Marketing in Malaysia is becoming more complicated than ever, as competition heats up and technological advancements ripple through the country. However to really be successful with Malaysian consumers, marketers need to immerse themselves in the unique culture of Malaysia, infused with diversity where each race has its own unique character.
According to Lee Lim Meng (pictured), marketing director, consumer products division (CPD), Malaysia has a healthy, young, middle age population and a large group of middle income with decent purchasing power. As such, a good marketer needs to learn to “find synergy amongst the diversity”. To truly understand the people of the nation, marketers need to get out of the office and immerse themselves and their teams in the various cultures, behaviors to find the right insight that could trigger an action or emotion, she explained.
“We need to start thinking beyond demographic, and connect through psychographic. An essential trait of a good marketer is not seeing oneself as just marketing a product, but rather owing a business,” she said.
“It is essential to be entrepreneurial in this part of the world and in today’s consumer’s expectation, marketer today should also be transparent and authentic. I mean of course, the fundamental of 4Ps should be intact,” Lee added.
In her current role as CPD marketing director, Lee oversees the mass consumer products. At the same time she is also holding a dual role as the L’Oreal group media director, overseeing the media planning and buying across divisions. She leads a team of 13 in her current role.
Moving forward, she said the company will have fewer campaigns, but will be bigger and better in all its executions. She added that the company will also “prioritise on building pillars” where each brand will have a key role to play to driving bigger bets.
In a previous interview with A+M, Lee also said that the the future of marketing especially in Malaysia may seem like only price and promotions, where marketers are pressured to drive short-term gain in reaction to market data provided month on month.
“As an unfortunate outcome, we focus on reacting to market competitors rather than real consumers. Winning today and tomorrow should start with an obsession with our consumers,” she said. Lee added that going forward, research and data should be used to understand more on consumers’ needs and for us to drive their wants.
“Of course, understanding the marketplace is critical. Knowing who your competitors are and what they do, can guide you on execution. It is a fundamental. However, in order to differentiate, we need to do more for the consumers,” she said.
While her team was set on fixing fundamentals in 2017, this year she said, the plan is to accelerate growth across key categories, upscale talents and invest time to bring alive the new “simplicity” culture to the organisation. She hopes this will help lure in more talents into the company.
When asked what her main challenges are, Lee said,” A lot of our challenges today within the group are more internal, in which means it is absolutely fixable. It is about stepping up our way of working in order to meet the demand and the speed of the consumers. Simplifying processes, having more focus on plans, driving obsession on consumers are some of the efforts.”