Mobile World Congress Shanghai: Quick takeaways for marketers

The next cashless market, what's driving sales for Kellogg, WeChat remains unchallenged.

L-R: Alvin Foo, Ranjit Singh, Jeremy Chan
L-R: Alvin Foo, Ranjit Singh, Jeremy Chan

Here's a few fast takes from sessions and the show floor at the Mobile World Congress Shanghai.

The next cashless market

The astonishing rise of cashless payments through Alipay and WeChat Pay in China has benefitted brands by making it easier for consumers to pay. Looking ahead, India is the fastest developing mobile market after China, and cashless payment became even more relevant following the demonetization policy announced by Prime Minister Narenda Modi last year.

During a session on ‘Engaging your digital consumers’, Aditya Menon, managing director of global digital strategy for Citigroup, said cashless payments have been facilitated by the launch of a common QR code for Visa, Mastercard and RuPay to allow consumers to pay for items with their smartphones.

Anisha Singh, founder and CEO, mydala.com, pointed out that India has a “sachet culture” where consumers to prefer smaller packagings to try products first. “P&G didn’t get it right for a long time until they started selling shampoos in sachets,” said Singh. She said it is the same for payments, as consumers prefer to pay for a portion of the cost online and settle the bill during pickup at bricks-and-mortar stores later.

Bye-bye TV

Kathy Hua, marketing director for Yihai Kerry Kellogg Foods, said the proliferation of touchpoints in China has been the biggest challenge faced by marketers. The very nature of the "mediasphere" calls for brands to have a fragmneted marketing approach, she said.

Nevertheless, she told Campaign Asia-Pacific that the brand has moved on from TVCs, banners or any form of paid media.

“We invest in content advertising," she said. "It’s expensive, but we do it not only as a media impression but as a social start. If you are marketing on social, you need topics. Content gives us the point to start conversation with consumers.”

Instead of doing consumer sampling, Hua said Kellogg now does KOL sampling, as that approach has been the biggest content producer for the brand. Meanwhile, the growing affluence of Chinese consumers means that common cereals may not be good enough. Therefore, Kellogg has introduced granolas, which are 30 percent more expensive than cereals.

“Chinese consumers want a reason to buy, and the reason is usually inspirational rather than economic," she said. "You can’t just tell them that [the product] is nutritional, because there are so many others in the range which are also nutritional." According to her, nearly 70 percent of Kellogg’s sales come from ecommerce, but unlike Indian consumers, Chinese consumers like to buy in bulk when they shop online.

“The Chinese retail market is going through very profound changes," she said. "Buying online has become native to Chinese consumers, with the majority buying on mobile. The new trend means we need to be instantly available, upon the point where consumers see the message, we have to be there."

A VR demo at MWC

WeChat QR-code fatigue?

During a session during the digital consumer summit, Alvin Foo, head of mobility and innovation with Omnicom Media Group, asked the panelists whether consumers are suffering from activation fatigue, or in his words, “a pain in the ass to scan the QR code”.

Jeremy Chan, senior marketing director of Gap Greater China, said Chinese consumers have not displayed such symptoms and added that consumers and brands will be active on the WeChat platform as long as the crowd is there. “WeChat has been a great partner for brands to understand consumer insights,” said Chan.

Gap has found focusing on WeChat more effective than going after the VR and AR trends, Chan added. “In my previous experience with another apparel brand, we tried VR and it was not very successful. I think as brands, we should stick to creating content and storytelling, which we are good at. Live-streaming presents increadible creativity and opportunities for us to tell good stories.”

Ranjit Singh, CEO of FuguMobile, said it is vital to constantly assess the effectiveness of each platform and technology. “WeChat is not the only platform, but that is where the consumers are and we have to be there,” he said.

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