Marketers are rethinking strategies as consumers change the way they shop, says Rajiv Banerjee
The world's largest retailer finds itself at something of a crossroads in the world's most populous nation. Wal-Mart's expected acquisition of Chinese grocery chain Trust-Mart will give the US giant unprecedented scale, catapulting it ahead of Carrefour to become the largest foreign retailer in the mainland.
HONG KONG Shell and Citibank have teamed up to launch a co-branded credit card, aimed at broadening their respective customer bases in Hong Kong.
TAIPEI Taiwanese newspapers have suffered a dramatic drop in readership, according to the most recent Nielsen Media Index results, plunging almost five per cent over the last year.
With the 2008 Games on the horizon, Peter Tan is seeing an economic power take shape before his eyes.
With more than 80 exhibitors on display at next month's Singapore Motorshow, Subaru and Mazda are accelerating their branding activities to stand out from the crowd.
Home-grown department store Tangs is undertaking its second fully-fledged brand overhaul since its inception in 1932. The initiative is aimed at elevating the store to the status of international shopping retail giants such as Selfridges and Bloomingdale's, rather than confining itself to local competition. Launching ahead of a high-profile new outlet at VivoCity, creative consultancy Sedgwick Richardson has put in place a new strategy for Tangs which moves away from a focus on heritage for a more cosmopolitan attitude. This will affect every aspect of the company, from internal operations to till receipts. According to Gerard Rezel, VP of marketing and communications at Tangs, the exercise marks the final touch to two years of in-store revamps and merchandising updates. "Everyone's trying to re-invent themselves. It's imperative that we keep pace with customer expectations, both experientially and visually." Traditionally, the brand has been viewed as 'old, value-for-money'. Its new positioning is to be modern, confident, stylish and personable - not unlike the shoppers it wishes to attract. Future advertising campaigns, currently handled by Work Advertising, will adopt the company's new corporate identity guidelines. "Tangs is moving away from being a department store to becoming a lifestyle retail experience," said JJ Lee, regional design director at Sedgwick Richardson. The consultancy thus reset Tangs' previous marketing focus on competing with local department stores, notably Robinson's and Isetan. "When you compare it to stores in Singapore, Tangs is more innovative in its approach," added Lee. The brand revamp comes as the local market becomes cluttered with new malls and retail outlets, such as Zara and Topshop. Meanwhile, according to Rezel, the initiative will also aid Tangs' expansion across the region. He also confirmed that Tangs was eyeing opportunities to licence and wholesale its private labels outside Singapore. Foo Tian Sooi, CEO of Tangs, said "With the new identity serving as a launch pad, Tangs is set to look towards further boundaries and bring this homegrown brand and its various concepts abroad."
Pfizer has launched a new citrus variant of its Listerine mouthwash, tapping into local preference for a sweeter flavour.
Local FMCG company OT has pitched its Formula toothpaste into a showdown against a heavyweight competitor, Unilever's Pepsodent, aiming to put a dent in the latter's 80 per cent market share.
The FMCG giant's Vitality platform is leading a drive towards a more centralised global voice
Motorola is gunning to overtake rival Nokia in the world's emerging markets
Super-premium vodka brand 42 Below has taken the next step in its Asia expansion, launching in two key markets in China - Beijing and Shanghai. The supporting marketing campaign features mainly below-the-line executions developed by creative boutique Confucius Says in conjunction with 42 Below, including showcase events, cocktail-making competitions, online viral initiatives, public relations and word-of-mouth. "There has been a huge investment in hotels, bars and restaurants in China, and the money that has gone in there really has created some of the best bars worldwide," said Geoff Ross, chief executive of New Zealand-based 42 Below. "(China has) done it in a way where they realise they have to catch up and be at the cutting edge," he added.Squarely pitched at affluent consumers in China, Ross - former DDB New Zealand managing partner and Saatchi & Saatchi NZ suit - admits the biggest challenge will be attracting high-end Chinese drinkers, who typically favour incumbent luxury brands, Grey Goose (Bacardi) and Belvedere (LVMH). "That's what we're starting to work on now, but we're a bit different. We're just one brand whereas they're both from a group of brands," said Ross. Creatively, Ross said the brand would approach consumers in its renowned cheeky and irreverent way, a tactic which Ross says differentiates the brand from its competitors. The China launch of 42 Below comes after a busy twelve months in Asia, which has seen the brand rollout in Singapore, Thailand, Japan, Malaysia, Indonesia and most recently, Hong Kong. 42 Below will handle media planning and buying in-house.
