Marketing Featured APAC

Rising ESG demand: Measuring the impact of ESG strategies in APAC

ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) efforts and corporate practices have gained momentum in recent years, with businesses and consumers becoming more conscious about the impact of their investments and purchases on the environment and society. A PwC report says that institutional investors plan to increase ESG allocation in the next 2 years whilst Hong Kong and Singapore take the lead in Asia-Pacific – backed by financial regulatory authorities moving towards stronger ESG risk and reporting practices. 

From 1 Jan 2023 to 8 Mar 2023, there have been 638 mentions on ESG topics and a 12% lift in engagements across news sources in APAC compared to the previous period, according to Meltwater’s Explore solution.

Based on Edelman Trust Barometer 2022, societal leadership is now a core function of businesses. 88% of institutional investors subject ESG to the same level of scrutiny as financial and operational considerations. Meanwhile, 81% expect CEOs and Founders to be visible in public policy discourse and work their companies have done that has benefited society.

Strong sentiments amongst institutional investors in rejecting or stopping investment with an asset manager due to shortcomings in corporate ESG efforts or strategies, according to the PwC report, show how critical is sustainability in the decision-making process for stakeholders.

As the ESG journey is unique to each business and requires a tailored approach, meaningful reporting with full transparency is crucial to measuring and communicating the progress of a business’s ESG journey. 

However, effective communication, tracking, and measuring the impact of ESG strategies can seem like uncharted waters to some. Investing in such tools opens up a huge potential in driving relevance in communications strategy towards the public and stakeholders. By doing so, businesses can position themselves positively and authentically in the eyes of their stakeholders.

Multinational financial services company Western Union faced a challenge when it sought to assess its reputation and progress in meeting ESG standards. The company’s Social Listening, Analytics, and Insight department found it challenging to access and interpret the large volume of relevant data being generated daily. A tool that enables companies to track and evaluate their reputation across multiple channels, including broadcast news, digital news, blog forums, review sites, and social media platforms is much needed.

Technology of examining millions of posts each day from social media platforms, blogs, and news sites have enormous potential to help businesses make better-informed decisions based on insights and manage their ESG communications and company’s reputation on a global scale more effectively whilst staying up to date on industry changes or initiatives.

With comprehensive and integrated data, it’s easier to keep abreast of how your brand and industry are stacking up in the ESG space – which in turn enables your team to craft impactful initiatives or content strategies in the future.

Watch Meltwater’s on-demand webinar on “Measuring the Impact of ESG Strategies in APAC” to find out how you can track, measure, and optimise the effectiveness of your ESG communications. Get access to the content here.

This feature is done in collaboration with Meltwater.

The article above is written by Weldon Fung, Area Director for Southeast Asia at Meltwater.

Marketing Featured Global

LinkedIn, top career platform, sees itself joining the lay-off spree

United States Earlier this year, multinational technology corporation Microsoft has announced that it will reduce its overall workforce by 10,000 jobs due to its restructuring plan, which represents less than 5 per cent of its total employee base. With this, it appears that the Microsoft-owned and leading online professional network LinkedIn is currently affected by the said cutoff as it lays off employees from its recruitment department, with an unconfirmed number of staff.

The global job and career portal directly confirmed the news to media website The Information on Monday. 

One of the LinkedIn employees from the recruitment team confirmed their departure from the company, including Nicole Zawacki who worked as lead of diversity, inclusion and belonging sourcing, on a personal note right on the LinkedIn platform.

“It’s with the heaviest heart that I say that I have been affected by the LinkedIn layoff this morning. I absolutely adored my role at LinkedIn as well as the brilliant people I had the privilege of working with, many who were also let go today,” said Zawacki.

In a statement posted on Microsoft’s official blog, Satya Nadella, chairman and chief executive officer of Microsoft, said that the reduction of the parent org is due to their plan to align the cost structure with revenue and customer demands.

Nadella added, “It’s important to note that while we are eliminating roles in some areas, we will continue to hire in key strategic areas. We know this is a challenging time for each person impacted. The senior leadership team and I are committed that as we go through this process, we will do so in the most thoughtful and transparent way possible.”

Earlier this month, another Microsoft-owned company GitHub also reportedly let go of 300 employees to go for a fully remote working set-up. 

As of this writing, LinkedIn is not yet releasing an official statement about the said layoff.

