Adapting the new normal

Tune Rohit Nambiar

PETALING JAYA: Amid the economic volatility expected over next few months, marketers have drawn strategies that will not only spur their businesses but also step up consumer engagement.

At the same time, they are also looking to up their advertising spend across various platforms.

Nestle (M) Bhd executive director of marketing, communications and innovation Chow Phee Chat said the past year has brought great upheaval to all, and while the company is resilient, it is certainly not immune. Looking ahead, he expects some form of economic volatility in the beginning part of the year to persist.

“In spite of the challenges, we remain focused on our long-term business strategy to strengthen our core and capture future growth opportunities. Our strategy focuses on driving sustainable and profitable growth, nurturing love and trust in our brands, and ensuring we keep our fundamentals strong to ‘future-proof’ the business.

“More importantly, we continue leading the industry’s way to shape a greener and more sustainable future for all.

“We have not stopped investing in our brands and will continue to do so to engage our consumers on various platforms year on year. We believe in investing efficiently in the right mediums, to deliver the right messages, through the right touchpoints, ” Chow told StarBiz.

In light of the new normal, however, he said there is a need for stronger collaboration and partnerships within the industry to help one another to deal with uncertainty, rising cost and the shift in consumer behaviour and expectations.

Baba Products (M) Sdn Bhd head of communications and consumer marketing Claudian Navin Stanislaus (pic below) said as a brand the company was looking at some new directions and initiatives when the lockdown first hit last year.

He said everything was shelved, and like most, the company had to face bigger issues with regards to shortages, production and distribution limitations that came with the movement controls globally and distancing measures that were put in place internally.

“Our main focus last year therefore was to ensure the rising demands were fulfilled at all cost, ” he added. So, as much as possible, he said, resources were diverted to support this. Navin is also the vice-president of the Malaysian Advertisers Association (MAA).

With things slowly easing now, he said plans are underway to reactivate some of the previous campaigns, and adapting to the uncertainty that this pandemic poses and the possibility of restrictions that it may bring.

“As a food brand, we have undertaken strict protocols of testing internally as part of our efforts to prevent disruptions, which shall also remain a priority for some time to come, and as such, will be a part of the overheads moving forward.

“Certainly, there will be brands bursting off the blocks this year, especially with Ramadan around the corner; in fact it’s the ideal time for upstarts to steal some limelight and for brands to regain lost brand value after a period when everything seemed to be commoditised or was more a matter of availability.

“But there will be a lot of clutter to cut through in the next few months as brands fight to make up for lost time, which will possibly provide some much needed stimulus for the industry. For us at BABA’S, our plans have been forced to become more fluid, but the focus will be towards supporting our customers first, ” Navin added.

Meanwhile, Tune Protect Group CEO Rohit Nambiar (pic below) said as the industry emerges into a new trend of e-economy whereby insurance is made available across various digital platforms such as e-wallet, e-commerce, and mobile apps.

The group has established a digital marketing strategy to reach its intended target audience – the Millennials and Gen-Z who value and appreciate engagements via their mobile phones. “We have gradually shifted our marketing and advertising effort towards digital where we look at employing Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), pay-per-click marketing, email and social media marketing, campaign video production, as well as a convenient and user-friendly website among others.

“Tune Protect will however still integrate our digital marketing strategy with a conventional marketing approach when the needs arise, though this will largely depend on the nature of campaigns, products, propositions, and/or target audience, ” Rohit said.

He said digital advertising and marketing approach would be highly tactical, based on market trends, consumer needs, and products in order to maximise branding reach and return of investment.

As for the outlook of the marketing industry this year, Chow said consumers are placing more importance on service and trust and are expecting companies to contribute more than just providing quality products.

“How we do business is becoming equally, if not more important, than what business we do. This shift places the importance for marketers and brand builders to be even more socially and environmentally aware and take the challenge head on to become brands that are also a force for good.

“The marketing industry would also see an accelerated shift towards digitisation with importance placed on measurement and optimisation of resources, ” he noted.

Chow added that the increase in online engagement amongst the consumers would see the amplification of digital initiatives to enhance first party data. He said this would not only increase the cost for marketers but also competition in the market for strong digital talent and expertise which are already a constraint in the market.

“All these new requirements lead to a concentration of marketing processes to optimise cost and enhance agility. Marketers will be expected to be more innovative to manage content creation efficiently and effectively, ” Chow said.

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