This month, MARKETECH APAC truly lived up to its name. For the top 5 stories this September, we saw a diverse set of newsmakers hailing from around the APAC region.

The top stories were identified based on Google Analytics from August 17 to September 15. In the list, two great brands from Southeast Asia and East Asia flexed their creative prowess to showcase novel brand marketing moves. Marketing leaders also continue to dominate the list; a marketing executive from South Asia recounted her almost two-decade marketing journey, another one, an APAC business director filled us in on a growing buying trend that no one saw coming amid the pandemic, while a significant appointment from ANZ also grabbed people’s attention this month. 

Top 5: Shopee gets fictional character Phua Chu Kang as new face of the brand

Ever since eCommerce platform Shopee was launched, it has only been putting its trust to big, international names to represent its brand – that would be Kpop girl band Blackpink and professional footballer Cristian Ronaldo. During its 9.9 super sale, the brand decided to show what hyper localization really means by getting not just any local personality, but a deeply rooted cultural icon – sitcom character Phua Chu Kang.

Phua Chu Kang, played by actor Gurmit Singh, is the title character of the longest-running sitcom by network Mediacorp, which revolves around the misadventures of the Phu family.

The show ran from 1996-2007, and within that time, Singaporeans grew to love the eccentric, overly confident, and yellow-boots wearing contractor. So what has truly made the Shopee team go for this rather unconventional stint?

Speaking to MARKETECH APAC, Head of Marketing Tiger Wang said, “The [appointment] marks another milestone for us as we continue to build on the hyper-localized approach and deepen our engagement with the local audiences. Phua Chu Kang is a household name and a celebrity, [and] local icon. His ability to resonate with and unite local communities aligns with Shopee’s vision, making him the best choice for us.”

Top 4: Hong Kong-based Towngas cooking academy extends its expertise to YouTube 

Amid in-person limitations during the ongoing pandemic, many brands and businesses alike have turned to the virtual side of things. Take Hong Kong-based cooking school Towngas Cooking Centre as an example. The culinary academy which has flame cooking at the core of its program, has gotten things rolling this September as it forayed to YouTube this month, and it doesn’t stop at that. It has a bunch of high-caliber celebrity chefs to boot, tapped to showcase the school’s virtual sessions.

Healthy Monday, French Wednesday, Culinary Tips4U, and Star Chef Weekend and Sunday Mom & Dad are just some of the quirky-titled lessons that are slated for its YouTube viewers.

General Manager for Retail Marketing & Sales Catherine Wong said that the occurrence of COVID has definitely pushed Hong Kongers to prefer home-cooked meals to dining out, and this is what ultimately brought the brand to make the most out of the situation. 

Top 3: Healthcare marketing maven Jasrita Dhir

Last month, the #MARKETECHMondays episode of Philippines’ Mark De Joya entered the top five list, and this time, another one of the webisode’s guests – India-based marketing leader Jasrita Dhir has been one of the stories that garnered the most views.

Jasrita’s marketing expertise expands almost two decades, where she’s worked with a list of well-known brands such as consumer product giant Procter & Gamble, hospitality brand Oberoi Hotels and Resorts, and television media company NDTV before having focused entirely on brand and marketing for healthcare services. 

Currently, she is the assistant vice president for healthcare provider Fortis Healthcare in India. When we sat down with Jasrita during her #MARKETECHMondays episode, she shared some very helpful advice that could be very well treated as a guiding light to budding marketers. 

“I just have two things to say to [marketers]; the first is, please never forget why you decided to become a marketer. There would be times in your journey when you’re feeling low, but constantly remind yourself [your why], [which is] because you want to be your consumer’s voice inside your organization,” said Jasrita. 

‘The second is keep upgrading; it’s nobody else’s responsibility to upgrade your skills. Because your consumer is going to keep changing; there are new avenues, [mediums], [and] new platforms. You have to have their pulse,” added Jasrita.  

Top 2: Stella Berry’s take on a new phenomenon in shopping amid the pandemic

Have you heard of revenge shopping? We bet not, but we too are sure that it would be a term soon to ring bells. In a nutshell, revenge shopping goes hand in hand with luxury shopping. It is a phenomenon that sees luxury stores opening their doors to shopping-starved consumers looking to avenge their months spent holed up at home during the lockdown.

This month, Regional Business Director of mobile advertising solutions Adludio, Stella Berry dedicated a full thought leadership article on the buying trend.

Stella said that it is a testament to the unique relationship consumers have with luxury. 

“No one could have predicted that after months of lockdown, the need for luxury goods has resulted in long queues outside of boutiques. This phenomenon is the result of brands, really making the effort in continuing to engage with people even during the lockdown,’ shared Stella.

All looking positive for brands and consumers, but Stella also puts out a caution.

“Returning to business as usual at this [rapidly] accelerated pace could bring about a negative impact [on] the environment, and consequences on sustainability. So luxury marketers need to find their balance to ensure the brand continues to remain sustainable, but also well-loved,” said Stella.