Marketing Featured Global

PayPal, HubSpot latest firms to announce layoffs

Singapore – Global financial technology giant Paypal and customer relationship management (CRM) platform HubSpot are the newest companies to announce layoffs amidst a rising trend of company employee reductions.

In a public letter by PayPal CEO and president Dan Schulman, he said that approximately 2,000 employees will be affected by the layoff announcement. He further added that the move was made amidst drastic changes made to focus resources on core strategic priorities.

“Change can be difficult – particularly when it includes valued colleagues and friends departing. We will face this head-on together, drawing on the unparalleled scale of our global platform, the strategic investments we have made to strengthen our core capabilities, and the trust and loyalty of our customers,” Schulman stated.

He further added that the reductions will take effect in the following weeks, with other organisations within the company having more impact than others, albeit he didn’t specify which of these will be affected.

Meanwhile, a public letter by HubSpot CEO Yamini Rangan said that HubSpot will be laying off 500 employees or around 7% of its workforce. Rangan also added that US employees will be the first affected, followed by other countries, in accordance with local laws.

“We have to invest in our future. In order to do that, we need to reduce investments that are not aligned with our strategy. To help our customers grow better during this time, we need to double down on product innovation. For us to scale better, we need to double down on our own internal efficiencies. Both of these require investments that we cannot make if we don’t make changes now,” she said.

Rangan also added that inflation, volatile foreign exchange, tighter customer budgets, and longer decision-making cycles have been responsible for the company’s slow growth. In turn, they have also slowed hiring, minimised travel, cut discretionary spend, and repurposed teams with excess capacity.

The tech company layoffs continue to roll out across multiple companies, with Amazon, Meta, Oracle, Netflix, Snap, Twitter, as well as regional companies like Carsome, Shopee, and Tencent as some of those affected.

Marketing Featured Southeast Asia

Baskin-Robbins to permanently shut down PH stores

The Philippines – American ice cream brand Baskin-Robbins has announced through a Facebook post that they will permanently close down their stores in the Philippines this coming 31 December.

“To our dear customers, it’s been an incredible journey over the last 8 years, but unfortunately we will be permanently closing our doors on Dec 31, 2022,” the post read.

The post, however, did not indicate a specific reason for the closure. 

To thank their patrons, Baskin-Robbins offered a range of promos available until closure. “As a gesture of our thanks for your valued patronage over the years, we are pleased to offer a range of promos from November 26 – December 31, 2022,” the post stated.

The offers are as follows: getting a free scoop with any junior/value scoop purchase; a Buy 1 Take 1 deal on all pints, quarts and half gallons; and getting a tub of 86 scoops for only ₱3,500.

“Once again, thank you very much for everything. It’s been an honor to be of service to all of you,” Baskin-Robbins concluded.

Baskin-Robbins was officially launched in the Philippines in 2014, with its first local store established at Central Square in Bonifacio Global City. 

The local stores’ closure follows Baskin-Robbins’ global rebrand, which unveiled the brand’s new logo, packaging, and tagline.

Marketing Featured Global

Amazon joins Big Tech’s layoff spree

Seattle, Washington Amazon has begun laying off employees in its devices group, following reports saying that the company plans to lay off 10,000 employees in corporate and technology roles.

According to TechCrunch, the layoffs would represent 3% of its corporate employees, making it the company’s largest layoffs in its history. The company has already announced plans to freeze hiring for corporate roles in its retail business.

The report follows the recent shutting down of some services, products, warehouses, and even its roving delivery robots of the company, after its disappointing third-quarter earnings report in October, which caused shares to fall more than 13%, bringing their year-to-date stock decline to about 41%.

CNBC also obtained some documents stating, ‘voluntary severance’ was also offered to some employees in some divisions as the company seeks ways to reduce its headcount beyond the massive layoffs already underway. This is said to be the ‘first step’ in realigning Amazon’s businesses, implying that more layoffs may occur in the near future.

The company’s unusual and uncertain macroeconomic environment was announced on their website. The company decided to consolidate some teams and programs, resulting in the elimination of some roles.

Dave Limp, senior vice president of devices & services at Amazon said, “It pains me to have to deliver this news as we know we will lose talented Amazonians from the devices and services org as a result. I am incredibly proud of the team we have built and to see even one valued team member leave is never an outcome any of us want.”

Limp added, “We notified impacted employees yesterday, and will continue to work closely with each individual to provide support, including assisting in finding new roles. While I know this news is tough to digest, I do want to emphasise that the devices & services organisation remains an important area of investment for Amazon, and we will continue to invent on behalf of our customers.”

