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Futurist Live event: “KOL” a useless jargon soon to fade?

The Futurist Live event and cocktail party held this year brought together some of the keenest minds in marketing to not only discuss the next game-changing trends that are likely to impact brands and agencies in 2018, but more importantly, enjoy some Friday drinks.

Well, we did not guarantee that there would be no slip-of-the-tongue.

Dubbed “The Game Changer – the key to the future”, this year’s Futurist Live marks the first Cantonese event that Marketing has ever held. Topics covered included marketing technologies and soft skills that marketers would have to embrace in months to come.

The most useless jargon of the year

With so many “claimed disruptions” going on, marketers agreed they should filter some out. Collaborations with KOLs were in the spotlight of social media marketing this year, yet Hong Kong Airlines global marketing deputy general manager, Jordan Cheung, believes the influencer trend will eventually fade out.

Relating his experiences with sponsored posts being ineffective in reaching and persuading target audiences, Cheung said sponsored content usually brings up more about the KOLs themselves than the brand that sponsored the post, particularly in the aviation and travelling industry.

“You seldom hear people praising the aircraft or the airlines’ services after watching a video – KOLs got sponsored to take different airlines every time and there’s no continuity,” he said. “It’s not as effective as we thought, and we will be putting less in the sector.”

KOLs got sponsored to take different airlines every time and there’s no continuity.

Agreeing with Cheung, Terry Chu, marketing director for Strawberrynet, feels that pretty much everyone can be influential enough to share in what used to be KOLs’ money. For example, its website is now an open platform for anyone to write beauty and cosmetic product reviews, and Chu said they will further develop its website to enable video reviews.

Other marketing jargon that should go the way of the dodo, according to Ravel Lai, regional IT and digital director, Jardine Restaurant Group HK, includes “omnichannel”, “digital marketing” and “big data”.

“Marketing is always done across channels, isn’t it?” he laughed. “‘Digital marketing’ just means everything online. And ‘big data’ basically just means location-based data – it should be the data analysis that matters, though these words give us a grip on what we are talking about.”

‘Omnichannel’ is rubbish. Marketing is always done across channels, isn’t it?

Technology to keep an eye on

On the other hand, A.I. machine learning is here to stay. Lai shared how KFC’s latest digital initiative on smart food-ordering machine, Kolonel Fast Connect, leveraged a chatbot and AI to improve their ordering process, and eventually resulted in a promising revenue increase.

Adobe’s head of solutions consulting, digital marketing, Southen China, HK & TW, Patrick Sum, added that the experience wave is the driver behind most disruptors, for instance the adoption of argumented reality mirrors in Sephora, Rayban and Burberry, or social shopping like getting a second opinion real-time in Nine West.

Blockchain, autonomous vehicles and robotics & drones are other technologies to keep an eye on, Sum added.

Blockchain, autonomous vehicles and robotics & drones are other technologies to keep an eye on.

Ivan Mak, business management evangelist at Domo, Inc, gave marketers tips to access data quickly without help from IT, which many agreed was a pain when adopting new technologies.

Mak pointed out three things that marketers should take care of, including time to value, multimedia source and sales services.

“That means you need a platform that is quick, can connect to different app, as well as offer assistance to front-staff,” he explained.

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