What are Malaysian marketers focusing on in 2019?

As the year comes to a close, marketers are once again posed with a nagging question - what's next for the marketing industry?

According to Forrester’s 2019 predictions report, more than 50% of CMOs will move more budget and attention to remaking or revitalising the brand, making it their top priority in 2019. Meanwhile, marketers must also keep in mind that consumers are now increasingly wanting brands to stand up for social issues. Some brands such as Nike have already started driving these conversations in 2018, and a Forrester’s report states that 75% of B2C CMOs will be tempted to jump into the social fray, taking sides to score points with consumers.

We speak to Malaysian marketers on what their focus will be for the next year.

Schrene Goh, head of marketing, Malaysia Airlines

The key is continuous innovation and constantly reinventing ourselves. That's how we stay relevant and cater to our customers' ever-evolving needs and expectations.
It's also essential to provide a seamless experience from the research phase right to the after service customer care.

We need to engage our customers with personalised content that is meaningful and inspiring. This should be done on the right platform, at the right time, without intruding their personal space. All these efforts are made possible through analytic tools and targeting capabilities on digital platforms, as well as AI systems that help us understand our customers better.

Having said that, don’t overthink things and succumb to paralysis by analysis. Speed to market is important, so keep experimenting, but learn fast and move on quickly!

Linda Hassan, head of marketing, Domino's Malaysia

Technology is one of our biggest focus for 2019. You cannot run away from technology, it is the fundamental of what we do, eg. being able to deliver pizzas to our consumers lesser than 30 minutes or having more efficient technology to prepare the pizzas faster. Besides focusing on the technology projects in 2019, we will also ensure our marketing strategy always links back to our brand promise "It's All About You".
With so many disruptive forces in the industry, it is easy to lose track of fundamental of the business and brand promise.

So I believe we need to be grounded in terms of what we do. We will also continue to venture into more markets and open more stores. We've just ventured into East Malaysia, which was a very successful launch for us, and we set a global record for our stores in Sabah. We are really thankful to have our East Malaysia customers.

Eugene Lee, marketing director, McDonald’s Malaysia

2018 has been an excellent year for the company and for me personally. McDonald’s Malaysia is on its fourth year of double-digit growth, and we’ve effectively doubled the business over the past four years. On a personal front, I am humbled to be recognised by the industry.  It’s an exciting time in marketing, and now more than ever, is when we need to step up creatively to keep our strong business momentum going. McDonald’s Global CEO Steve Easterbrook has just announced that “Creativity is now Business Critical”. Advertisers are not just competing with other advertisers anymore. With the barriers the internet has brought down, we’re competing with all content ever created! Would a customer rather watch a McDonald’s ad, or a Taylor Swift music video instead?

This has made the marketing role even more complex than ever, and I find that exciting and exhilarating. Not only do we need to outdo our competitors, but the content we create needs to be so appealing that customers would choose to watch us over the onslaught of videos with cute cats or Justin Bieber walking down the street.
For 2019, I want to push the limits of creativity.

We aim to keep producing work that I’m personally proud of - keeping customers entertained as we battle for the one commodity that matters in this digital age: attention.

Abdul Sani Abdul Murad, group CMO, RHB Group

The demands for customer experiences that are personalised, relevant, and consistent when interacting with brands across multi channels is displacing the conventional 4Ps (Product, Price, Place, Promotion) marketing mix. I see companies accepting 4Es as the new approach to building successful customer value proposition that embodies engagement, experience, exclusivity and emotion. Let’s face the truth.
People don’t buy products anymore. They buy experiences and emotions instead.

In addition, the rising consumer demands have made companies become more obsessed with customers, driving them to use data and insights to build better empathy and relationships with their customers. It is expected that companies will be inspired to invest in online and offline customer data integration, even to the extent of augmenting it with external third party data as their chief priority, so that they have a more comprehensive view of their customers.

I hope that in the midst of this obsession, marketing professionals will continue to remember that strategy triumphs tactics, brand trumps channel and insights trump data, because 2019 will continue to be a year of business disruption triggered by many more tech innovations. What is crucial is to stay focused on the marketing basic 101 in order to distil from this overwhelming noise.

