This month, we saw how the community is eager to have a better year in marketing, with a slew of our What’s NEXT contributor pieces coming out on the list.

We launched What’s NEXT last December 2021 as a collection of thought leadership by marketers in the region in order to better equip the marketing industry with future-proof strategies for 2022. 

This month, three of our top stories are all marketing leaders who shared their insights on various domains in marketing such as conversions, social advertising, and the metaverse. 

Meanwhile, in the part of Southeast Asia, a tech-forward coffee brand emerges as one of the top for launching its new in-app delivery service in Singapore.

Top 4: What’s NEXT: Top tips for CRO this 2022

What’s NEXT: Top tips for CRO this 2022
What’s NEXT: Top tips for CRO this 2022

Coming out on the list is Charlotte Ward’s insight for What’s NEXT, the director of Agnes media. In her piece, she talks about the various ways brands can have better conversions this 2022. 

In an interview with MARKETECH APAC, Ward shared that the very first step in generating more conversions is analytics. 

“The very first step which is extremely important is for the brand to review the analytics, and really understand their customer journey,” said Ward. 

“What people are engaging with, what are they converting on, what pages are driving the greatest results on-site – really getting a full understanding of the first interaction through the last interaction, and identifying where [are] these drop-offs, or if something’s working really well, “ she further shared. 

Ward said that the next important step is researching and identifying different elements you can test on-site. According to her, these could entail shortening a landing page, changing colours, and testing different ways of communicating their product solution. 

Top 3: What’s NEXT: Why brands must adopt a multi-platform strategy for social advertising

What’s NEXT: Why brands must adopt a multi-platform strategy for social advertising
What’s NEXT: Why brands must adopt a multi-platform strategy for social advertising

One of our top stories for the month is the What’s NEXT article of Stewart Hunter, director for customer success of for APAC, where he shared the number one strategy on social advertising today: a multi-platform strategy.

In an interview, we asked what he thinks are the various ways brands can communicate effectively today, and he shared, that as a status quo, there are many choices now since there are a lot of channels that consumers are going to today for their digital lives, “looking at their phones.” 

“Brand should really follow their consumer, and also adopt a mindset of trying to communicate [with] their consumer in a different way, depending on where they are within their social media, social advertising daily journey,” shared Hunter. 

He said that different platforms will require brands to communicate in a different way

“you have to be across platforms, you have to be multi-platform, and you have to think individually about how you’re delivering advertising, delivering effective content on those individual platforms,” said Hunter. 

This April 6, Hunter will be one of the speakers in our upcoming webinar, ‘Social Advertising Trends in APAC 2022’. David Lim, HappyFresh’s VP of marketing, and Chan May Ling, KFC Malaysia’s CMO, will be joining the panel. 

Top 2: What’s NEXT: How businesses and brands can thrive in metaverse

What’s NEXT: How businesses and brands can thrive in Metaverse
What’s NEXT: How businesses and brands can thrive in Metaverse

What’sNEXT contributors are on a roll in this month’s top stories. Coming out as our top 2 is the insight of Cheelip Ong, chief creative officer of Lion & Lion, who shared his top pieces of advice on how businesses and brands can jump into and eventually thrive in the metaverse.

In an interview with MARKETECH APAC, he explained further one of the insights he imparted in the piece which is urging brands to move from being corporation-first to community-first.

“Most brands and organizations are conglomerates, they have an official brand agenda and brand purpose to push. But for brands to actually navigate the space on the metaverse wisely, they got to understand that metaverse will be a result of communities coming together,” he said. 

Ong further shared that people will gravitate towards their interest points and their passion points and as a result, people in the metaverse will be leading double or triple lives where who you are in reality may not be who you represent in the metaverse because we’re all gonna have our avatars. 

“We need to allow brands to understand that you need to hand the power back to the community, to engage the community so that the community can serve your purpose and they can believe your brand purpose and believe your agenda,” said Ong.

Top 1: Flash Coffee launches new in-app delivery service in SG

Flash Coffee launches new in-app delivery service in SG

For our Top 1 story for the month, we have coffee chain Flash Coffee which partnered with pandago, foodpanda’s on-demand express delivery service, to launch a new in-app delivery service for its Singapore customers. 

The brand, which describes itself as a tech-enabled coffee chain, shared how it leverages tech for both on the consumer front and on the back end. 

In an interview with Sahil Arora, Flash Coffee’s managing director, he shared, “At the same time that we allow consumers to order coffee for pick-up in 10 minutes, that’s also [a] trickling and [rippling] effect into our back end operations. Our baristas have a little bit more time to prepare drinks when orders are coming in ahead of time.” 

Arora said that as peakiness is one of businesses’ biggest challenges, data it receives from the pick-up functionality allows them to know when orders are coming in the most, and in turn, helps them to inform their strategies. 

“The most important way that tech is enabling our operations is through the wealth of information that we’re collecting, that we’re able to use and analyse to make smarter business decisions. For customers ordering through our app, we can ask and answer questions like, what customers are ordering in different areas of Singapore, what times of day, [and] typically, what drinks they are ordering,” said Arora. 

“Delivery has become a way of life, whether it’s food, groceries, [or] coffee; so I think to be a tech-forward chain, delivery had to be part of the proposition,” he adds.

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Watch our exclusive interviews with the brands themselves on the latest episode of MARKETECH APAC Top Stories, now live on our YouTube channel.