Shares have plummeted and closed down about 2% following the reports of layoffs.

The report comes on the heels of layoffs at other big tech companies. Meta announced the layoff of over 13% of its workforce, or over 11,000 employees, and Twitter laid off roughly half of its workforce.

SME Featured Southeast Asia

TikTok PH launches ‘Negosyo Mo Na Yan’ campaign for budding F&B entrepreneurs

Manila, Philippines – TikTok in the Philippines is moving to support would-be entrepreneurs through the launch of its new campaign, ‘’Negosyo Mo Na Yan’. Negosyo is a Tagalog term for business, and the campaign is aimed at helping Filipinos cope financially in these trying times by empowering them to launch their own businesses.

Through this campaign, TikTok hopes to equip aspiring entrepreneurs with the tools and basic knowledge they need to jumpstart their business ventures. During the pandemic, a lot of beginning and closeted entrepreneurs came out of their shells with online marketplaces seeing an unprecedented surge during the period. With this, content platforms and e-commerce platforms themselves have been launching online initiatives to teach budding business owners to navigate and foray into online selling.

‘Negosyo Mo Na Yan’ will focus solely on food-related businesses, largely because, according to the short video platform, most of the thriving local businesses born during the pandemic are centered around food.

The campaign will kick off with ‘Negosyo Week’ from 27 September to 3 October 2021. During this period, a series of masterclasses will be hosted by different TikTok partners via TikTok Live. Each session will last for 2 hours where viewers will gain insights and information relevant to a food entrepreneur’s journey. Partner speakers include GCash, Puregold, Abenson, Canva, and When In Manila Food as well as Globe.

This will be followed by a #NegosyoRecipe challenge from 4 October to 21 October 2021, where participants can win amazing prizes, including appliances and tools that can help them start their businesses. In order to join, users need to upload their best negosyo recipe videos on TikTok using the hashtag #NegosyoRecipe. TikTok will then select 10 creators from among all the participants who will move on to the next round.

Shortlisted creators will be given the exclusive chance to develop their negosyo ideas, and improve their business models through one-on-one mentoring sessions. The challenge will culminate with a business pitch, where the final 10 creators will present their ideas to a panel of judges composed of respected entrepreneurs and experts from the food industry such as RJ Ledesma of Mercato Group, celebrity chef Marvin Agustin, and Mark del Rosario of Let’s Eat Pare.

After the pitch, the three creators with the most promising business ideas will be awarded as winners. Along with the business-building tools, one grand winner will also be entitled to a six-month mentorship with Marvin Agustin, which includes a spot in his cloud kitchen, The Secret Kitchen.

As the leading short video platform, TikTok has been ramping up its content strategy in order to include conversations relevant to society. Its Singaporean counterpart has recently launched a livestream series dedicated to anchoring the discussion on mental health awareness.

Marketing Featured Southeast Asia

SG businesses’ CX endeavors fall short of customer expectations, new study shows

Singapore – Despite last year’s nature of culminating businesses to turn their pivots digitally, Singaporean businesses have instead created a gap between them and their customer base in terms of customer experience (CX) strategies, new study from software company SAP shows.

In its APAC-centric study, SAP notes that Singaporean businesses fall short of expectations by as much as 28% when it comes to being customer-centric, behind the APAC average of 21%. Furthermore, only half (55%) of consumers in Singapore stated that brands here are able to resolve their issues after three interactions.

SAP focused in its study the existence of key gaps as identified from the study included customer centricity, personalized experiences, openness in privacy and data control, as well as sustainability and ethical behaviour.

About three in five consumers in Singapore are now expecting brands to be purpose-driven, going beyond profits and transactional relationships, to demonstrate trustworthiness, empathy, shared values, and care for society.

Singapore consumers surveyed indicated a gap between their expectations and actual experiences on this front, in areas such as brands respecting the rights and welfare of their workers (80% vs 67% in APAC), treating suppliers ethically (76% vs 56% in APAC), actively work to reduce gender and racial inequality (73% vs 55% in APAC), and not engage in anti-competitive behaviour (70% vs 54% in APAC).

“While it’s positive that brands in Singapore have adapted quickly to the pandemic by tapping on digital tools and turning to e-commerce, customers still expect brands to deliver on the basics – this means providing them with positive experiences and swift resolution of issues,” said Peggy Renders, general manager and senior vice president at SAP Customer Experience in Asia Pacific & Japan.

