Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – In the evolving landscape of marketing, innovation and connectivity come together in order to shape the future of consumer engagement. As such, data-driven insights, artificial intelligence, immersive experiences, and purpose-driven strategies are taking center stage, guiding brands towards more personalized, authentic, and impactful connections with their clients. 

However, since these advancements continue to be quite challenging for many in the field, what strategies can brands and marketers employ to effectively traverse present and upcoming technologies and incorporate them into their marketing campaigns?

To equip brands and marketers with the latest insights, strategies, and tools to prepare for the upcoming trends and predictions in the industry, MARKETECH APAC’s What’s NEXT Series returns with a hybrid conference this December 5 at Sheraton Imperial Kuala Lumpur. Titled “What’s NEXT 2023: Marketing in Malaysia.” This conference brings together some of the brightest minds and thought leaders in the Malaysian marketing industry to share their experiences, knowledge, and insights on what the future holds for marketing. 

The hybrid conference will be hosting keynote presentations, as well as multiple panel discussions and fireside chats by Malaysian industry leaders covering industry topics such as emerging technologies like AI, customer experience, influencer marketing, digital advertising, amongst others.

Furthermore, the conference features a diverse lineup of marketing leaders across Malaysia who will be sharing their insights on how the industry should move forward in terms of building effective marketing strategies and future-proofing them. They include:

  • Ngai Yuen Low, Group Chief Merchandise And Marketing Officer of AEON
  • Norsiah Juriani Johari, Director of Group Marketing at Astro
  • May Ling Chan, Head of Brand and Marketing Services of CelcomDigi
  • Dheeraj Raina, Chief Marketing and Strategic Communications Officer at Gentari
  • Jessica Jenna Tan, Director of Marketing Communications at InterContinental
  • Tynn Tan, Head of Growth (Content) at PropertyGuru Group
  • Evelyn Lee, Head of Marketing at Secret Recipe Cakes & Cafe
  • Adrian Burton, Senior Vice President Marketing of Valiram

Joven Barceñas, founder and CEO at MARKETECH APAC, said, “We are thrilled to introduce the What’s NEXT Conference to Malaysia, offering a unique platform to showcase the innovation in Malaysian marketing and ignite visionary discussions within the dynamic intersection of marketing and technology. This presents an exciting opportunity for Malaysian marketing leaders to spearhead conversations on the future of marketing in the region, driving the dialogue about what lies ahead.”

Earlier this year, MARKETECH APAC also hosted What’s Next 2023: Marketing in Asia Pacific, which was held as a 2-day hybrid conference in the Philippines at the Crowne Plaza Manila Galleria from February 28 to March 1. The conference was attended by more than 200 in-person attendees and more than 100 virtual attendees including a diverse pool of Philippine and international brands and agencies.

What’s NEXT Conferences will also be held in Singapore and in the Philippines in March 2024.

What’s Next 2023: Marketing in Malaysia is part of the conference roadshows under MARKETECH APAC’s What’s NEXT Series. To learn how to be a part of this conference, click HERE for further details.

For sponsorship opportunities, please contact Joven Barceñas at [email protected].

Meanwhile, please contact Katherine Sy at [email protected] for speaking opportunities; and Jizelle Barceñas at [email protected] for registrations.

Manila, Philippines – Every time a year nears its end, marketing and advertising leaders are always on the lookout for what they must anticipate next. And whilst challenges may be ahead – especially coming from a post-pandemic era – come with them are also fresh opportunities raring to be activated. Nonetheless, for both to be conquered, we would need a deeper understanding of strategies based on the forecasted trends and behaviours in the industry this coming 2023.

As the world begins to open from the folds of the pandemic, marketers need to take in the learnings of the past two years and use it to push forward. But in an industry increasingly shifting due to the fluidity of consumer behaviour, marketers need strategic and intelligent foresight to ensure that the right direction is being coursed through. 

