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Beyond big data: Sony Mobile’s tech-focused approach to marketing

A marketer’s job used to be simpler – you considered product, place, promotion and price, and the idea was if you got them right, the consumers would come. But the digital revolution has created a very different world.

Place, for example, is no longer a physical construct as more businesses go online and mobile. Price is arguably less of a determinant for purchase behaviour than the perceived value of the product, and let’s not forget that Facebook reached millions of users without much of a promotion strategy.

Catalysed by the digital revolution, consumers today have become increasingly empowered, sophisticated and highly connected – they increasingly demand content and information that is not only personalised and relevant, but also easily and immediately accessible at their fingertips.

Today, it is less about the product than the experiences it promises to deliver; and you can now engage a consumer anywhere – online, in-store or through mobile – but it needs to be contextualised and relevant.

To successfully engage this new breed of consumer, brands need to be more compelling in their storytelling, and demonstrate a better understanding of their consumers down to the individual level, and all in real-time.

Today, we enjoy levels of engagement with our consumers like never before: we are responding to them on social media in real time, and harnessing insight into user behaviour to be more relevant to them – for example, understanding their motivations and concerns, and highlighting how a particular product caters to that based on features and specifications.

At Sony, content marketing is also a big focus. Our recent “Photo Academy” campaign sees leading photographers around the world deliver tips and tricks to help users get the most out of their smartphone cameras. Users are then encouraged to apply these tips and submit their own photos in a global contest, making this a more participative and engaging campaign overall.

We are closing the gap with consumers, but we can do better. The future of technology will largely be about getting closer to the customer, and technology will help us achieve that.

Big data holds huge potential for marketers, but it doesn’t automatically mean better marketing.

The data itself is less important than the insights it can deliver. Big data can tell us today who our customers are, where they are, what they want and how they want to be contacted. It can also shed light on what influences customer loyalty, and how you can keep customers coming back for more.

At Sony Mobile, we’ve been working at geo-targeting – a virtual way to set the geographic boundaries that will trigger a specific action for users within the area. For example, at the recent Sony Festival event in Singapore, this feature was used to prompt Xperia Lounge – Sony Mobile’s proprietary entertainment and lifestyle application – users who were in the proximity of the venue received notifications that informed them of the event occurring nearby. This is exciting, but there is potential to take this much further.

Data comes in many layers and in many forms, and the ability to aggregate and analyse the data and then make immediate decisions on it is invaluable. This insight, coupled with the pervasiveness of mobile technology, allows for customer communication to be more pinpointed and compelling, and makes it easier for consumers to take immediate action. Brands that do this effectively stand to achieve a different level of intimacy with their customers.

One way in which Sony has utilised big data analytics is by tapping into social influencers. The amount of big data generated through social networks and digital channels gives us fresh sources of customer information that can be used to better capitalise on peer-to-peer relationships.

Through data analytics, we are able to identify topic-based influencers by different product categories and identify specific buyers. Through tailored marketing campaigns, we augmented the natural influence those buyers already had with their network of friends in order to get those friends to buy along with them.

Big data can also be used to make the offline retail experience a lot more engaging. By combining data on the customer’s location with past behaviours, brands have an opportunity to deliver engaging, highly personalised content to the customer in the store itself that transforms the shopping experience.

That said, while the consumer landscape will continue to evolve and, with it, marketing practices, what will remain the same is the need to focus on the consumer and to deliver products that make a difference in their lives.

At Sony Mobile, we take customer feedback very seriously, and use it to understand what experiences we can offer to smartphone users in the areas they are most interested in.

Chang Seng Hock is the marketing director of Southeast Asia and Oceania for Sony Mobile.

This article was from Marketing Magazine’s special edition The Futurist, the January-February 2015 issue.

Other stories from The Futurist:

Getting up close and personal by Mike King of IKEA Singapore
Still a touch ‘Mad’ but not for long by Anna Bory of Audi
The death of traditional and digital marketing, by Rahul Asthana of Kimberly-Clark
Up, up and away with Millennials, by Rick Harvey Lam of Accor Luxury and Upscale Brands
Welcome to the ‘third age of travel’ by Karun Budhraja of Amadeus Asia
The future(s) of B2B marketing by Andrea Lin of Citi
The mobile customer experience will fuel digital transformation in Asia Pacific by Forrester
Communicate… or die by Greg Klayton of Kadence
4 tips to becoming “2015 Marketer of the Year” by Ambrish Jain of Lenovo
What’s a bad personality trait for a marketer? by Abdul Rahim Bawa of MasterCard
How does a mobile led future look like? By Rohit Dadwal of the Mobile Marketing Association
Do you have the skills to be a futuristic marketer? by Marcus Chew of NTUC Income
Marketing will soon be everybody’s job by Alvin Neo of Integrated Healthcare Holdings/Parkway Pantai.
From mad men to math men: How marketers need to evolve by Anthony Shiner of Singtel

Stop selling media, start selling ideas by Geoff Tan of Singapore Press Holdings

For the full issue, click here.

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