The study also noted that local businesses were found to be lacking include responsiveness within 24 hours to customer queries (78% vs 51% in APAC), acting on customers’ feedback to improve products and services (84% vs 58% in APAC), resolving issues in less than three interactions (83% vs 55% in APAC), having a reward programme customised to their interests (81% vs 54% in APAC), and offering innovative or better ways to serve customers during COVID-19 (86% vs 65% in APAC).

In addition, delivery endeavors were among the most dissatisfied areas for those surveyed, with 82% of Singapore consumers expecting brands to provide timely and accurate delivery options they could trust, but with just over half (59%) saying this was met in reality. The dissatisfaction over quality and reliability of delivery services especially significant for local supermarkets, where just 55% of Singaporeans mentioned they received trustworthy delivery services (vs 80% expectation).

Proactiveness in engaging customers was another area cited as an area of improvement, with just around half of Singapore customers shared that brands are actively updating them on relevant specials and new products (56%), is proactive in anticipating their needs and wants (55%), and provides tailored suggestions based on their purchase history and preferences (50%).

Being intuitive mobile natives, Singapore customers also want brands to provide omnichannel experiences that enable their lifestyles, expecting brands to provide them with a network of physical and online stores (76%), have easy to transact options across multiple channels such as online to in-store (81%), yet still provide a consistent experience irrespective of channel (82%).

“It is sobering to know that despite all the efforts businesses have put into digitalisation over the past year, fundamentals around customer centricity are still not being met in Singapore. There is clearly an urgent need for brands to humanise the gap between digital actions and the heartstrings of consumers,” Renders added.

Having transparency and control over their data and orders is also a key area brands are falling short on, with Singapore consumers highlighting shortfalls in having full transparency over how their personal data is being used (35% gap), security of their private data and not sharing it with third parties (33% gap), only obtaining private data from customers to serve them better (25% gap), and making it easy to track their orders and queries (23% gap).

Despite the negative light, Singapore brands fair slightly better than the APAC average on the expectation-experience gap, in the areas of whether brands look for new ways to recycle and reuse products, packaging materials and materials (12% vs 18% APAC gap), having specific policies to reduce and report carbon emissions (10% vs 14% APAC gap), and having a strong focus on sustainability and ethics in sourcing and selling their products (4% vs 10% APAC gap).

“The pandemic has laid bare the criticality of the customer experience in our hyperconnected world today. The key to sustainable growth in a post-COVID world lies in the right solutions and leadership that transform the customer experience. As a future-forward nation that is home to the region’s leading businesses, brands in Singapore have a golden opportunity to transform to give customers exactly what they want, and when they want it, in a future that is entirely digital,” Renders concluded.

Technology Featured Global

Software firm R3 launches confidential computing platform for data security benefit

Bangkok, Thailand – Global enterprise software firm R3 has launched Conclave, a confidential computing platform that secures sensitive business data while being used. 

The platform allows firms to securely aggregate their datasets to solve shared business problems for their customers and across markets, without revealing the actual data to anyone. It paves the way for a new generation of trusted services that can detect fraud, reduce cost, build high-value multi-party analytics, and more, where the owners of the data control how it is processed.

Furthermore, the platform is built to be developer- and business-friendly. It has a high-level, intuitive API allowing users to easily write applications on any operating system, as well as code in their language of choice.

For David E. Rutter, CEO at R3, the recently-developed platform responds to a greater need in protecting proprietary data, which is key for a greater commercial opportunity, yet seldomly sent out due to issues of privacy and mistrust.

“R3’s Conclave is uniquely designed to solve this problem of trust through the promise of technologies such as confidential computing and Intel SGX. Conclave offers best-in-class technology, backed by the rich experience of our developers and business team, to empower customers to bring about a new era of privacy in data sharing, processing and analysis,” Rutter stated.

Conclave is powered by Intel® Software Guard Extensions (Intel® SGX), to which Anand Pashupathy, general manager of security system software at Intel, said will “help improve the privacy and integrity of data and algorithms in multiparty systems.”

“The developer-friendly capabilities delivered in R3’s Conclave can help expand the use of Intel SGX for enterprise applications,” he added.

Conclave is currently available as a stand-alone platform and is compatible with R3’s flagship blockchain platform Corda Enterprise. Full integration between Corda Enterprise and Conclave is forthcoming.

Technology Featured Southeast Asia

Can UX designers be part of the business decision making process?