For the first time ever, marketing-centric digital media for APAC,  MARKETECH APAC, launches What’s NEXT 2023: Marketing in Asia Pacific – its first foray into a hybrid conference. The 2-day conference, which will be held from February 28, 2023 to March 1, 2023, aims at gathering some of the biggest marketing leaders in Asia-Pacific to discuss the various opportunities across a wide range of marketing sub-industries.

What’s NEXT 2023: Marketing in Asia Pacific is part of MARKETECH APAC’s What’s NEXT 2023, a four-month-long festival that discusses how marketers can prepare for the upcoming year of marketing opportunities and challenges through the perspective of various marketing leaders and through various mediums.

Some of the topics included in the conference are neuromarketing, composable commerce, customer engagement, metaverse marketing, cookie-less advertising, branding strategy, content marketing, and influencer marketing, among others. The first day (February 28) will be held both at Crowne Plaza Galleria in Manila, Philippines and virtually at the same time, while the second day (March 1) will be held virtually only.

The lineup for the marketing leaders that will be speaking at the conference includes:

  • Gino Riola, chief marketing officer at Allianz PNB Life
  • Mary Eunice Lodripas, associate director for marketing at Ascott International Management Philippines
  • Diana Boo; chief marketing officer at Boost
  • Bea Atienza; impactful brand experience lead at Colgate-Palmolive
  • Denice Sy, chief sales and marketing officer at Ever Bilena Cosmetics
  • Sheila Paul, chief marketing officer at Home Credit Philippines
  • Mark Opao, communications planning partner for APAC and META at Kaspersky
  • Waikuan Wong, global head of marketing at Malaysia Airlines
  • Weldon Fung, social solutions lead for Southeast Asia at Meltwater
  • Anna Henwood, chief executive officer at Stickybeak

What’s NEXT 2023: Marketing in Asia Pacific is sponsored by Carousell, Hubilo, Meltwater, and Stickybeak.

Check out the full agenda of the What’s NEXT 2023: Marketing in Asia Pacific conference here.

Interested industry leaders may contact Katherine Sy at [email protected] for speaking opportunities and Joven Barceñas at [email protected] for sponsorship opportunities. For general inquiries, contact us at [email protected].

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 Smartly.io 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.

Businesses that have been receptive to the various shifts in market demand and have effectively pivoted their corporate strategies are well-equipped to ride the economic upswing expected in 2022. 

The ride-sharing industry in particular has had to contend with the massive setbacks that were precipitated by the COVID-19 pandemic. During the onset of the pandemic, a survey by market research platform Milieu Insight showed that 45 per cent of people in Singapore were spending less on ride-hailing services than usual, while a significant 36 per cent were increasingly concerned about the COVID-19 situation. Travel restrictions, compounded by lockdowns, circuit breakers, and stringent safety management measures, have and continue to disrupt regular consumption habits.

The ‘modern’ rider

Ride-hailing itself continues to be a viable service as consumers turn to mobility apps to book rides and avoid the crowds in public transportation.

The ability to move from one point to another, be it through private rides or small-group carpooling, proves to be a boon for those who prefer not to worry about braving crowds. A McKinsey report on shared mobility showed that during COVID-19, ridesharing is a preferred option to trains and buses, in which social distancing is challenging.

We believe that this is due in large part to the consistent emphasis on health and safety standards within the ride-hailing industry, even prior to the pandemic. Consumers have immense trust and confidence that they are more safe and secure when using ride-hailing services. With the onslaught of the pandemic, the industry has taken even greater measures to ensure the health and safety of its riders by committing to regular wipe downs and mandated mask-wearing.

These steps have further solidified the public perception that private rides offered by ride-hailing apps are safer than public transit. A Singapore Management University survey found that Singaporean commuters were more likely to opt for private-hire cars and/or taxis over public transportation. With the looming threat of the more easily transmissible Omicron variant, we expect the use of this service to grow in 2022 as consumers continue to prioritise their health and safety.

There is also a shift in mindset that we increasingly see in people today. Private rides are not a matter of luxury anymore, but rather about comfort, practicality and reliability. Discerning consumers are able to weigh the pros and cons of each viable option. While public and private transportation each has their merits, ride-hailing services offer the midpoint of being hassle-free and fairly priced.

