What Does "Success in Branding" Mean?
Many marketers in South East Asia confuse marketing with sales. To start with, the primany function of marketing is to understand the consumer. This understanding then is translated into activities that are aimed at raising brand awareness and recall, building a brand image, or increasing purchase trial and brand loyalty. Branding is then successful if it helps to achieve any or all of these objectives in an ethical, environmentally and socially sustainable way. Unfortunately, growth in South East Asia has come at a price: Some marketers have compromised product quality, made wrong claims, applied other unethical practices or used environmentally questionnable packaging and inks. Long-term success is only possible if marketing and ethics go hand in hand.
Rule 1: Understand the Needs and Wants
The rules that apply in Asia are the same as elsewhere. However, despite the rules being common sense, many marketers violate them for lack of will or budget. Most importantly, a marketer needs to understand consumers’ needs and wants. The same applies to the requirements of dealers, middlemen, wholesalers and retailers.
Rule 2: Use Those Media the Consumer is Familiar with
A media mix in a Western country might place the internet first, TV second, print and radio last. This ranking might look different in South East Asia. Many consumers are not familiar yet with the internet. However, they have long experience with mobile phones. Most Asians love technical gadgets. TV prime time might last from 5 to 9 pm. It would be wrong to assume Asian consumers will eventually follow Western media consumption patterns.
Rule 3: Understand and Address Cultural Differences
Despite increased trade, Asian markets still show vast differences in culture and consumption. Most consumers want to be uplifted by advertising, yet want it to be honest and meaningful. Humour that works in one country might not work in another. Sarcasm, provocation and comparative advertising are not much appreciated because they make competitive brands seem loosing face.
Some markets forbid to show much skin in people shots. The advertising language should be "clean", based on facts. Several countries require approval of advertising content, a procedure that costs time but significantly lowers the risk of court battles among competitors.
Rule 4: Be Committed to Quality in Product and Marketing
This is another marketing mantra. Though obvious, it is violated often. Some marketers believe by supplying a product that is compromised in quality, it is easier for them to match price and profit targets. Consumers in South East Asia have grown quickly in their demands and expectations. They increasingly expect superior quality and transparent marketing tactics. Unethical marketing backfires same as it does in developed markets. The quality of branding and design in South East Asia is way behind of where it should be. Poor production quality in photography and film, mislabled products and lack of creativity in packaging design are common. Successful ideas and designs seldom originate in this part of the world. It is an opportunity for anyone who comes in to educate consumers, lift the socially "imposed" burden on creativity and demonstrate the true value of superior products and marketing.
Rule 5: Think and Invest Long-Term
South East Asian firms look at the short-term cost first, rather than working towards the long-term benefits. Marketing is seen as a cost factor. The vendor with the lowest cost often has an advantage. Instead, marketers should take a long-term perspective and consistently invest in product quality and marketing.
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