The Amazing Race's ratings fortune has been mixed in the US. Will the made-in-Asia show fare better? By Jim Murphy
Hudson's, a 40-year-old maker of cough drops and medicated candies, has asked Alchemy Partnership of Singapore to overhaul its image. "Hudson's lost out on an entire generation of consumers. It's one that most 40-year-olds grew up with, since the candy was often used to mask cigarette-breath," said Raj Mulani, executive partner of Alchemy. "But most people in their 30s and under have never heard of it." Mulani said the medicated candies category is dominated by Halls and Ricola, both aggressive advertisers with strong youth awareness. "Customers in this category tend to be promiscuous. Hence, to stimulate organic growth, Hudson's knew it had to rejuvenate its image." The agency is working on a new look, package design, ad campaign and products for the Petra Foods brand, which is due to roll out in Singapore and Malaysia later this year.
BANGKOK Marking a departure from traditional advertising, Mitsubishi Motors has unveiled plans to launch a 25 million baht (US$653,000) high-visibility reality show, featuring its Lancer Evolution marque in the lead role. "The current Lancer model is approaching its final year and we want a strong communication plan to strengthen the brand and maintain our share of market before the new model is launched in 2007," said Vorravith Boonvongsobhon, general manager, advertising, Mitsubishi Motors Thailand. At present, the market size for passenger cars in Thailand numbers approximately 190,000 units, with Mitsubishi accounting for five per cent of the segment. Loosely based on the Amazing Race format, the EVO Challenge show has been developed in conjunction with MEC Thailand and incorporates a campaign to build awareness of the show. "Due to fierce competition (in the passenger car segment), Mitsubishi Motors was looking for an effective communication package to enhance brand value and excitement," said Petch Phaewphraikul, managing director, MEC. "The typical television slot is no longer the most effective vehicle - the branded content TV programme, running for around one hour, allows the brand to communicate much more." Mitsubishi Motors will invite contestants aged 20 to 35 to participate in the challenge. The race will search for the 'perfect driver', who must be fit both mentally and physically, as well as have the skills to drive the automobile. "This show is not about finding a race car driver, but a smart and responsible driver," added Petch. The show will air on ITV from September 5 to November 28. A 15-seond TVC, print, online and radio ads and various public relations events will roll out through July and August to recruit participants, under the umbrella tagline 'Sports spirit - excite your senses'.
Martell and Hennessy move to woo entry-level drinkers away from white spirits and champagne
Nokia has emerged as China's leading business brand, according to a survey by Global Sources magazine Chief Executive China (CEC). Covering 20 products and services - including business hotels, mobile phones, desktop PCs and airlines - the survey ranked the brands according to admiration, market share, preference and vitality. The top five brands ranked were Nokia, China Merchants Bank, FedEx, McKinsey and Lenovo. "Brand reputation is, in most cases, consistent with brand market share and next purchase choice," said Craig Pepples, CEC publisher and COO, Global Sources. He added that the biggest surprise was the upward movement of Lenovo. "We believe Lenovo will become the number one brand in the whole PC sector in China."
Health and beauty chain Watson's has unveiled a new sub-brand, cosmetic store Pure Beauty, at the city's Times Square shopping mall. The new 'experience-focused' store was developed in response to research, which indicated that customers want more brands, product sampling, independent advice and a soft and bright shopping environment, according to Maria Norrman, Watson's merchandise director. Norrman noted that Pure Beauty would offer semi-luxury brands at affordable prices, aimed at customers looking to upgrade from supermarket brands. The store features 'play areas' where customers can sample products, read about the new brands on offer as they browse the store, and speak to unaffiliated health and beauty experts, who will offer advice across all brands. A large pharmacy has also been set up on site. In addition, free make-up and nail services will be offered to customers. Norrman said a key point of difference was that the store bridged the health and beauty shopping experience by selling vitamins and supplements alongside cosmetics, fragrances, skincare products and professional hair treatments. In addition, advice from trained nutritionists and dieticians would be available. "There will be a comfortable, facilitated and very varied customer experience." The store will stock more than 4,000 products from more than 530 brands. Nearly 100 of these will be exclusively available at Pure Beauty. These include US skincare brand Dermapro, Australian organic skincare product Natural Source and French medicated haircare product Ozon.
Marketing, advertising and sales companies are experiencing lengthy delays in filling positions in Hong Kong and China, according to figures released by recruitment firm Ambition.
The 2006 Mid Year Report shows that recruitment processes are taking far longer than at the same point last year - up to 30 per cent longer on average, due to new headcounts prompted by a robust regional economy and a shortage of key talent.
Ambition's research indicates that for the media industry alone, there are 15 to 20 per cent more vacancies than last year, and salaries are increasing by up to 20 per cent for specialised roles. The report uncovered significant demand for marketers within the media, professional and financial services industries.
Ben Anderson sees sport as a driving force behind the iconic whisky brand's regional aspirations, as Sara Yin discovers