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How seismic changes in consumers’ lives are driving a marketing revolution

(Source: Bigstock.)

The impact of Covid-19, innovations in technology and the increasing connectivity of consumers throughout Asia are driving unprecedented change in e-commerce. 

And with that evolution, brands need to review and adapt their marketing strategies to meet changing consumer expectations in what is an increasingly competitive market space. 

Keith Weed, ex global chief marketing & communications officer at Unilever, challenges companies to consider whether or not their marketing has changed enough to address this. 

“Lockdowns and Covid resulted in a scale and speed of change in consumer habits and attitudes not seen in generations. A step-change in consumer lives requires you to step up your marketing. Never has it been so important for marketers to bring the outside in and the future forward to ensure your brand stays relevant,” says Weed. 

“Seismic changes in consumers’ lives require seismic changes in your marketing and advertising. There have been big changes in all our lives – has your marketing kept up?” 

Weed is one of a strong lineup of marketing professionals from major global brands who will be speaking at this month’s MarketingPulse and the eTailingPulse virtual conference in Hong Kong. 

The event – organised by the Hong Kong Trade Development Council – will take place on March 16-17, allowing Asia’s marketers, agencies and e-commerce experts to connect and learn how to innovate customer experiences through inspirational talks from experienced leaders and the industry’s experts. 

“To create a winning marketing strategy for 2022, you can’t expect to use the same playbook as in years past,” explains Melvin Chng, area director (Hong Kong), at Meltwater, another speaker. “Your marketing strategy should be changing alongside the shifts in consumer behaviour and technology – using the right tools and platforms for your audience will elevate your marketing strategy.” 

Kenny Sham, director, head of marketing (Hong Kong, Taiwan and Macau) at The Lego Group, says the continuous challenges brought by the Covid-19 pandemic has driven consumers to adopt new purchasing patterns, creating what he describes as “a totally new online shopping ecosystem”. 

“Consumers are not just focusing on price comparison but also have more desire on product info and experience in the e-commerce space. To win the fierce e-commerce battle, brands should focus on bringing new unique product and brand experience through digital initiatives to differentiate from competitors.” 

Kevin Huang, MD at Carousell Hong Kong, believes more and more SMEs will embrace and adopt e-commerce, continuing Hong Kong’s transformation into a truly digitised city. 

“The effect of this is that consumers will be able to buy almost anything online and right at their fingertips on their mobile phones; from daily necessities to high-value products, such as luxury goods, property or cars through to services such as locksmiths, renovators and helpers. 

“We have seen how fast the world evolves with ever-changing consumer habits and preferences, agility to quickly adapt and change course fast is the norm,” says Huang. “Trends and marketing tools come and go quickly, but the foundational principle and expectation from consumers remain the same: consumers expect a two-way relationship with brands. We need to listen to consumers, observe the changes and needs, and act upon them.”

“People in Hong Kong will be more conscious and think twice before throwing out items that are still in good condition, as well as consider making secondhand their first choice.” 

That trend dovetails with another significant one: how consumers expect brands to have a purpose. 

“Purpose makes brands remarkable,” says speaker Kathy Varol, a purpose strategy expert, who headed Adidas’ Global Purpose Strategy from 2018 to 2020. 

“As consumers, we’re putting our dollars towards companies with aligned values. As employees, we’re looking for meaning in our careers, and the best talent is choosing to work for organisations that feed their hearts as well as their bank accounts,” she says. 

“In the modern world, companies without a purpose beyond profit will be left behind. You can either be a pioneering force for good in your industry, or the disrupted.” 

John Schoolcraft, chief creative officer at Oatly, agrees: “The concept of there being trends in global marketing practice is why most marketing is uninspiring and doesn’t work. If there is one rule I have, it is don’t follow trends of any kind in global marketing practice. How will you ever stand out, if you are following trends to be like everybody else?” 

Tina Chao, chief marketing and digital customer experience officer at McDonald’s Hong Kong, urges all marketers to embrace digital transformation in their marketing strategies. 

“Digital transformation will be on top of every marketer’s priority list. There is no room to wait and see, you’re either in or out.” 

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