Revving forward

With Singapore treating COVID-19 as endemic and the country’s gradual transition to a hybrid work arrangement, consumers could strongly benefit from the advantages of ride-hailing. As the daily commute becomes an antiquated concept for many of us, ride-hailing is now an attractive, stress-free alternative for the cost-conscious, given the irregularity of in-office work.

At present, ride-hailing providers have gone on to offer subscription plans that are a cost-efficient, practical option to those who need more of these services. Subscription plans not only come with discounts or cashback but also with bonuses and special offers that give consumers more bang for their buck.

As two of the major market demands from the industry currently are the incorporation of food delivery services and a safe, worry-free ride-hailing experience, subscription plans have likewise come to reflect these consumer appetites. In Singapore, several ride-hailing companies have started offering bundled subscription services that combine both food delivery and ride-hailing services in a singular monthly plan. This is made even more practical as riders can adjust these monthly plans in accordance with their consumption patterns. Through these subscription plans, ride-hailing companies are able to provide a convenient and reasonably priced alternative for working commuters who are currently adjusting to the novel idea of hybrid working.

As the practice of hybrid work and the demand for food delivery remains stronger than ever, subscription plans will serve as a strong foundation for the ride-hailing industry to grow in 2022. With more of these plans emerging in the future, it is up to service providers to offer increasingly more attractive, competitive plans that consumers could adhere to for a long period of time.

Riding into the future

It has been roughly two years since everyone had to do an almost complete overhaul of their routines. However, this also means everyone had two years to adjust and embrace this new environment.

The changes in consumer behaviour offered ride-hailing providers several windows of opportunity they can leverage on, and the continuous rise in the number of users and increased appreciation of the convenience and practicality of the services these companies offer are to be expected. We’ve seen that the ride-hailing industry, in particular, is not only in lockstep with the shifting market demands, but is also proactive and strategic in its handling of the distinct challenges brought about by the pandemic.

Ride-hailing companies changed gears as they saw fit, and the road seems well-paved for them to continue to do so in the future.

This article is co-written by Terence Zou, CEO and founder of Ryde, and Katrina Adrianne, PR & communications lead at Ryde.

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.

The world is at the tipping point of innovation – with emerging technologies and new realities changing the way people live, work, and function. However, the surplus of possibilities may prove to be confusing for some as the right path to take is not always clear. And in the events space where the playing field for old and new entrants is becoming more competitive, there is a need to push for more creative and alternative solutions to make events a more impactful marketing channel.

Event organisers and marketers are some of the world’s most creative minds, and when they are empowered by a platform that enables them to deliver their complete vision and technology that propels immersive experiences, they are powerful forces to be reckoned with.

Particularly in the hybrid and virtual arena, marketers have the ability to achieve things they have never been able to before in a much faster and more efficient manner. They can test, measure, optimise, and refine strategies to make informed and more thoughtful marketing decisions.

True enough, the pandemic has clearly shown how far the tech-savvy can push boundaries and explore infinite digital possibilities. Marketers work behind the scenes to deliver content in reimagined ways. They have the greater potential to thrive in the digital future, unlike those who refuse to innovate, opting to stick with the formulaic, overused strategies that are unadaptable towards the changing landscape.

Events as a category will continue to grow, change, and take on new forms as they become the next go-to marketing tool for engagement, experiences, and greater connections for communities. It is up to marketers to seize the potential of events and change the way they market to deliver an experience that engages in manners deserving of our new digital-first audiences.

The emergence of event technology

In 2020, many brands jumped onto the ‘virtual event’ bandwagon so as not to lose out on massive amounts of revenue, demand, and brand growth.

Yet, the early stages were an insane scramble as event organisers at first settled on the easy solution – the monotonous webinar-like ‘events’ – a poor substitute to what engagement during a live in-person event was like.

However, event tech visionaries did not confine themselves to the limits of one-to-many engagements. They came up with innovative and exciting ideas of what real virtual events should be like, and transformed these into reality.

