Brands without Borders

Andrew Ho of Face, Hong Kong brought about a challenge to clients to do things differently be putting consumers back into brand development. The Brands without borders presentation was a call to action to push clients to do things differently. To stop and be disruptive to bring consumers back into the heart of the process to allow for harmonisation of brand voice across countries

Co-Creating is about restoring balance versus giving them more control over your brand.  It infuses humanity and effectiveness and can draw deeper insights and stories in real time and avoids “google translation of” the brand message which causes misconceptions and massaged positioning. The use of MROCS and communities allow for regional coverage, rich storytelling and establishes a dialogue on a localised level. This allows clietns to keep it real – making the local consumer language gospel.

Clients should not be afraid to bring online and offline methodologies together because intimacy of say, ethnography, allows clients to get the best of both worlds – breadth and depth. A committed regional brand and agency team to cover all markets  enables synchronised thought leadership and allows both the client and agency teams to use consumer speak for executional honesty.

Superpromoter research

Who are your superpromoters?  You know,  the people who top your NPS and are your true and heart-felt brand advocates.  Do you know them or do you take their commitment as a given and ignore them to focus on your neutral or unsatisfied customers.  Rijn Vogelaar of Blauw Research and Arne van de Wijdeven of Philips International showed how this often forgot group of consumers can indeed be your strongest weapon in your brand arsenal.

The sharing of enthusiasm is a basic need – and your Superpromoters – those who love, live and breathe your products – can help you extend the reach of your brand further through their advocacy.  Instead of focusing only on the unsatisfied customers, focus on the those that are happy consumers and find out why and how to keep them. As Philip Ho noted in his presentation – local language may be the gospel, but your superpromoter is your preacher.

Make a support plan and get to know them to create more enthusiasm. Help them to share and make them more influential and take value in both their support and their critiques, because it is their criticism that is likely to bring about improvements in your brand, as they don’t want to promote something bad to their friends, families or colleagues.  Their own reputation becomes linked with the company. Keep these customers happy and they will recommend your clients brand above the competition  – online, in-store and as Arne showed – occassionally even through creative brand tattoos.  Probably best not to count on that last one…

Growing Brands by Connecting with Deeper Human Motivations 

How can you ensure that your future investments in brands (global or regionally, as in Asia) maximises potential and that the process is more efficient?

Using a case study on why people drink beer, Sue Philips of Censydiam Institute – Ipsos Marketing and Shavani Kappor of Ipsos India,  compared the relative importance of Brand drivers in the US, China and India markets and the subsequent  impact on attitudinal equity to highlight where branding energy should be placed.

According to Sue and Shavani, human motivations are deconstructed by 4 facets – Functional characteristics (What am I looking for?); Social identity (How should it reflect upon me?); Emotional benefits (How will it help me optimise life?); and Personality (What should it stand for?).

For the US, functional characteristics of beer drinking was the most important (making connections and ego-boosting), while for China emotional benefits  (showing of face and performance) slightly outweighed the functional area.  However, in India, the clear winer was personality (how does this represent me and my standing) , in line with many of the earlier presentations on how Indian culture and class awareness drives consumer motivations.

Working within the human motivation framework can be extremely important in a region like Asia, where the culture are so vastly different both within and across borders. By employing this framework researchers can confidently work across borders and capture local differences and Sue and Shavani did in the beer category. It can also help researchers understand the balance between the facets and how they connect to the desire of the mind and of course, what levers to prioritise in strategy and brand planning.

Research communities in Asia Pacific  

As the one of the final speakers, Ray Poynter of Vision Critical (and NewMR fame), gave a great course of MROCS, Communities and how they differ in the value they may bring to Asian researchers.

According to Ray – In 2012, about 3% of global research spend was on insight communities making it the biggest new research tool, 20% of the number of companies who can offer large online projects offer communities – consistent by country and region and 10% – 25% of major brands have a community. 47% of European organisations have reported that they use them, and now, as this conference has shown the interest in them in Asia is growing.

The APAC region is growing fastest in terms of  growth but spend is much less than North America and Europe. When thinking of doing communities in APAC there are a few key issues to take into account, such as the size of the research market, the internet penetration (can be quite low in many places), the maturity of the research market and prevalence of global brands and of course language is a big factor.  The use of English is easiest due to the large array of ready software tools and training.  Next would be Spanish and French.

The  MROCs in APAC  tend to be more qualitative communities, that have started small and use less advanced platforms.  Remember that in smaller markets there is often a need to pool budgets across countries. Ray predicts that in the future the key markets  will be those with the biggest budgets – China and Japan, and that there will be a shirt from short-term to longer qual/ quant communities. Mobile connectivity will be key  ad the integration of  other data sources and big data will be big.

Some tips – Don’t write your own software – there are plenty of good ones out there. Assess the research infrastructure and work with partners. Don’t poison the well – i.e. please don’t do bad communities and make a bad name for them. Once burned twice shy…. And finally, in markets with lower internet penetration, may have to go to mobile.

Panel Discussion: Marketing Transformation

The ESOMAR Client panel discussions have been integral in connecting delegates with client opinions first hand and for allowing dialogue between what clients expect and what agencies can and should deliver for customer-centric approaches. John Trotter, of Tesco Bank Hong, Dieter Deceuninck of Unilever, Singapore, Maryan Broadbent of AIA Group Hong and Miki Nakagawa of Amway Corporation, USA, all gave their unique perspectives  and suggestions to help researchers bring more value from their work and make connect the client more connected and able to understand their consumers.

For many of the clients there biggest challenges where:

  •  Not being able to put a number on the impact of how a customer-centric programme can benefit them.
  •  Making brands more locally relevant
  •  Organisational structures – not having business anaylis and market research under the same vein
  •  The constant expectation that things can be kept at the same level due to long-term loyalty.

Miki noted a very different challenge from the rest, since her company works with consumers who have sought them out to do business (use their franchised business model ). They want loyalty from her company and if changes occur they must be thought out so that the impact doesn’t negatively affect thei consumers’s business model. For those working with industries like this, this is a good thing to keep in mind, as even the smallest changes due to our insights can have a larger impact on their varied customer needs and reputations. Great potential for research here.

John rightly noted that the world doesn’t stand still – customers move in various directions, and researchers are on the front line and should be used more to reflect what is happening “on the front” into business strategies.  He said clients of course know that insights are needed, but researchers need to be able to  tell what client’s what they don’t know and not just what you, as a researcher think they want to know.

Maryan noted that for many clients a real issue is having the right brain people in the company connect with the left brains. They tend to work in ploar universes and until there is a bridge, research may never get the full understanding and appreciation it deserves in the corporate structure. Dieter noted that Unilever has a customer-centric mindset engrained into it’s culture, but that even they must ensure that thisis trained into tier experts and teams to ensure that all data is focused on being aimed to benefit consumers.

The role of data privacy was also brought up and the impact of it on their businesses.  They need partners who understand the new rules and who can help them as well. Overall, the need partners – agencies that they can trust to not only feed them data, but consult with them in entrepreneurial ways (both John and Miki showed immense interest in this as discussed in Kartikeya’s presentation earlier in the conference). Unseen opportunities indeed.  If there was one message from this event it was that Asia is full of them and researchers are by far the best equipped professional to give a true holistic stretagic approach to clients.