The event began with an overview session by Vishal Bali, MD of consumer insights at Nielsen Southeast Asia-Pacific (Nielsen is Campaign Asia-Pacific's partner in the Asia's Top 1000 Brands research). He noted that consumer electronics and retail still ruled the roost and that there was just one FMCG company in the top 10 of the report. “This tells you how the consumer mindset is shifting and how these brands have been successful in connecting with them,” he said.
In a clear indication that differentiation is key, he said as many as 300 brands registered declines in their rankings, making way for certain “new age players”. Bali attributes this to Asians becoming much more sophisticated, seeking premium brands with better customer experience.
According to Bali, emerging markets require a different approach, and that Nielsen research underscores the existence of two sets of consumers: those that are emerging and those that have emerged.
Consumer segmentation has also undergone a change. He said 'super consumers' are the new 'holy grail' of segmentation and urged brands to market more at a category level rather than a brand level. Super consumers comprise just 10 per cent of households but account for more than 40 per cent of category growth and 50 per cent of profits.
“On average super consumers of one category are likely to be super consumers in nine other sectors,” he said. “Brands should make connections around this because they are important to your trade partners.”
In a presentation on effective branded content, John Williams, VP advertising for BBC, ASEAN and India, shared some case studies. For example, he discussed Emirates, which wanted to reposition itself as a lifestyle brand and separate from its competitors.
BBC Advertising delivered a multi-platform tool called Collaboration Culture, a series featuring 14 leading personalities in music, fashion, food and art in seven cities. The creative included seven 22-minute programmes on BBC World News, a section on bbc.com, an exclusive campaign on TV and online, an event in Dubai and a cross-platform digital strategy.
Next, Ranga Somanathan, chief operating officer for Starcom MediaVest Group, took the stage to moderate a panel on content marketing. He was joined by Edwin Koh, head of corporate affairs, Far East Organisation and Christina Lim, brand marketing, NTUC Fairprice.
Koh said content marketing is not new. “What is happening right now is that consumers themselves are co-creators, and that is changing the dynamics.”
Lim’s deep dive with content marketing began four years ago. NTUC Fairprice wanted to tell a story about families coming together over food, so it created a reality series and shared videos on TV, online and in-store. What was different about this was that the firm started off by telling a story and then went on to decide which channel to promote it on.
Another panel discussion followed, featuring marketing heads of various high-performing brands moderated by Atifa Silk, brand director of Campaign Asia-Pacific. Participants included Mark Liversidge, head of marketing Asia Pacific for Hilton Worldwide; Ken Mandel, MD Hootsuite; Frederique Covington, international marketing director, APAC, MENA, Canada for Twitter; Anthony Shiner, chief revenue officer, GDL, SingTel Advertising.
Mandel said consumers expect brands to be online. These well-networked consumers will outpace marketers that are not using technology to listen and engage with the community, he warned.
Shiner felt education is a key component in the discussion. “At the topline, CMOs broadly understand diversifying spend, but you’re not seeing the consistency flow down.”
According to Liversidge, the biggest challenge facing Hilton is talking in one voice with local variances. All social-media tools are different and it is important to understand how they work and the way the audience operates within each, he said.
Twitter’s Covington predicted that Asia would drive the internet. “You’re going to see the next billion of middle class emerging in Asia and all multiscreen behaviours will happen here,” she said. She urged brands to use that as an opportunity to turn Asia into global centers and take knowledge from this region. “I think we’re going to see a fundamental recrafting of the role of brands,” she said.