Voila! The space was buzzing with excitement, as the emergence of exciting event tech features did wonders to the overall virtual event experience. Event platforms also took a step further to test out various formats, determine what works best for each region and segment and provided tailor-fit solutions that answer the organisers’ business goals.

Mastering the game experience of events

The transition from in-person to virtual and hybrid is uncharted territory for most, and the modern marketer needs to be armed with the proper ammunition to deliver a successful event.

Marketers have a big vision of what the virtual event should be like, and having the right platform that allows them to achieve this vision without any compromise is crucial. This platform needs to be equipped with robust technology that can power and deliver more immersive and unique experiences to the attendees.

In fact, they can even take it several steps further by working with services that can turn the virtual or hybrid event into an experience. Who says that happy hours can only happen at in-person events? The beauty of technology nowadays is there is always something for everything, and if marketers want to replicate and improve this happy hour experience, they can most definitely do so. By working with the right vendor, marketers can have champagne, cocktails, and even gourmet hors d’oeuvres delivered to the doorsteps of event attendees, enjoyed during smart match-made 1:1 meetings that deliver business solutions.

Everyone needs all the support they can get, and as many event marketers are not born digital gurus, having an ecosystem of support is crucial to running a successful event. Support can come in the form of having an in-person team in the green room with you, a virtual tech team running the backend, and a 24/7 customer success team – all of which a strong event platform can provide for, all to ensure that your vision is fulfilled, and the goals pertaining to that event are achieved from pre- to post-event.

A successful event is not a one-man show. This is why resourceful marketers must make use of the tools at their disposal to create unforgettable experiences.

Data will dictate the success of future events

The rise of data analytics works in the marketers’ favour, who can now utilize data-driven insights and ensure multiple returns on investment.

Through tests and experiments, marketers go about executing various event formats and determining what works best for each audience segment, and with a data audit at the end of an event, they can pull out relevant insights that are useful when planning for future event strategies.

Data is also a powerful tool in selling the big vision to the C-suite. While it may not be available all the time, insights from general observations and past experiences can still be considered as raw, unfiltered data that marketers can use to strengthen their case.

Chief marketing officers (CMOs) obsessed with marketing and sales performance are aware of the plethora of data available and at their disposal. Given its sheer volume, velocity, and variety, finding the right data and shaping it to fit the market needs is how growth-oriented marketers can continue improving their marketing strategy.

Data is also a great discovery tool for risks, and having a data audit trail allows marketers to identify the gaps and opportunities to take on risks and plan a strategy unlike before. The test and learn approach is becoming increasingly popular among modern marketers since it has created the culture of actively testing new strategies, learning what works and what does not, which then guides marketers to achieve the best positive results

Embracing and understanding the BIG vision

The modern marketer is unafraid to embrace their big vision. With new technologies rapidly emerging, the marketing channels and the categories offered to customers are also expanding. It is up to marketers to be more creative and reimagine things differently to capture their audience’s attention.

Great marketers own both the market and voice of the customer… and, lest we forget, happy, engaged customers drive successful marketing campaigns.

The marketer, therefore, is the happiness agent – ensuring that the experience they are trying to market is on par with the experience that the attendees will get, if not even better.

The possibilities are endless, and the modern marketer must brave the ever-changing landscape and ride on the rapidly evolving digitalisation trend to pursue new and innovative big ideas and create an outcome unimagined.

This article is written by Cathy Song Novelli, senior vice president for marketing and communications at Hubilo.

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.

Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) was first introduced over 15 years ago in Europe, as a payment platform that allows shoppers to split their purchases into interest-free monthly deferred payments, usually by scanning an in-store QR code or upon checkout at a partner retailer’s website.

In recent years, BNPL has gained immense popularity amongst merchants and consumers in Asia, with its market share expected to more than double by 2024, according to the Global Payments Report 2021 by FIS-Worldpay. While BNPL is seen as a rising global movement, it is important to note that the use case and macro landscape across the regions vary significantly. 