Jean Ler, CMO, Pizza Hut

Brand building in terms of living up to the brand purpose and brand essence is the fundamental in marketing and brand management, as it builds differentiating relevance to consumers. Hence, it will continue to be the key part of my focus for Pizza Hut's marketing activities. On top of that, customer data management will be a key focus and shift to enable the marketing team to better understand customers and retain them. This will require some fundamental mindset and operational change in marketing team. Combining the above two key strategic focus with the right executions in balancing traditional and digital media would further strengthen brand relevance to consumers.

Kenny Wong, CMO, UEM Sunrise

2019 will again prove to be a challenging year for the property development sector. Competition is intense and supply outstrips demand overall. To stand out among the clutter, focus on reinforcing brand promise and strengthening brand equity will be necessary. We also need to be more informed in the decision making process, understanding the target audience better through data analytics and streamlining our media spend to gain better cost effectiveness. I also see collaborations with like-minded partners as a key requirement as we try to stretch the dollar and extend our audience base. What will be interesting also is to see how technology can perhaps provide more convenience and ease in the process of home ownership.
Above all, we would like to see the implementation of Budget 2019 result in helping more Malaysians own a home.

Zalman Zainal, chief marketing and communication officer, Hong Leong Bank

We remain focused on reinforcing Hong Leong Bank’s brand ethos of being digital-at-the-core as the strategic brand narrative. This is alongside increasing brand affinity amongst customers by delivering products and services that they want - simple in usage, superior in value and seamless in experience. We are also looking at expanding our CSR and Sustainability initiatives as part of strengthening our brand values which enhance brand advocacy amongst customers. Last but not least,  we hope to achieve better effectiveness in spend by focusing more on data and analytics to improve customer targeting.

Heather Goh, CMO, AirAsia BIG Loyalty

In the fast-paced age of digital disruption, customer experience is a focal point and instant gratification has become the norm. Customers expect personalised experiences in any given moment. Brands have to make a shift in realising more live and accurate data to understand customers’ expectations better and faster through new technology such as AI. In particular, machine learning to process vast amounts of data to achieve accurate personalisation in making the best decision to serve the most relevant offers, ads and products to each customer. It's about driving active engagement on a next-generation personalisation platform bringing in deep, contextual, real-time content and not so much about plastering ads.

Jasmine Lee, CMO, U Mobile

In 2019, we will continue building affinity for the U Mobile brand through our main pillars of music (Unlimited Grooves) and food (Unlimited Flavours). In 2018, we were able to bring the likes of pop sensation Charlie Puth and various food experiences such as Malacca’s first Unlimited Flavours Festival to our customers. Next year, we hope to up the game by extending the reach of our brand engagements far beyond the Klang Valley. Next year, we hope to bring even more exciting plans and digital services to our existing and new customers. 2019 marks a major milestone for us as we will be extending our very own #BARULAHBEST 4G LTE network to all of Malaysia, striving to give more customers a superior experience. More importantly, with a robust network, it means we will be able to elevate our innovations to bring customers even more digital experiences that are industry-defining.

Iris Chang, country marketing head, Grab Malaysia

2018 has been an exciting year where we saw Grab Malaysia pivoting beyond providing transport to serving the daily needs of customers, from food and parcel delivery to mobile payments. As we grow ever more into our position as the everyday app of choice, 2019 will see us continuing our focus in providing our customers with a richer, more engaging and rewarding experience on our platform. We aim to do this by improving the service and safety features in our transport service, championing even more local favourites on GrabFood and provide more use cases for customers to transact via GrabPay. We’re also focused on cultivating the cashless culture in Malaysia. With our vision of enabling 100 million ‘micro-entrepreneur partners’ across the region by 2020, our efforts will go into educating especially merchants on how new technology advancements can assist small businesses to expand.
In short, we want to meet and improve the lives of our consumers’, driver-partners and merchant-partners’ in ways they never realised it themselves.



(Read also: Malaysian agency leads share their hopes for 2019)

(Photo courtesy: 123RF)