HONG KONG, Mar 22 – MarketingPulse, Asia’s premier conference and rendez-vous for marketers and brands, launched with a debut edition yesterday at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre. Hosted by the HKTDC, more than 1,200 corporate executives, marketing and advertising agency representatives and brand reps from across Asia attended the inaugural annual event.
This year’s MarketingPulse invited more than 40 experts in brand management, marketing and advertising from nine countries and regions to share their insights, success stories and best practices with the participants. The event also featured an Exhibition Zone and offered business matching service to help marketing professionals capture more business opportunities.
– Embracing change and focusing on the customer
The first plenary session was entitled “Recipe for a Winning Brand”. It featured Sara Riis-Carstensen, Head of Global Branding of De Beers and former Director of Global Brand Development of LEGO, Kei Suzuki, Director, Ryohin Keikaku Co., Ltd. (MUJI), and Uri Minkoff, CEO and co-founder, Rebecca Minkoff, as speakers. Sara Riis-Carstensen shared her brand building strategies at LEGO and highlighted the importance of “embracing change”.
Sara Riis-Carstensen said that the ever-changing world presents many challenges to building brands. She cited the example of LEGO. Children are one of LEGO’s primary customers. In traditional families, the mother decided which brands her children should go for. Yet as times have changed, the father’s role has grown in importance. To address this societal shift, LEGO created father-and-children themed advertisements.
She added that brands need to be highly sensitive about their target customers and be aware of their images and positioning in the customers’ minds. For example, LEGO found that some parents considered the brand’s products to be mostly toys that required assembly and following instructions.
When the company launched a series of marketing campaigns to highlight how the brand stimulated creativity, such as the “Kronkiwongi” campaign, they centred on children. They featured children telling their personal LEGO stories in advertisements. Sara Riis-Carstensen said this was the way the brand “invited customers to build the brand together.”
– Using high-tech to create new experiences
Uri Minkoff shared the story of how he and his sister established the fashion accessories brand, Rebecca Minkoff. To bring a new brand to the market, the siblings first analysed the prevailing marketing and brand building practices of the fashion industry. They then decided to leverage new technology to deliver unprecedented experiences to their customers, including setting up a self-service brick and mortar store.
When customers enter the store, there is no salesperson to serve them. Instead, the customers select the products from a computer system and the items are delivered to a fitting room. The computer system handles all colour, material or style changes and will process the payment. It was an approach that combined online and offline shopping experiences.
MUJI is another brand that is seasoned in delivering novel customer experiences. The company has been called a “no-brand” brand; it has even forgone an eye-catching logo. Yet the brand has developed a set of values that is highly recognised and globally accepted. Kei Suzuki, the brand’s director, charted the company’s brand building history and shared the brand’s core values.
He said that, by solving problems with design, by overhauling material selection and manufacturing workflow, and by avoiding excessive packaging, the brand will achieve its primary goal to conserve the Earth’s resources. The brand communicates these values to its customers through community engagement campaigns and other means.
– In social media marketing, content is king
As social media rapidly develops, it not only brings people closer together, but transforms brand management, marketing and advertising. At another plenary session, the discussions revolved around social media applications, inviting Maya Hari, Vice President, Asia Pacific, Twitter; Assaf Tarnopolsky, Director of Marketing Solutions, South East Asia, North Asia & Japan, LinkedIn; Evan Greene, Chief Marketing Officer, The Recording Academy (The GRAMMYs); Beverly W Jackson, VP of Social Portfolio Strategy, MGM Resorts International; and JiPeng Men, Vice President and Head of Marketing Division, JD.com, to share their valuable experiences.
The panellists also discussed subjects that included the latest developments of various social media platforms and the dos and don’ts of brand building on social media. Maya Hari said that Twitter’s three key attributes – real-time, transparency and dialogue – have helped the social media platform to become a hub for a variety of information, including news, sports and entertainment.
When brands contemplate their social media strategy, they must consider how they will maintain customer connection, including letting the customers know that the information the brand puts out is relevant to them. Assaf Tarnopolsky shared how LinkedIn promotes the exchange of products, services and information among businesses. He pointed out that this communication model is different from how average companies promote their brands to customers and will require a different operational mindset and approach.
In the same sessions, Evan Greene, Beverly W Jackson and JiPeng Men examined how brands can use different social media platforms to tell stories, build trust and connect customers. Evan Greene and JiPeng Men both mentioned that content is key. Evan Greene believed that only companies that thoroughly understand their brands can create interesting and meaningful messages and content.
JiPeng Men pointed out that before the rise of the social media, superior and inferior content attained a similar reach. However, in the age of information explosion and sophisticated social media platforms, quality content is much easier to stand out and propagate.
If social media platforms are immensely effective, should companies focus on the medium? Beverly W Jackson agreed that this is the trend. She said that MGM has continually boosted its social media budget in recent years. She considered the key success factor to be the marketing team’s creativity, “including in the content they create and in the way that they deliver the messages.”
– Fostering cooperation
MarketingPulse also featured an Exhibition Zone, where 20 companies engaged in new media advertising and marketing, content marketing, search engine optimisation, data-driven marketing solutions, customer service platforms and AI platforms showcased their innovative marketing strategies, technologies and solutions. The exhibitors also highlighted Hong Kong’s marketing prowess.
On-site business matching service was also offered to arrange one-on-one meetings for brands and exhibiting marketing agencies to explore collaboration opportunities. Additionally, the HKTDC organised a variety of networking events for brand representatives and marketing companies to exchange intelligence and build networks.
MarketingPulse received the support and invaluable advice of leading marketing industry organisations, including the Council of Public Relations Firms of Hong Kong, the Hong Kong Association of Interactive Marketing, the HKMA Digital Marketing Community, IAB Hong Kong powered by HKDMA, The Association of Accredited Advertising Agencies of Hong Kong and The Hong Kong Advertisers Association.