Unlike established markets such as the United States, Australia and Europe, Asia is highly fragmented (eg. credit profile, religion, language, culture) with a large unbanked and underbanked population, especially in emerging markets such as Indonesia and Vietnam. For example, in Southeast Asia (SEA), only 27% of the overall 670 million population has bank accounts. This sizable gap in traditional banking penetration has resulted in at least 438 million unbanked or underbanked consumers, with limited access to basic financial services and subsequently, a thin credit profile. Consequently, retailers should partner with BNPL brands with robust risk assessment and credit profiling technology to minimise transaction rejects and fraud cases. 

SEA is also leading the charge in digital consumption, having added 60 million new digital consumers to the internet economy since the pandemic started. The massive digitisation that the region witnessed in 2020, triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic, saw SEA lead as a mobile-first consumer economy. 

Retailers partner BNPL providers to tap on the young and emerging digital consumers – shoppers who are mobile-first and digitally savvy and may be experiencing major life events such as getting their first job or house, getting married, and having their first child. It is estimated that by 2030, 75% of consumers in ASEAN will be under the age of 30.

Physical shopping in SEA remains a social activity for many, and shoppers still prefer to see and touch products before making the commitment to purchase. This is different from other developed markets in Europe or the US where e-commerce is widely adopted because of good public infrastructure (e.g. cheap broadband, good last-mile delivery to every home). 

For the shoppers in SEA, they value omnichannel retail shopper experience, one that allows them to shop and purchase seamlessly across online and offline channels. What this means for retailers and BNPL players in this region is that the physical store experience is critical when it comes to increasing in-store conversion, basket size, and the overall brand and shopping experience.

Merchants who have adopted BNPL in their business have seen benefits including improved sales, traffic, and conversions. With BNPL, merchants can also unlock a new segment of shoppers and understand their shopping behaviours. 


As BNPL matures in Asia, it will evolve from its current basic model of interest-free monthly payments to further enable merchants. We’ve seen examples of new products and services launched, for example, co-branded cards, savings accounts, investment products, and personal finance management.

Traditional banks and even digibanks are also developing and launching their own BNPL offerings. Potential evolution pathways of BNPL and features include:

1. Greater industry adoption

With wider customer adoption and demand for payment choice and flexibility, other retail categories beyond fashion, lifestyle, and beauty categories are experimenting with BNPL. Travel and hospitality, food and beverage, and luxury and premium retail are some examples. 

2. Open-loop payment services 

Open-loop is a payment method that can be used anywhere that brand of cards or e-wallets is accepted. As BNPL gains momentum globally, BNPL players are introducing co-branded credit cards and e-wallets with payment providers to create an open-loop system that is not restricted to signed merchants. This will greatly accelerate BNPL acceptance across retailers who for example, already accept payments for example, via Visa or Mastercard. BNPL brands also partner with payment service providers, web builders, e-commerce enablers to provide integration support for merchants and accelerate the wider acceptance and integration of BNPL solutions. 

3. Social commerce 

SEA is expected to lead the biggest market for social commerce, especially given how a large chunk of its population is entering its prime of technology adoption. Social commerce (78%) has become the second most preferred shopping channel in the region, second only to e-commerce platforms (91%). 

In 2020, clothes, apparel, and accessories continue to lead social shopping (71%), followed by health and beauty (59%), and electronics and appliances (53%). A large majority of Gen Z and millennials are leveraging social platforms not just to connect and explore, but also to shop and inspire. Increasingly, BNPL players are developing social commerce features to create highly targeted and personalised content recommendations to help promote organic engagements with merchants.

4. Customised merchant services 

One of the key strengths for BNPL players is a strong understanding of user demographics and shopping behaviour. Moving forward, BNPL players can invest in co-marketing and merchant-enabler features such as social CRM, loyalty programme, co-marketing, and concierge-like membership services, and this would be crucial in connecting with a community of young, aspirational, and digitally-savvy consumers.

5. Broader financial services 

Finally, BNPL players can also introduce offerings with longer tenures especially for high-value items like electronics and smartphones, and money management services such as savings accounts and investment options. As the BNPL industry continues to thrive in the coming years, the evolution of BNPL will further enable and empower merchants and create a strong and holistic ecosystem that drives engagement and value through every facet of the consumer’s purchase journey.