Top 1: Cognizant ANZ ropes in former PwC executive Jane Livesey

Our top story for the month comes from Australia and New Zealand, and from global IT firm Cognizant at that. In August, former PwC managing partner Jane Livesey was roped in by the firm to become CEO

Livesey breathes and lives IT. At PwC, she led over 800 IT professionals for the company’s technology consulting practice team in Australia; while for 12 years, she served as tech managing director for Accenture. With a seasoned IT experience under her belt, Livesey has also become an active advocate for women in the field of science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics, or STEAM. 

It hasn’t been very long since Jane settled into the role, and as we checked up on her, she shared with us, “It’s been great to join Cognizant and hit the ground running in Australia and New Zealand. Over the past few weeks, I’ve had conversations with both our clients and our teams. At Cognizant, we are focused on how to enable organizations in ANZ to keep on top of era-defining innovations and drive growth in the face of continuous technological and market changes. As CEO of ANZ, my priority is to provide local enterprises and governments with high-quality, market-leading digital transformation capabilities that enhance the lives of people and support digital-first.”

Watch the MARKETECH APAC REPORTS of these top five stories, with exclusive appearance and commentary from the newsmakers themselves.

If you have interesting stories, thought-leadership pieces, and case studies in the area of marketing, technology, media platforms, and SME, please send us an email at [email protected]. Who knows your story could be part of our top 5 next month.

Bricks-and-mortar has taken a nosedive in recent months all over the world, and luxury is undoubtedly one of the hardest-hit sectors. But with lockdown measures easing up, the economy is starting to show signs of recovery via ‘Revenge Shopping’, a phenomenon that sees luxury stores opening their doors to shopping-starved consumers looking to avenge their months spent holed up at home during lockdowns. 

This is especially prevalent in China, whose shoppers make up one-third of global luxury sales. Hermes is said to have generated $2.7 million in sales on the day that their flagship store in Guangzhou, China reopened in April, marking this as one of the biggest single-day shopping sprees at a luxury outlet in the entire country.

Will discounts hurt the image of luxury brands?

In order to encourage shoppers to step out of their homes and shop outside, shopping malls and retail brands are incentivising consumers with vouchers and massive discounts to encourage this phenomenon. 

Luxury fashion brands, that were once perceived as unattainable, out of reach and reserved for a privileged few, have diversified their customer base in order to access the new breed of Gen-Z consumers as they reach shopping maturity and begin to demonstrate significant purchase potential. 

According to South China Morning Post, local governments are further fuelling the return of bricks-and-mortar shopping by issuing prepaid coupons, with at least 30 cities across APAC reportedly having issued residents over US$706 million worth of shopping vouchers.

Shoppers now have a vast spread of luxury options to splurge on, as luxury brands redefine their brand values and make them more accessible to the masses. But not all agree that discounting is the right strategy for luxury brands. 

“Having your products be more coveted is often something that can drive higher earnings,” said Sucharita Kodali, a retail analyst with Forrester Research. “That’s what makes the luxury sector unique.”

Is revenge shopping truly for everyone?

Despite its success thus far, qualms remain about the longevity of the revenge shopping phenomenon. Revenge shopping applies mainly to the happy few who can afford high-price-point items, keeping the wider population at arm’s length. According to a recent survey reported in Quartz, 41% of respondents would reduce spending to prepare for future crises. Only 8% expressed willingness to do more shopping after the outbreak. 

In another survey 68% of people say they expected their income this year to be lower. With many having been put on furlough, having had their salary decreased or having had lost their job altogether, the main consensus will be of wariness and care.

On the flipside, a recent study by Rakuten Advertising reports that Asian consumers are more likely to increase their shopping spend, especially when it comes to big holidays such as Christmas and Lunar New Year, compared to their Western counterparts.

The downsides of a swift economic recovery

While stores may be relieved about increased revenue after months of economic downturn, they would still face the issue of excess inventory. It might not be such good news for the planet, and scientists warn that returning to business-as-usual at an accelerated pace could bring about negative impacts to the environment. 

The fashion industry, already contributing 10% of global carbon emissions, is also a major driver of waste, unsustainable agricultural production and water contamination causing major harms to wildlife. With revenge shopping on the rise, it is likely that the bounce back in demand for fashion will reignite these environmentally destructive practices that make future pandemics more likely. 

As brands face the pressure of recovery and clearing stock to make way for new collections, e-commerce and affiliate marketing may help with targeting newer and a wider range of audiences.

A few weeks after the reopening of the economy post-pandemic, almost 80% of shopping mall merchants observed customer foot traffic at levels more than half of what it was before the Covid-19 outbreak, according to the China Commerce Association for General Merchandise. Looking back, during the financial crisis of 2008-2009, luxury was also one of the categories to recover the quickest. 

If history is any indication, the luxury economy may be forecasted to experience a healthy and speedy return to normality, thanks to revenge shoppers. However whether this phenomenon is sustainable for luxury brands themselves and the environment, that answer is yet to be discovered.

The author is Stella Berry, Regional Business Director of Adludio, a premier advertising platform for delivering brilliant creative on mobile devices.

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