Catching up with consumers: Why Asian brands need to pick up the pace

“Agility” is an industry buzz word for good reason. The internet, social media, big data; all of these developments are accelerating change and creating an environment in which brands need to act fast or be left behind.

This change requires a fundamental shift in mind-set. The 30 second TV commercial is no longer the focal point of a marketing campaign, nor is it the most powerful.

Instead of devoting the majority of time and budget to creating and testing a campaign pre-launch, marketers need to think more broadly about how they can deliver a compelling brand idea that is engaging across multiple platforms.

Some marketers have been coaxed out of their comfort zone to try novel ways of understanding and interacting with the digital environment.

China is racing ahead in this field thanks to two key factors: the millions of consumers using all-in-one social media apps such as WeChat, and the prohibitive expense of TV advertising.

For the majority of brands in Asia however, the entry point has simply been commissioning digital listening to monitor their online brand presence. Even this is easier said than done as the situation in Asia is far more complex than that in the US and Europe.

The multitude of languages, confusing web of social media platforms, and differing levels of internet penetration make converting social media data into something sensible and useful a definite challenge.

But listening to the buzz is no longer enough. Real change will only come when marketers use social data to support powerful real-time decision-making. Using advanced data modelling it is now possible to filter out the noise on social media to get to the insights that really matter, and to provide advance warning of any significant changes to their brand equity.

Is a decline in brand equity likely to happen? Or, is the future looking bright? If it is the former, the team can intervene and take action to mitigate risks. If it is the latter, they can stick with the current strategy or seek to amplify the drivers of success. Such intimate market knowledge can create a powerful source of competitive advantage.

The Asian landscape is ideally primed for real-time campaigning. Consumers in the region are active across multiple social media platforms and actually want to interact with brands, unlike many in the US and Europe. Once marketing teams fully understand the potential of the data at their fingertips, they will be able to use predictive social and search data to stay one step ahead of consumers, instead of struggling to keep up.

Nitin Nishandar is regional managing director for brand and communications, TNS