Manila, Philippines – Expertise is the name of the game in the workplace, but even that carries a challenge – often you are thought to be limited to your specialization and miss the chance for your voice to be heard in other valuable areas of the company. 

In the field of user experience, designers aren’t an exception who are often left from the business decision-making process, but a principal product designer from Indonesia e-commerce Tokopedia might just have the perfect answer. 

In the recently held UXPH Conference for experience designers last November 14 to 15 in the Philippines, Tokopedia’s Sonya Seddarasan presented a framework that can help UX specialists gain ample background of a product’s marketability, and therefore, get their foot in the “business” door.

Seddarasan has been with Indonesia e-commerce since 2019 where she works with multidisciplinary teams of business, data analytics, engineering, and experience designing.

“[There’s] a lot of culture [where] [UX] designers are being [passed down] requirements, and our job is basically just to empathize with it, and then give [back the result] to [the] product [team]. So you are actually missing a lot of the background work that has to done,” she said.  

In her talk Using Customer Value Proposition as Revenue Model, she explained the structure of how designers can identify a product’s best revenue model with customer value proposition as the entry point.   

Also called a viability assessment, the framework consists of three building blocks: identifying a product or service’s top customer value proposition, coming up with user personas, and then matching the latter to the best revenue model for the business.

With four to six key people in the team, the assessment simply involves asking the right trigger questions, brainstorming a list of the answers, and rearranging them based on priority. 

With the existing product or solution as the baseline, Seddarasan said to ask three key trigger questions to name the top values it offers the user: what value does the solution offer, why should customers use the solution, and what problem is being solved for them. 

With three priority values named, the target users are then identified. Seddarasan said to differentiate them based on four different tiers: their job, their age, their needs, and their behavior.

Similarly with a number of three user groups to focus on, the best revenue model – from pey per use, bundling, or subscription, among others – is matched to each persona. For the final step, Seddarasan said such questions must be asked: how much is the customer in a certain group willing to pay, in what medium are they likely to pay, and where can they find such medium.

In the UXPH session, Seddarasan said by applying such framework, designers won’t need to clamor for validation from stakeholders, whereas an intelligently informed business suggestion would naturally emerge via following the steps.

Seddarasan, having been in the design industry – with experience ranging from graphic and product design to UX – for more than ten years, is no stranger to receiving prejudice from other functional teams in the workplace.

“At the end of the day, you’ll meet different people anywhere, whether they’re accommodating or [not], but everyone has got the same basic behavior. If they know that you actually add up to [the company], no matter how small it is, as long as you know how to speak to them and how to negotiate your way around it, I think everything is workable.”

But despite workplace differences, Seddarasan said pushing for the immersion in business strategy is well worth the effort, for business knowledge could make or break designers’ longevity in the industry.

“UX strategy will be something that is an [asset] for us designers to be able to have a chair, to have a seat in the middle of business environment.” 

MARKETECH APAC is an official media partner at the UXPH Conference 2020: Designers as Navigators of Change, which was held from November 14 to 15, 2020. 

Platforms Featured Southeast Asia

AnyMind Group launches one-stop platform for e-commerce resources

SingaporeーSoftware technology company AnyMind announces its launch of AnyShop, a one-stop platform for the company’s various eCommerce tool platforms and partnered integrations that will help businesses and influencers build their e-commerce capabilities.

Users can enjoy the leverage of the following platform offerings: eCommerce site analytics, social media analytics, product manufacturing, site development, and partnered integrations. 

Through these analytic platforms, businesses and influencers alike can apply automated push notifications, site speed improvements, and mobile app compatibility, just to name a few. Furthermore, marketing users can track, discover, and manage marketing activities through the company’s in-built platform, AnyTag.

When it comes to product tracking and promotion, users may use AnyFactory, the group’s in-built cloud platform that allows production efficiency by making it a one-stop-shop for sourcing to manage orders across Asia. The company also offers eCommerce site development and partnered integrations through sales channels and online payment providers, such as providing Shopify services for the Japan market.

“True to our renewed mission of making every business borderless, we are breaking down borders within our own products and business lines to create new value for businesses and individuals today. This only adds on to what we’ve developed and achieved for the marketing and entertainment tech spaces, turning us into a true brand enablement platform,” said Kosuke Sogo, CEO and co-founder of AnyMind Group

AnyMind envisions in the near future to expand their software platforms by launching a separate logistics management platform for warehousing management, and also an end-to-end solutions for business and individuals from production, marketing, and distribution.