This article is written by Jeremy Wong, head of strategic partnerships at BNPL platform Atome.

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.

The COVID-19 pandemic brought about many changes to what we know about digital marketing. Businesses have learned that they can operate virtually, and more and more consumers turn to the internet for almost everything they need. Pandemic restrictions propelled the growth of e-commerce exponentially while further cementing the value that content creators and influencers bring to every brand’s marketing mix. 

Influencer marketing has been around for decades, but it has not been until recently when the market more than doubled, reaching USD 13.8 Billion in market size as of 2021, compared to just USD 6.5 Billion in 2019, according to a Statista study. It is predicted that the global influencer marketing industry will grow increasingly faster with the technological developments and the rise of different social networks and platforms.

But before we go even further, for starters, let’s define influencer marketing.

Influencer marketing involves working with people of influence — bloggers, social media influencers, celebrities, thought leaders, charismatic people — in strategically communicating the value proposition of a product or brand. Such promotions are usually sponsored or paid-for endorsements, where social media is the main advertising channel.

Influencers are typically tiered according to their number of followers, where perceived value is attributable to a bigger audience base and compensation is almost always directly correlated to reach.

As we usher in 2022, it is predictable that more brands will jump into the influencer marketing bandwagon, working with content creators and influencers to remain relevant to their audiences. Executive buy-in is not anymore a problem for most marketing teams given the general acceptance of influencer marketing as an important part of the digital marketing pie. Marketing budgets will be appropriated for influencer marketing campaigns, which will then give rise to the demand for influencer agencies, influencer marketing platforms, and influencer managers.

As the influencer marketing industry gains further traction, marketers must prepare for what will most likely lie ahead for the rest of the year. Here are five (5) forces that will drive the influencer marketing industry in 2022 and in the next few years. 

  1. Micro-influencers will continue to prove their value down the customer funnel.

Celebrities and macro-influencers will always have a space in influencer marketing campaigns as they are the ones that drive top-funnel metrics such as reach and impressions, which will always be valuable to any kind of advertising campaign. However, micro-influencers will be the main driving force for visibility, talkability, and even virality in any social media channel. 

Working with micro-influencers levels off the playing field for brands. Bigger brands may have resources to engage celebrities and macro-influencers as campaign headliners, but such brands will always need micro-influencers as amplifiers for their campaigns. While smaller brands may not be able to appropriate big budgets for the big names, they can still work with micro-influencers regardless if budgets are extremely limited.

Micro-influencers have proven time and again that they are able to be more hardworking with their content and engagement. More often than not, micro-influencers are able to engage their audiences beyond surface level, replying to public comments and even private messages. What many brands do not realize is that given this level of responsiveness and interaction, the influencers also become part of the customer’s experience of the brand, which is certainly a richer encounter versus just seeing the brand posted by a famous social media personality.

This influencer-follower engagement makes micro-influencers automatic brand ambassadors, creating content for the brand and personally engaging their audiences to tell the brand story, which proves that even if bigger names trump micro-influencers in terms of top-funnel metrics, marketing investments on the latter are still a more diligent way to spend.

  1. Influencers will be a major driving force for social commerce and live shopping.

Live streaming and live shopping have been growing exponentially since 2020 and this trajectory is predicted to shoot up even further to 2022 and beyond. An article from Forbes.com postulates that sales through live shopping may likely reach USD 500 Billion this year. Major social networks have launched features that incentivize creators to go live. The largest e-commerce marketplaces have poured in copious amounts of investments in putting up tools to support the new wave: shoppertainment

The shoppertainment phenomenon is all about an interactive shopping experience, combining e-commerce, entertainment, and audience engagement. The most popular format of shoppertainment is livestream shopping, where brands get trained presenters to demonstrate the product live, enriching the customer experience of the product to facilitate the journey leading to the point of purchase. Usually, these live stream shows are aided by creators and influencers either through joining the live shows themselves as presenters or promoting the live stream through social media posts. 

