Why brands struggle to digitise

Believe it or not some brands do not shy away from avoiding digital. It may sound counter intuitive, largely because it is.

And while many brands, eager to tap into the Millennial craze, are turning their focus into digitising their businesses, scrambling to hire the next digital “starter-pack” expertise, there still exists brands that remain unapologetically traditional in their marketing strategy.

One of the oft-cited responses to this reluctance is that these brands’ target audience falls into the older demographic, hence, eliminating the need to digitally invest or to plunge themselves into a space that may not reap any returns.

“It’s not wholly accurate to assume the older generation are not already interested nor engaging with digital brands and content. 60 is the new 40, as the saying goes," Graeme Stephenson, design director of Bonsey Design, said.

I know people whose grandmothers are hooked on Bejewelled and regularly tweet.

Unsurprisingly then, such refractory behaviour to not digitise could potentially hurt a brand’s business in the long run.

Is catering to a specific demographic a legitimate reason for shunning the digital realm or is this approach symptomatic of a more structural lack that needs serious changing? Is there a better way to learn how to maximise your marketing assets and not get left behind? Industry players tell us why it is wise not to lag in this e-era.

Stephenson said, “I think there will come a time when even the word ‘digital’ itself becomes redundant.”

In simple terms ‘digitising’ really means migrating  a brands’or organisations’ assets to yet another platform for them to tell their stories from.

Digitise or get left behind

As these platforms are becoming more accessible and omnipresent, like TV and radio did before them, it is wise to engage and communicate via these mediums. “Reluctance to utilise these platforms would be the equivalent of cutting off your nose to spite your face. It doesn’t make sense in the long run,” Stephenson added.

Similarly, Gale Choong, head of marketing at Unilever Singapore, warned that brands which do not move with the channels will lose their audience and consumers over time. “No doubt we need to evolve with the trends. Brands needs to ask themselves the kinds of messages they wish to convey to their target audience,” Choong explained.

Marketers are mostly reluctant to make the digital leap due to a latching on to the familiarity of more traditional mediums. Because they may not be fully aware of the various benefits and opportunities that digital can bring, they are less likely to transition their marketing asset into a space that is perceived as  riskier than what has been tried and tested.

“Some marketers are also not savvy enough. There needs to be mindset change in what’s in the media mix. Not having  full scope of the media offering can be detrimental to a business,” Choong said.

In addition, the common struggles in digitising involve establishing a long-term strategy for a brand’s content. In addition to his, some brands may not have the ability to create and respond  to the typically non-linear communication with their audience. “Companies flinch at the internal prospect of scoping for the proactive role and continual upkeep needed to build an engaging and dynamic rapport with their audience,” Stephenson said.

In  order to ease into digital transition, he recommended that brands invest in a long-term approach to digital: "It’s a marathon not a sprint. Think about broader content outside of your own.” Companies who are planning a head start into digital should direct their focus on hiring a digital content marketing strategist, bearing the company’s core purpose in mind when it comes to strategising their digital capabilities.

“They need to asses your existing online model (of it exists at all) and then identify the specific gaps for long-term opportunities,” Stephenson added.