC at BNP Paribas, weighed in from the sector, “We’re not that fancy. Our multi-channel marketing is digital, and of course other touchpoints—events, forums. Events are easy to evaluate.”
In the right environment, however, some brands are starting to experiment with new channels. Clowry offered insight, “One of the things that we’re looking at is more experiential, above the line, out of home, which is pretty cool. We’re at the start, but it’s one way in which we’re evolving our channels.”
At the end of the day, the right process for multi-channel marketing is variable. The trends and the numbers match up nicely for some—the forecast for AR and VR market size, for one, is set to grow to a whopping US$209.2 billion by 2022. But for others, the cost may simply outweigh the reward, or altogether miss a brand’s target audience. Wainwright summed up the game plan nicely, “It’s about balancing what’s core to the marketing function and what we need to focus on energy on.”