Faaez Samadi
Dec 19, 2018

With data, face your fears and do the basics

Getting your data in order reaps big rewards, but only if you accept the hard truths it can tell you about your marketing, Edmund Lee of Red Bull said at Re.Con Malaysia.

For all brands struggling to understand their data, it’s critical to start at the very beginning and do the simple things correctly, according to Red Bull’s Southeast Asia head of marketing.

Speaking at the recent Re.Con Malaysia conference, held in partnership with Ada, Edmund Lee said his company saw an incredible turnaround in fortunes simply by making sense of their data. Setting the scene, Lee said in 2017 Red Bull Malaysia’s market share shrank, and it had not met sales targets for two years.

“Leadership said: ‘If you didn’t hit your numbers for two years running, shares are at their lowest point, how can you ask for more budget?’,” Lee explained. “This is a common problem marketers face. We still had to grow in 2018, and data was our only resource.”

Lee’s first piece of advice was that all brands need to “face the fear and reality that data brings”. He said this meant facing some very hard truths internally about Red Bull’s business and marketing performance.

“Data has the tendency to unearth a lot of counterintuitive things,” he said. “It has the ability to challenge what we think we know, to call into question decisions made by certain people.”

Lee said it is also imperative that marketers take more responsibility for data analytics and deriving insights, and not just rely on agency partners to do it for them.

“Sometimes an agency’s insights are, with no disrespect, very broad,” he said. “As clients, it is our responsibility to make sure that whatever insights shared by agencies are validated. We made a mistake [in 2017] in that we did not validate our insights.”

Equally, Lee was quick to add, an agency’s output is only as good as the brief a client gives it, so having staff more conversant with data meant crafting more informative briefs, which led to better outcomes on both sides.  

Lee highlighted the difference in Red Bull’s advertising (above) once it had organised its data and insights, adding that the 2018 version (right) greatly outperformed its predecessor.

“It spoke to our consumers, identified who they were, what they were consuming us for,” he explained. “It sets out a good reason for them to buy us. Very simple, basic, fundamentals, which we can get from usage and attitude research and our brand tracker data.

“A lot of these principles aren’t new. It is the discipline of implementing your insights that will make a difference. You don’t really need anything new or ground-breaking, a lot of this is in the fundamentals.”

Lee said the results saw Red Bull regain all its lost market share in 2018, exceed its sales volume targets, and meet its profit targets, on the same 2017 media spend.

“It doesn’t have to be state of the art, it’s using the data that you have and doing the segmentations you’re supposed to do. It’s going back to basics, looking at your content and your consumers,” he said.

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