The best brands in the region have an insatiable appetite to experiment and learn, while maximising returns from customer data.
Greater ad spend isn’t a magic bullet for greater brand reputation. Yes, if you look at Asia’s Top 1000 Brands you’ll see increased spending tends to correlate with improved ranking. But the brands that benefit the most from their spending undeniably do so by more innovative means.
In our experience launching brands in Asia’s digital age, we’ve seen companies react to the challenges and opportunities of working in a dynamic region. Some have the flexibility and appetite for innovation that allow them to grow with world around them. Others rest on their laurels or shy away from necessary change on a trajectory towards irrelevance.
Nestlé has been in the top 10 rankings since 2010 and recent marketing and ecommerce tactics will likely help defend its ranking in the coming year. Their programme ‘1000 people, 1000 faces’ uses data gathered from users’ at their Tmall.com site and employs a sophisticated algorithm to predict which products that user will likely purchase. Each visitor to the Nestlé Tmall flagship store is then immediately directed to the landing page of the predicted product. Initial tests have shown conversion rates improve by an impressive 50 per cent.
When someone offers you exactly what you want, when you want it and at an agreed price, it’s pretty hard to say ‘no’. That’s precision marketing: knowing your customers’ relevant history and habits so well that, in that very moment, they simply can’t (or won’t) refuse. The prevalence of big data makes customer targeting easier and more relevant.
Elsewhere, being a successful global brand is more like being a local brand across multiple markets – or at least it should be. Done well, brands can use local data and insight to tweak a global product for the needs of individual markets. Better yet, brands can develop local-first products and make the necessary tweaks to introduce those products to the rest of the world.
As demand for localisation increases, so does the importance of maintaining global brand consistency. Brands that over-localise do so at the risk of their global brand identity. Brands that remain too rigid may lose out on localisation benefits altogether. The most trusted brands have learned to balance between consistency of global reputation and flexibility to adapt to local tastes.
In 2014, Panasonic struggled with their online localisation strategy. Too much freedom for local websites led to inconsistent quality and delivery of information, among other variations. By consolidating regional sites onto a centralised platform, Panasonic is able to control consistency across markets, allowing template-like flexibility and local variations to thrive on regional sites within the brand’s global criteria.
For the coming year, brands should focus their capabilities around the effective use of data and customer analytics; How can your data help develop customer-led, experiential marketing and product strategies? Are you both relevant to your local audience and consistent with your overall identity? Give customers a lasting brand experience to remember you for—and a local platform to make every dollar of ad spend count.
Guy Parsonage is partner at PwC Experience Centre, China and Hong Kong and chair of Marketing Society Hong Kong.