In 2018, Instagram launched shoppable posts, allowing brands to tag products in content to create a seamless user experience from post to purchase. Off the live shopping experience, shoppable content in social media is becoming mainstream and influencer content can now be repurposed by brands to be more hardworking.

Social commerce is the awakened sleeping giant in 2022. Increasingly, product discovery will be through social media, and influencers will be the gatekeepers of consumer consideration, purchase, and perhaps even loyalty.

  1. Short-form videos will increase in demand and be the preferred content format for influencer campaigns.

Like it or not, everybody is at the mercy of social media algorithms. Many creators have seen a drastic decrease in visibility of their content in the major social networks, as social media platforms introduce new features that boost the visibility of short-form video content. The growth trajectory of TikTok is impressive and Instagram has taken notice, prompting the launch of Reels. YouTube has kept up with this with the introduction of Shorts, and even subscription streaming service Netflix brought in Just For Laughs in its mobile platform real estate to keep up with the short-form video trend.

The attention span of people becomes shorter and shorter by the day, which posits a challenge for the marketers of today: how do we communicate everything in just a few seconds and still meet the implied requisites of our audience? With marketers grappling to capture and sustain the attention of their customers in overcrowded social media channels, short-form video content made by influencers are the solutions to this challenge.

Short-form video content is more engaging compared to static format content such as text or photos, but less effortful to consume compared to long-form videos. With short-form videos, influencers are able to entertain by showcasing their creativity and personality, educate the viewer about the message and key elements of the brand campaign, and empower their audience to make informed decisions coming from these propositions — all in a few seconds. 

  1. The InfluencerPreneurTM phenomenon: content creators will now be recognized as credible creative marketing channels operating as individual media companies.

Decades ago when blogging was still the newer form of media (compared to traditional publications and television), brands engaged bloggers as its key opinion leaders (KOLs). Bloggers will write about their experience of or with the product, usually getting the product for free in exchange of authentic reviews and placement in their blog sites. Monetary compensation was not common practice then, as blogs were still recognized as personal channels with not much commercial value. After all, while people may have referred to KOLs for guidance in opinion formation and decision-making, most still got their information primarily from traditional media.

However, the days when free products in exchange for posts were the norm are long gone. Now that more and more people are turning to the internet and to social media for product discovery, influencers have found themselves to be owners of prime digital real estate, and prime real estate always comes with a price.

Creators are now fully aware of the value that they bring to brands and quality people will not be willing to work for free. The increasing commercial value of influencer content will bring about the phenomenon of content creation work to be a real, widely-accepted profession, and will give rise to individual influencers being media companies themselves. Compensation for content creation work will be commonplace, as creators and influencers are professionalizing their content creation business by hiring their own teams of professional videographers, editors, and even production teams. 

With this development in the influencer marketing space, brands must now start treating the content creator as an InfluencerPreneurTM: an individual who is in the business of content creation. There are two (2) significant implications to this that modern marketers must remember. First, as an influencer, the content creator is a creative individual that produces creative work, and as such, reasonable artistic license and discretion must be fully allowed by brands in the creation of the materials. Authenticity will remain to be a crucial component of what makes influencer content compelling to the audiences. Second, as an entrepreneur, the content creator treats content creation work as a business venture, and as such, has to be commercially compensated, mostly through monetary means.

  1. Long term influencer collaborations will win over one-off engagements.

Just like in traditional business ventures, long term partnerships with influencers provide the most strategic value over time. The general user base of social media is a clued-up audience — they know when something is paid and they usually second-guess the truthfulness and believability of the information when the content is sponsored. The doubts are fueled even further when they know for certain that the relationship of the influencer with the brand is very transactional.

There are plenty of reasons why long term collaborations are better than one-off engagements, but it all comes down to this: it takes time to make a sale. The marketing “Rule of 7” states that a prospective customer needs to encounter your brand seven (7) times before they are actually prompted to take action. If an influencer talks about a brand once and never again, the likelihood that the message sticks to the followers of the influencer is extremely low. On the other hand, if an influencer talks about a brand consistently in their channels over a prolonged period of time, this communicates that the brand is a part of the influencer’s life, which then builds the credibility of the brand in the minds of the followers of the influencer, and will have a lot of impact on customer lifetime value.

