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SG and MY marketers share learning lessons from 2019

SG and MY marketers share learning lessons from 2019

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It will soon be the end of another decade and the past 10 years has certainly seen the emergence of interesting trends and topics such as eCommerce, AI, machine learning, sustainability and the need for stricter data privacy. In October, Forrester even predicted that brands will be officially freed from the exclusivity of marketing. It explained that eliminating the CMO position sets the brand free from the confines of marketing, reuniting it with the business.

Looking back, the marketing industry is definitely different from when it was in 2010 and as the year comes to an end, Marketing speaks to marketers to find out what is their biggest boo-boo in 2019 and the trends they have their eyes on for the upcoming year.

Kelvin Tan, head of customer and marketing (retail business), FairPrice Group


As the biggest retailer in Singapore, one trend that excites me the most will have to be around driving innovation in service of the customers. So what’s the top of mind for me? How can we build an emotional bond with consumers – and using analytics and AI to do it? How can I make sure that the next wave of customers who show up at FairPrice, it is something that they wanted, whether it is through one-to-one personalisation vis-a-vis digital transformation or community-based assortment localisation through a customer-first focus?

I guess the biggest area of improvement for 2019 would be doing more to recognise team members for their contributions adequately.

The fast-paced nature of retail marketing means often before we could recognise the team, we are already pushing forward with the next upcoming campaign. What really matters in the workplace is helping team members feel appreciated for the contribution they have invested. Praise and recognition are essential to an outstanding workplace culture.

Eunice Yap, CMO, The Esplanade Co

The year 2020 is going to be one of changes, changes and more changes. I am excited to see how we can leverage on technology, be adaptable to the changes we must make, and continue to differentiate and innovate to be relevant to oneself, the organisation and society – complacency is not in the vocabulary!

There were no boo-boos in 2019 or else I would have been out of a job already! That said, 2019 has been a period of experimentation and exploration as we go through a transformation journey – we learn, we try, we succeed and celebrate the small steps of innovations along the way. If we don’t, succeed, we ask why, adapt, and try again. In a culture immersed in creativity and innovation, this has definitely allowed us to move ahead of the curve.

Instead of boo-boos, the one great learning lesson for me was the courage and discipline required when faced with distractions and challenges.

Be very clear with the outcome you are seeking, and let that guide you in the processes and decisions you have to make. More importantly, be responsible, be accountable and take charge!

Rafizah Amran, deputy chief communication and marketing officer

For Prasarana, it would be our focus on tech-centricity. Tech goodies such as in-train wifi and a real-time journey planner would greatly enhance the attractiveness of taking public transport. Globally, I am excited that consumers are going back to basics and ask for a personal interaction.

Personal touch is becoming a rare commodity and we believe for Prasarana to truly belong to the people, guests must be given access not just to technology, but also to the real people behind the screens.

My biggest faux pas for 2019 was calling a gentleman "Miss Chung" for about three months before being told that he was a man!

We have only corresponded through email or WhatsApp and he did not use a profile photo that showed his face. One day, I was talking to a mutual acquaintance and she corrected me. Oh the horror! I texted Mr Chung immediately to apologise and to his credit, he was cool about it and found it amusing instead. This incident reminds me that when in doubt, check and double check!

Hew Lee Yee, CMO, Photobook Worldwide

Social commerce is something I am very excited about. Being able to tap into the micro moments with a much more direct purchase journey on social media, is going to be very powerful to capture a much larger user base. Social shopping is not new to micro SMEs nowadays where they enlist and sell their products online using cash on delivery or bank transfer. However, once Instagram Shopping is made available to all markets, there is going to be a new wave of digital mall alongside with marketplace. Besides, having eWallet as an increasing popular online check-out payment option, the entire online shopping will be a lot of inclusive which covers the un-banked population.

What I wish I could have done better in 2019 was to have managed the balance between the work and the rest to recharge. Missing the regular exercise regimes and good rest caused lots of unnecessary anxiety that compromised the overall mental focus.

Heather Goh, head of digital, HSBC Malaysia

Customer experience still remains the core for our digital strategy in 2020. We aim to build a connected experience - cross channels with consistent experience - for our customers. As data and highly personalised experiences are still key to consumers, there will be more creative use of data with increased speed and innovation in 2020.

Data usage needs to be faster with even more accurate insights to drive meaningful connections with customers.

Additionally, AI capabilities will remain as important and will continue to get more robust in increasing productivity within HSBC and continue to heighten engagement with our customers. I also expect co-creation in building value for consumers to accelerate.

In 2019, we were continuously enhancing our digital foundations with the revamp of HSBC internet banking and mobile app banking, to ensure simple, faster and an even more seamless way of banking. As such, I wouldn't call this a booboo or challenge but rather an opportunity to serve and engage our customers better in the digital space. This also helps us pave the way for more exciting digital-led propositions to build meaningful, relevant connections with our customers.

Diana Boo, CMO, Lazada Malaysia

Lazada is committed to delighting our customers through New Retail and new experiences, while bringing more value to our brands and sellers as the trusted eCommerce partner. This 12.12, we supported our New Retail innovations by launching the Lazada Wallet going offline initiative, providing a glimpse into the possibilities of what retail could be in the future - more integrated towards consumer lifestyle.

By expanding the parameters of the Lazada Wallet to offline stores, we’re highlighting the convergence of bricks and clicks in helping brands grow both aspects of their business, by driving online traffic offline at first and linking offline back to online through our Wallet. We will further augment it as a key focus for Lazada Malaysia in 2020.

The year 2019 also bore witness to several exciting shoppertainment innovations from Lazada Malaysia, and the standout amongst them was the rise of livestreaming in eCommerce that truly impressed me. Even as we focused on the impact that livestreaming had with engagement, we were surprised by how well received the new experiences, such as our “See Now, Buy Now”, were by Malaysian consumers. After the first Lazada Style fashion show in April featuring Raya fashion, we did it again at the KL Fashion Week in August and saw the great potential it had in achieving commercial success, which is encouraging as it is something we did not expect at the beginning.

We immediately decided to invest more resources, and during 11.11, we ran our GUESS IT King! marathon, a four-hour livestream entertainment show, the Malaysia market became the most engaging market across the Southeast Asia countries.

It was also during the course of this that we observed how it was not just celebrity that attracted viewership and it’s always about the great deals that turn viewers into buyers.

Got anything else to add? Reach out to and

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