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Munchy’s Lim Imun on agency relationships and becoming a ‘global powerhouse’

With so many options out there, consumers preferences for biscuits and confectionery have changed over the years. Today, consumers are demanding more in terms of flavour, innovation, packaging and pricing. Convenience, also, plays a big role in consumption.

To meet this demand, Lim Imun (pictured), general manager – marketing, Munchy’s told A+M that innovations are crucial to the growth of the Munchy’s brand. In her role, Lim covers the development and management of Munchy’s portfolio of brands for both Malaysia, Singapore and the export markets. She also oversees the marketing for Malaysia and Singapore.

However, despite the recent acquisition by CVC Capital Partners Asia Fund IV, it is still business as usual for Munchy Food Industries and its Malaysian subsidiary Munchworld Marketing. But what it did help in, is giving an added boost to the brand now becoming a “global powerhouse”.

But to reach this aim, Lim says a great relationship with her agency partners is needed. Currently, Munchy’s currently works with agencies such as Universal McCann, Ensemble and Naga Tribal DBB.

Lim, as such, is an ardent believer that the client-agency relationship needs to be more than just a business relationship.

“If managed poorly, it can impact a business and ruin the reputation of the agency. On the other hand, a smooth relationship can be a fulfilling and thriving partnership for both parties involved,” she explained.  She added that one of the potential problems in a client-agency relationship is unclear communications, where both parties are not aligned in terms of common objectives and agency partners do not understand the brand.

As such, Lim said three key qualities are required for an agency partner – having a partnership mentality, caring for the business and brand, and always being prepared to challenge the norm.

“We see our agency partners as our business partners in building the brand, and they are the conduits of the brand. It is important that both parties should be able to trust and be transparent with one another,” she added.

A global playground for all things digital

On the marketing and digitisation front, one area the company is keen on exploring is integrating chatbots into the business. This, it hopes, will help improve the speed of response rates to consumers, and in turn boost customer satisfaction. Lim added that chatbots definitely come in handy in engaging customers in an interesting or creative way.

For example, the brand could run a marketing campaign that asks customers questions or that allows them to play a game using a chatbot, or offer promotions to customers in the shopping mall. However, Lim cited a common pitfall of using chatbots – that is in the device being unable to answer difficult and sophisticated enquiries.

“The technology is still in its infancy, so most bots follow a set of rules programmed by a human via a bot-building platform. Also, customers might feel the absence of human communication as bots usually have a more generic or programmed structured responses,” she added.

While chatbots are all the hype now, Lim said the need to utilise a chatbot is still dependent on the industry that the company is in. Chatbots are important for FMCG companies, for instance, as they will be dealing with customer enquiries on a daily basis. Lim added that brands should also ask three questions before considering chatbot technology:

  • Does my product currently need a bot?
  • Are existing platforms able to support its functionality?
  • Will a bot enhance the brand and customer experience?

Meanwhile, social and digital play an integral role in the company’s marketing strategy, with Munchy’s investing a “large part” of its budget into digital. Lim, however, declined to reveal the exact value of investment. She added that social has opened up an additional avenue of communication between the brand and its consumers and has helped raise awareness about its product innovations, activations and activities.

“The new digital consumers are more informed and frequently ahead of the curve and we need to understand all these behaviours and the things that consumers truly need,” Lim said. She added that Munchy’s analyses the data and feedback given by the consumers and mine it to further understand the types of digital strategy that have the most positive results.

Skills marketers require today

In her career spanning over 20 years, Lim has worked in both local and regional roles in the Southeast Asia market mainly within the FMCG industry. She has also dabbled in beauty in electronics.

She explained that past experiences have been instrumental in grounding her thought processes in terms of building strategy and management of brands and businesses, as well as mapping and spearheading the growth of the brands and its portfolio both domestically and globally.

But Lim recognises that the marketing industry has undergone “tremendous change” over the past five years. “What we deem as good 15 years ago may not be true today,” Lim said. As such, marketers today need to be very nimble and have the ability to test, try and learn from their mistakes in order to move forward at a faster pace.

Creativity and the ability to apply marketing knowledge with high-level thinking, as well as having a good understanding of marketing technology, is now more vital than ever, she explained. She added that effective marketers, at the end of the day, know how to utilise software to complete tasks more effectively so they have more time to focus on the bigger picture and creative decisions.

 

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