Ready? Choose your characters

By now, the word metaverse needs no further introduction. First introduced in 1992 by American science fiction author Neal Stephenson in his novel Snow Crash as a virtual world where humans used avatars of themselves to escape a dystopian reality, it has since become a buzzword in Silicon Valley and in marketing.

As Mark Zuckerberg said, “The metaverse will bring enormous opportunity to individual creators and artists; to individuals who want to work and own homes far from today’s urban centres; and to people who live in places where opportunities for education or recreation are more limited. A realised metaverse could be the next best thing to a working teleportation device.”

Sounds amorphous? There is no denying the immense market opportunity for businesses and brands in this space. Bloomberg Intelligence predicted that the market opportunity could hit USD 800 billion by 2024. In 2021 alone, we have seen a multitude of brands tapping into the metaverse to create brand experiences for their target audiences. Nike’s Nikeland and Ralph Lauren’s The Winter Escape were launched on Roblox, and Luxury Marketplace UNXD will launch a metaverse Fashion Week on Decentraland in March 2022.

With all the hype and potential surrounding this emerging evolution of the internet, how can businesses and brands be active and purposeful players with a first-mover advantage?

Move from corporation-first to community-first

The metaverse cannot exist without the participation of avatars ‒ the digital representation of ourselves. Avatars gather around communities that are formed around interests and ideas.

Brands need to learn to engage with existing communities and hand the power back to them. For example, brands gain more traction when they partner with members of the Roblox developer community in creating items and experiences, allowing communities to drive the creation and rewarding them for their efforts.

Blend the real and virtual with digital-twin experiences

A digital twin could be described as the digital representation of a real world entity that is synchronised with the real world. Simply put, they are digital clones of real world objects.

Digital twins will help businesses connect the metaverse closer to reality by linking virtual experiences with real world experiences.

For example, the blockchain-based game Upland allows users to own digital real estates that are mapped to real-world addresses. Each digital property’s value is also tied to an NFT. Now think of the possibilities in which your business or brand can create a digital replica in the metaverse to unravel new data, learnings, and predictions. For example, if you are in a retail business, having a digital twin of your store will help you in predicting your store traffic, queue time, top-selling products, and inventory planning, just to name a few possible advantages.

Tap into the rise of virtual status symbols and engage through collectibles

Image courtesy of Bored Ape Yacht Club

With the metaverse and NFT, status symbols begin to manifest themselves in novel ways in the virtual. For example, the Bored Ape Yacht Club was created by four NFT novices turned internet rock stars, in which the price of the collection is 52 Ether, above USD 200,000. Adidas has also collaborated with Bored Ape Yacht Club, with Bored Apes decked out in Adidas Stripes. The entire 30,000 NFT collection was sold out in a few hours over two drops.

Brands can tap into the need for authenticity and exclusivity in the digital creator economy and offer limited-edition items or assets that can only be found in the metaverse. ​​Gucci offers The Collector’s Room on Roblox, allowing fans to collect rare and exclusive Gucci items in the metaverse. The creation of virtual products and goods will help brands drive deeper penetration, relevance, and fan-love, be it in the real or virtual world.


Connect through Gamification

The metaverse presents a huge opportunity to redefine engagement through play and a huge component of that lies with gamification. The integration of technology from augmented reality, mixed reality, virtual reality, and artificial intelligence, presents a whole new way to connect and engage with avatars in the metaverse.

The ability to gamify your marketing will align your brand with the play-to-earn gaming models that are gaining massive traction in the mainstream.

For example, Axie Infinity was a breakthrough success in the blockchain-gaming world.

Players on the platform earn tokens by winning battles with their ‘Axies’ against other players. These special tokens can then be sold for fiat money ‒ real cash. But to get an Axie, players have to buy one on the exchange or breed them from existing Axies.

Source: Axie Infinity

For another example that is closer to home on how gamification can apply to marketing in the metaverse, here is a metaverse gaming experience developed by digital marketing agency Lion & Lion for virtual social platform Status-K, where social media, tokens, and real world rewards were integrated.


Keep on experimenting

At the time of writing, we are still in the very early stages of the metaverse coming into its full potential. There are still quite a few roadblocks on the pathway toward a bona fide metaverse. For example, interoperability. For true interoperability to happen, cross-metaverse bridges need to be enabled, so that millions of users and communities can migrate their avatars and virtual possessions across the metaverses regardless of platforms or corporations.

While these are guiding insights and ideas on how brands and businesses can navigate better in the metaverse, there will always be paradigms that will be disrupted and created. Marketers need to constantly experiment and stay ahead by understanding technology and being open to fresh creative suggestions. The metaverse will allow entertainment, gaming, marketing, retail experiences, and social interactions to converge and evolve in brave new ways and even set the stage for new businesses to arise.

It is an exciting time for both business owners and marketers to explore this space and to constantly rewrite the playbook through unceasing experimentation and invention.

To end off, I will leave with a parting note and reminder from the book Ready Player One by Ernie Cline, “As terrifying and painful as reality can be, it’s also the only place where you can find true happiness. Because reality is real.”

This article is written by Cheelip Ong, chief product officer and regional chief creative officer of Lion and Lion Digital Group.

The article is published as part of MARKETECH APAC’s thought leadership series What’s NEXT. This features marketing leaders sharing their marketing insights and predictions for the upcoming year. The series aims to equip marketers with actionable insights to future-ready their marketing strategies.

If you are a marketing leader and have insights that you’d like to share with regards to the upcoming trends and practices in marketing, please reach out to [email protected] for an opportunity to have your thought-leadership published on the platform.