The year 2020 has been an exceptional one for BORN Group. The agency, which focuses on enterprise commerce and experience design, thrived amidst the pandemic as more businesses looking to adopt digital transformation. In fact, BORN's enterprise commerce expertise won it the prestigious "ECommerce Agency of the Year 2020" award at the Asia eCommerce Awards 2020 last year. This comes as it bagged a total of 17 medals in more than 14 categories that showcased its excellence at end-to-end eCommerce implementations. Some of these include four gold awards in the Best in eCommerce categories for electronics and gadgets; home and office furnishing; entertainment; as well as fashion and apparel.
The agency also demonstrated its experience design expertise by winning three bronze awards in the Loyalty & Engagement Awards 2020. These were for the categories for "Best Online Experience", "Best Use of Technology", and "Best Customer Experience".
BORN also dived deep into the mobile experience sector in 2020, and walked away with four awards at MARKETING-INTERACTIVE's Mob-Ex Awards 2020. These awards saw the agency coming on top of the competition, claiming top spots of best use of mobile in the fashion, as well as the hospitality and travel sectors.
Winning over the hearts of a diverse panel of judges across three different competitions, BORN swept up a total of 23 awards for different categories, proving itself to be a force to be reckoned with across all sectors in the industry. In a exclusive interview with MARKETING-INTERACTIVE, Aditya Basu, head, strategy and corporate marketing, APAC shares the changing faces of the marketing industry that the agency has seen, and how it has surmounted challenges to adapt to help brands to stay ahead of the curve. Basu leads the strategy consulting and corporate marketing functions for APAC & MENA regions.
What are some of the expectations your consumers now have for your agency?
Basu: Across the globe, in all aspects of consumer engagement with a brand, consumers increasingly expect brands to deliver a personal and meaningful digital experience. As we talk to our clients and partners, we see that consumer behavior is changing at an exponential pace and every business must adapt or perish.
In our nine-year journey, being at the intersection of art (creative design) and science (technology), we have occupied a unique position of creating connected experiences that is all about activating brands across channels, conceptualising the digital assets, telling the brand story, and selling their products or services. Having worked with over 500 brands across 40-end markets and successfully implementing best-in class customer experiences for brands, brands now see us as their change agent. They want us to be their growth partner in the digital space to conceptualise, build and run their end-to-end digital expertise.
We will continue to advise and guide brands in their business and digital strategies to enable them on multi-channel sales and engagement through behavioural data. This will be done by connecting the front and back-office operations to produce thoughtful experiences. The success of a brand, in the end, depends on how satisfied its customers are, and how willing they are to come back to do business with the brand. Customers have many choices today; a slip in customer experience (CX) or undesirable customer feedback costs not just one customer, but many. And we think with the right digital transformation strategy in place, there’s no ceiling to what businesses can achieve. We advocate and enable our clients to deliver exceptional experience with precision in the customer experience management battleground.
How has your marketing/your clients marketing plans shifted this year?
Basu: I see a welcomed rise in optimism among marketers after a slumber in 2019-20, driven by purpose-led marketing, where customers will prioritise trust over low prices. The marketing function across APAC is gung-ho about growth strategies, where spending on existing markets, clientele and offerings continue to dominate, with a special emphasis on organic growth. The marketing budgets as a percent of firm budget will be between 9% to 11%, with growth in digital marketing over traditional. Spending on customer experience initiatives has also seen an approximately 70% year-on-year increase in last three years.
Delivering exceptional experiences with ease has expedited the digital commerce market globally, pushing the enterprises to rethink their strategy of capturing new marketplace opportunities and the digital customer segments. It has become critical for businesses to demonstrate a differentiated level of customer service and make themselves more relevant and connected to their customers, to keep exploring new business avenues.
A permanent shift in consumer shopping behaviour and the need to reinvent and rebuild business models to align with customer expectations were two key drivers. We as a digital leader with a niche focus on “experience management and enterprise commerce” were being the change agent for our brands. We are helping brands transact on showrooms that are entirely digital: websites. For instance, one of the four marketplaces we have built grew from a standing start to become SEA’s third-biggest digital marketplace.
To stay ahead of the curve, brands are investing and focusing more on social media engagement and analytics, content management, performance marketing, marketing cloud, smart targeting and personalisation. In a recent survey, over 50% of businesses said that the biggest challenge with customer journey management was actually the volume and variety of content needed. Therefore, brands are looking to use automation for marketing optimisation, product recommendation, dynamic pricing, and retaining customers.Personalising the on-site journey and applying artificial intelligence and machine learning to improve customer experiences is slowly becoming a game-changer for brands.
