In 2022, companies faced rising costs, continued supply chain challenges and lasting COVID-19 repercussions, especially with Asia’s more cautious reopening. Despite these challenges, brands found novel ways to adapt to rising trends: creating new products and experiences to surprise and delight their consumers. They reimagined offline experiences, ventured into the ESG and redefined standards for ESG.
Looking ahead to 2023, we foresee continued pressure for businesses and marketers to perform in the face of sustained uncertainties. However, we also see more opportunities for brands to rethink their offerings, double down on customer centricity and build relevance that lasts – for customers and employees alike.
Below, we share our thoughts on five trends for marketers to keep in mind as we head into 2023.
1. Expanding the scope of the CMO
The role of the CMO and their team will continue to shift as marketing evolves from a predominantly creative function to an increasingly data-driven one. Effective marketing now requires an increased focus on data-driven decision making, using analytics and insights to understand customer needs and preferences to develop targeted campaigns that reach the right audience at the right time.
The proliferation of new technologies have opened up a wide range of opportunities and challenges for marketers. However, to gain the lead, marketers must hone their skillsets and strengthen their analytical wheelhouse as their MarTech stack is growing ever larger and more complex.
With this expanded remit also comes the need for even closer collaboration between marketing and other departments within the organisation. For Matt Che, CMO of Budweiser APAC, a close partnership with the commercial team has been critical to the company’s success in Asia. Che said, “It’s important to align across marketing and sales teams on what long-term success looks like as well as what challenges might arise in the short term. Collaborating with sales allows us to better identify commercial realities such as pricing, competition and potential cannibalisation within our portfolio.”
As brands continue pushing for customer-centricity, marketing can continue to elevate the voice of the customer across all areas of the business to drive uncommon growth.
2. Building purpose-led brands
Across all industries, a commitment to ESG is becoming expected, if not demanded, by stakeholders. Consumers, employees and investors are coming from all angles to hold companies to higher standards, expecting not simply a verbal commitment to ESG but tangible policies and practices that reflect these values. Consumers are increasingly choosing companies that take a stand on issues they care about, with 86% expecting CEOs to speak out on societal issues, according to Edelman.
Internally, employees are seeking employers who align with their values, and investors are putting record-breaking amounts of capital behind companies prioritising ESG. More than ever, marketers must strive to build purpose-led brands that translate aspirational visions into pragmatic strategies that contribute to a more sustainable future.
3. Deepening post-purchase experiences
As marketers are well aware, the customer journey does not end when a purchase is made. To adapt a true customer-centric mindset, brands must not only convince consumers to choose them, but also pay attention to how their customers use their product or service. As customer acquisition costs continue to rise and channel fragmentation intensifies, customer retainment has become an increasingly important growth driver for brands.
Holistic customer experience, particularly when it comes to post-purchase engagement, must not be overlooked. In Southeast Asia, nearly 90% of consumers were more enticed to shop somewhere with a loyalty program. In China, we’ve seen an opportunity gap for marketers to focus more on customer lifetime value to find more sustainable and long-term growth.
Many leading brands have started taking steps. Outdoor apparel company, The North Face, wanted to redefine how to deliver its XPLR Pass loyalty program in Greater China to drive higher engagement with Chinese members. The company saw an opportunity to expand the types of benefits provided, going beyond solely monetary rewards to better reflect the brand DNA and further differentiate from competitors. As part of the Greater China loyalty program revamp, a unique positioning for XPLR Pass and defined key strategic metrics, data strategy and engagement tactics were developed by the brand. This work sets the foundation for the revamped loyalty program to be a key pillar of future growth for the brand in that market.
4. Meeting customer needs through demand landscape mapping
Consumers today have access to more information at their fingertips than ever before, making them increasingly sophisticated and discerning shoppers across all categories. As a result, customer segments are becoming more diverse and complex as well, with more variance in mindsets and behaviours.
For instance, Asian consumers tend not to be pure luxury shoppers, with 82% of Korean respondents and 72% of Chinese respondents stating that they like to mix and match across premium and mass brands. To develop a brand and product portfolio to meet the nuanced needs of their target audience, brands can leverage demand landscape mapping to understand both where to play and how to win.
5. Driving growth from within through cultural transformation
As mentioned previously, workers are increasingly making it a priority to choose an employer that aligns with their values. Organisations know the importance of developing internal branding and communications that are consistent with the external brand, but there’s more work to be done. By taking steps to actively understand and address the needs of their workforce, companies can drive cultural transformation from within. Engaged employees are more likely to be productive, innovative and collaborative. Within the same organisation, highly engaged business units can result in a 23% difference in profitability.
Especially in East Asia, only 17% of employees report feeling engaged at work (compared with 21% globally) highlighting an opportunity for firms to look inward and close the gap. Whether it’s revamping the company’s values, investing in employee learning and development or driving better collaboration, an engaged workforce is the fuel for a brand’s growth engine.
The game of marketing means always looking ahead to anticipate not only customer needs but also macrotrends, market shifts and industry changes. Marketers that are able to think proactively, invest pragmatically and collaborate effectively with their peers will be well-positioned to unlock uncommon growth for their brands in 2023.
This article was written by Virginia Ngai, associate partner at Prophet.
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