Campaign India Team
May 09, 2013

Lenovo's Ajay Kaul on emerging trends in global marketing: FAME 2013

‘Power of the collective is changing the marketing landscape - and the role of the CMO’

Ajay Kaul addresses FAME delegates
Ajay Kaul addresses FAME delegates

Ajay Kaul, Lenovo's executive director of global brand communications and marketing analytics, was one of the first presenters at the 2013 Festival of Asian Marketing Effectiveness, taking place at the Pudong Shangri-La in Shanghai.

The power of the collective, has played a role in campaigns big and small, from the re-election of Barack Obama to a local examples such as Indian snack brand Hippo, which made social media part of its distribution strategy. The brand convinced customers to Tweet whenever they find a store that has run out of the snack. Another example is popular navigation app Waze, which is completely dependent on its 36 million users for its data.

The ability to influence events around them has changed consumers from dog-like “passive and responsive” behaviour to more feline “active and finicky” traits. “They do what they do, come when they want to come,” said Kaul.

View all Festival of Asian Marketing Effectiveness coverage >>

Building on this change, the trends Kaul believes will drive marketing in 2013 are:

1. Go big by going personal

“Even though Lenovo has the aspiration to grow big faster, we've learnt that growth has to be based on a focus on communities,” Kaul said. An example of a global brand using personalisation to drive global impact, he said, is the well-known 'Share a Coke' campaign by Coca-Cola Australia, where personal names replaced the company's well-known logo.

2. Design is marketing

Design is no longer relegated to the back-end; it has become the main story, a driver in making a product and its brand relevant to people. “People now ask, why is that designed for me? And they're interested in more than its good looks,” Kaul said. Consumers are looking for more than just a product now, they're looking for the story and the experience, he added.

3. Engagement fund as a critical line item of marketing

Marketers have to start setting aside firm budgets for building engagement and measuring campaigns in terms of return on engagement, as well as return on investment. “That is, measure effectiveness not only through sales but the strength of relationships,” Kaul said.

A study by Syncapse demonstrated that the average Facebook fan value in the consumer brand's category increased 28 per cent to US$174 in 2013 versus 2010.

“Marketers need to understand how much a fan is worth in their industries,” he said.

4. Content driven by intelligence

It's not just about content marketing anymore, it's about intellgent content marketing. Oreo's Daily Twist Campaign, which is part of the cookie brand's year-long 100th birthday celebration, has been an online crowd pleaser with an average of 10,000 likes per post, Kaul said. The campaign took daily news events and represented them across social media with an 'Oreo Twist'.

There is also great value in “demonstrate versus tell” content, he continued. Bharat Matrimony, a marriage broker in India took something as traditional as arranged marriages and updated it with a virtual bride-simulation game. Grooms could select 'character traits' of potential brides and simulate being married to those brides in real-time for a week.

5. Value equation extends way beyond the product

As pointed above ('Design is marketing'), consumers now expect far more value out of a purchase. “What was my shopping experience? Customer service? Exclusivity?” queried Kaul. “Value creation has exploded.”

An example of a brand 'getting' this concept, he said, is Volkswagen China. The brand competed with higher-end brands such as BMW and Mercedes by launching the Blue Mobility app, which tracked and analysed driving behaviour, providing tips and advice on curtailing excessive fuel usage. The app has been downloaded more than 1.1 million times and driven for over 18 million kilometres since its launch.

6. New Glocal model

'Glocal' not a new concept, but it's refreshed when used to target Millenials, Kaul said. “A teenage girl in Mumbai has more in common with a girl in Moscow than she does with her grandmother, or even mother,” he said.

This enables marketers to craft campaigns where the main idea appeals to a unified cohort of people worldwide that can be localised—such as by working with local celebrities.

This makes the marketer's job easier, but also makes the calibre of local marketing teams more important. "Today you can't fence off what's happening in a local market.” he said.

“What does this mean for us?" Kaul asked. "In the old world the CMO's function was to get a strong centralised team. But in today's world your marketing talent across the globe has got to be strong and got to know what they're doing. You can't risk the last mile anymore. A mistake in a small city can go viral and be detrimental to your brand.”

The CMO's job has become so complicated and complex that it now extends to production, data officer, a technologist and a HR officer, he said. “In a few years, the CMO's tech budget will exceed the CIO's.”

The article first appeared on Campaign Asia