What are some of the trends you see carrying on post-pandemic, and how are you readying your workforce to be ready with these trends?
Basu: In our opinion, not much has changed, but the pandemic for sure has accelerated renewed focus on digital. From our experience, we have seen our brands go up significantly during this pandemic and most of them are looking to have a share of 20% to 25% revenue through digital channels. COVID-19 accelerated many trends, including brands looking for more channels of sales through marketplaces or direct-to-consumer (D2C) channels. The pandemic has also accelerated a shift to D2C brands. In fact, 52% of D2C brands have seen surges in demand.
The pace of innovation, coupled with increased capabilities, have enabled brands to reach out to existing and prospective customers in an effective and engaging way. Within CX - brands have started focusing on aspects such as fulfilment, supply chain, last mile delivery and returns. We are also noticing a permanent shift in online shopping behaviour -
- 36% of consumers shop online weekly since the rise of COVID-19, up from 28% pre-pandemic
- 64% of shoppers surveyed want mobile and contactless pickup options, with 79% saying contactless store pickup is very important.
- 90% of consumers prefer home delivery over a store visit, 80% are likely to use digital communications with store associates, and only 28% plan to increase in-store shopping between August 2020 and February 2021.
Also, the pandemic has, in a way, forced us to adapt to new ways of working. We feel the phrase “social distance” is an oxymoron. At BORN, we are staying socially close but physically distanced. As we advocate brands on a digital first approach, we are embracing changes across the pivots of people, process and technology to build an organisation of future.
With frequent virtual meetings, it is now imperative to nurture a culture of effective communication, trust and quality over quantity.
What do you think makes for great marketing these days?
Basu: The truth is what got you to this point in the business, is likely not going to get you to the next level. Growing a business was never easy and in an era we live in, it’s getting complex and competitive. From believing in a viable idea to finding a profitable target segment, to market value to sell your prospective customers, building a right marketing strategy to fuel growth and stay profitable is imperative.
While speaking about marketing or management, I always quote the OG of management, Peter Drucker when he said: “An organisation has only two basic functions: marketing and innovation”. While we have evolved as an society, the basics of efficient and effective marketing are still the same. This means knowing your customer so well, that the product fits and sells for itself.
"Simple yet effective" should be the holy anthem for any great marketing. Brands need to be able to connect to the right people at the right time while staying authentic and true to their vision and purpose. Human has become one of the paramount channels and key metrics to gauge any successful marketing campaign. Our Stella framework focuses on brand, behavioral, and book of record experience - the three essential pillars to understand your customer, define a brand and augment it across channels of sales and engagement.
We follow a 360 customer experience flywheel for our brands that’s based on the four key pivots of attract, interact, transact and react.
How are you planning for 2021?
Basu: 2020 was a good year for us despite the pandemic. What we saw during this time is that brands are now adopting a CX-centric approach to please their digital audience more than ever. Segments that were lagging behind in the digital race are all up to rethink, reinvent, and remodel their business goals and strategies. For 2021 and beyond, BORN will continue to drive digital transformations for brands on the pivots of end-to-end experience management and enterprise commerce, to implement spectacular brand, behaviour and book of record experience through the orchestration of our Stella Framework, partner ecosystem and Industry expertise. We are also planning to expand organically coupled with strategic acquisitions and expanded suite of services. We believe that brands look at connected experiences in a connected world and our capabilities will primarily focus across:
- CX (Customer Experience),
- Sx (Service Experience),
- Px (Physical Experience),
- Ox (Operational Experience)
- Dx (Data Experience).
Customer Experience (CX) defines a consumer’s experience of the brand, while Service Experience (Sx) helps the brand live up to the promise of CX. Physical Experience (Px) recognizes the importance of brick-and-mortar stores, reimagining them as experience centres - much more than mere transaction points. Since strategy means very little if not coupled with solid execution, all of this is governed by Operational Experience (Ox). Underpinning these drivers is the foundation of data, labelled Data Experience(Dx).
About BORN Group:
BORN Group is an award-winning global agency that focuses on Enterprise Commerce and Experience Design. It is a Tech Mahindra company.
With over 500 digital transformations under its belt in over 40 end markets covering the B2B and B2C segments, it is one of the largest independent agencies in the customer and brand experience space with offices and operations in more than eight countries. The company combines 10 specialisms to produce high-performing digital assets – creative design, content production, commerce enablement, cloud deployment, integration, consulting, conversion rate optimisation, digital marketing, analytics, and multi-channel cohesion. Learn more at https://www.borngroup.com/