Detachment from what companies promise their customers and what they deliver costs brands millions every year. To close this experience gap and action on its hypergrowth plan in Indonesia, M&C Saatchi has launched a new specialism called M&C Saatchi Shopex. The division is designed to deliver omnichannel shopper and brand experience solutions to clients.
Co-founders Anish Daryani, Dami Sidharta and Elki Hendria have on board Michael (Mike) Forster as managing director of M&C Saatchi Shopex. Prior to this, Forster was the CEO of Geometry Global Korea. He's helmed various regional and global roles at WPP agencies for over 19 years, out of which 12 were in APAC markets specialising in brand building, client relationships, with a focus on brand activation and shopper marketing.
Commenting on the move, Anish Daryani, founder and president director of M&C Saatchi Indonesia, says, “As a specialism, we will map and curate customer journeys, online, offline and everything in between. Not only do we have the capability of creating memorable experiences, but also measure their impact with respect to how they contribute to commerce. In Mike, we see the leadership and experience to make M&C Saatchi Shopex one of the most profitable verticals of our business, while delivering value to our clients at many multiples over their investments.”
For Shopex, M&C Saatchi is dipping in its pool of 60 execution partners, including 20 partners for brand support in the 34 provinces of Indonesia and 17 shopper technology partners. The vertical will rope in retailers and ecommerce platforms on the supply side, and work with brands on the demand side.
With its young and growing population and newly classified status as an industrialised country, Indonesia is a robust part of the growing supply chain that feeds Asia, but Forster says, "it is still far behind consumers’ expectations around brand experience." Campaign Asia-Pacific caught up with the newly appointed managing director as he transitions from Seoul to Jakarta in his new role to understand how he plans to bridge the brand experience gap in the market.
Tell us about your new role and the launch of Shopex in Indonesia.
I was seduced by the stupendous growth story of M&C Saatchi Indonesia and was eager to be a part of it. This new specialism is focussed on transforming brand experience to commerce. It’s stimulating to be creating something new. We create experiences that will lead to conversion and sales. Our specialised, retail-related offering compliments the delivery of the existing agency team. My job is to drive thought leadership for turning consumers into buyers for our brands for a seamless brand experience.
In this highly competitive age, consumers don’t just expect exceptional experiences, they demand it. How does Shopex plan to disrupt the market, and what makes its offerings different from what the industry has already witnessed?
The value proposition for consumers needs to be better than what it currently is in Indonesia. CMOs we have spoken to here admit that their brand experience isn’t as seamless or as consistent as it should be, since they now manage a large stable of agencies to deliver different parts of their communication mix. Our understanding of consumer engagement along every stage of the purchase journey and our ability to deliver this through our unique blend of in-house and partner teams, combining data and technology with creativity, means we can create the ideal experience for a brand, whatever the brief or in-market need. Every touchpoint is an opportunity for experience and to sell.
Talk about the scope of services of Shopex and from brands' perspective, how can their experience be improved?
Our scope of services includes shopper strategy, retail design and production, shopper technology, planogramming, interactive display technology, events and activation, metaverse solutions, ecommerce integration (O2O) as well as shopper performance research and analytics, among others.
To do this, we’ve created a proprietary tool called the “experience gap”. We can literally measure the gap arising between the brand’s intent, consumer’s expectations, and actual experience to determine needs for improvement in the consumer journey. Strategic and creative intervention at every touchpoint of the customer journey can help close a given brand’s experience gap. It also takes into account post-purchase experience, which is ignored in many cases. Furthermore, brands need to acknowledge that every touchpoint needs to be both an experience and a purchase opportunity, as that’s what consumers expect.
How is Indonesia different from the other key Asian markets when it comes to consumer expectation around brand experience?
I think Indonesia is not that different to other Asian markets in the impact good brand experience can have on brand loyalty and brand trust. However, what’s unique about Indonesian consumers is that they’re extremely value conscious, and yet have the least resistance to try new brands and experiences. Which is where we believe we can help brands offer greater value to their lives.
This is particularly true in three key areas: They feel the value exchange they receive from engaging with many brands doesn’t meet the balance of entertainment, information, and incentive they would like. Here entertainment is a key driver for both online and IRL experience and consumers expect that brands will deliver both, always. Secondly, the success of super-fast delivery here means that all brands need to be available for delivery on demand, no matter how small the outlay, and that’s not always the case. Lastly, after sales customer service needs to improve here in many sectors.
What challenges are you anticipating in the Indonesian market?
Doing something new to shake up the market always has adoption issues, of course.
Secondly the size and diversity of Indonesia provides us with a challenge but that’s where our network of 20 provincial partners comes in and will be crucial to our ability to deliver nationally. Thirdly, bits of what we do are done by other agencies who act in the capacity of generalists, and they may only deliver that one service. So naturally, they are going to be challenged by a specialism like ours that can deliver omnichannel solutions, and this should make them nervous. We are looking forward to the challenges though as we really believe the consumers are ready for what we want to deliver.
What does the break-even timeline look?
We’ve handpicked a team of specialists with rare skillsets, and this involves a significant investment. This is important, because when you come up with a disruptive and differentiated offering, you need to be prepared to walk the talk. Having said that, we do have an existing pipeline of clients to work with and will be aggressive in our client acquisition approach. We hope to break even by end of Q1, 2023.
Any expansion plans? What does the future hold?
Yes, we believe our model and approach is relevant to many other markets as consumers controlling where, when how and what they purchase applies everywhere. However, because of cultural differences, execution will need to be tailored for different markets. Going forward, we’d make our services available to our network offices in Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, and India, through a hub-and-spoke model. But we’re also very excited about extending this to Vietnam and Thailand, owing to the maturity of these markets.