One-off engagements with influencers are still a good way to go about launches and campaigns that are intended to be short term, but real brand value will be driven by influencers only through a long term, ongoing relationship. After all, as digital transformation continues to influence the great migration to the internet (and the metaverse even!), brands will need more creative online partnerships to set them apart in the space.

Ace Gapuz

This article is written by Ace Gapuz, CEO of influencer marketing company, Blogapalooza Inc., in the Philippines.

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.

The pandemic has pushed for even greater dependence on social media. And while the platforms have already been ingrained in the fabric of peoples’ daily lives even pre-pandemic, the current times have made it evolve to now serve different purposes to consumers as well as to give birth to new challenges along with its usage. 

According to Statista, the most popular social media platforms worldwide as of October 2021 are Facebook, YouTube, WhatsApp, Instagram, and Facebook Messenger. The popularized short-video platform TikTok during the pandemic has also expectedly entered the list. 

In an interview with Stewart Hunter, the director of social advertising platform Smartly.io for customer success in APAC, he said that within this overcrowded social media space, brands are not only up against other brands, but are now dealing with a situation that requires them to understand the mindset of consumers towards each social media platform as each gives rise to unique perceptions and behaviours. 

Hunter explains that today, each social media platform has grown to “serve a different role in the funnel and this poses challenges also to the brand message and format in various platforms.” 

One of the greatest changes we saw during the pandemic was the transformation of the role of social media in consumers’ shopping journeys. While social media merely stood as a branding and promotional strategy for brands before, it has now made its way to the purchase pathway itself, serving as the touchpoint from discovery to purchase. 

The multiple consumer touchpoints within social media

As we enter the new year still in the pandemic, it’s crucial to talk about how to approach social media now that it has become consumers’ go-to when searching for brands and products to purchase in the past two years.

Hunter explains that with this being the reality, brands will now have to deal with unique multiple touchpoints present in the consumer journey. 

 “As consumers spend more and more time on social media, they also have multiple touchpoints with a brand before ever making a purchase decision, and every touchpoint matters,” said Hunter. 

This rings true for example with Australian shoppers, where one study found that 64% of 18- to 25-year-olds have researched products on Instagram during the past 12 months, while 67% of those 26 to 35-year-olds have done the same product research, this time on Facebook, within the same period.

Hunter shares a few principles to consider in navigating the new phase of social media, and lo and behold – values that brands must emulate in today’s social advertising are far from novel, emphasising that the fundamentals remain supreme – just directed towards a different goal.

For one, brands must take note of the importance of having a strong brand messaging and creatives.

Through an earlier experiment with some popular fashion brands, Smartly.io has also found that a clear brand identity drives business results and the social advertising platform showed the importance of branding in its platform to help in delivering more than product pictures – across the sales funnel. 

In the post-cookie world as well, creative will be more critical than ever in driving successful campaigns. Hunter says that this has often been undervalued, but as privacy regulations take effect and social media platforms take proactive steps to change the way data is available to be used, advertisers will have to get creative with the privacy-friendly approach in 2022. 

Second, in line with the stronger call for digital privacy, brands need to show that they are data compliant and ensure they are responsible with their consumers’ data.

“People want [openness] and transparency from brands around what their data is being used for and why. We have already seen some changes within the publishing industry, and a number of eCommerce platforms could follow suit,” said Hunter.

Above these changes in social media is an emerging new dimension – with the easing of restrictions, consumers will soon move from online to offline, and it is now brands’ job to find how the interactivity of social media with the offline journey will evolve. 

“Shopping journeys will continue to grow complex as consumers seamlessly move from online to offline (with the easing of the restrictions in some countries) and jump between social channels. Hence for brands to succeed, they need to invest in a multi-platform strategy which allows you to meet your customers where they are while communicating a coherent brand story and ultimately building trust among your audience,” asserts Hunter. 

Jumping into a multi-platform strategy this 2022

Fast gone are the days that each social media platform is viewed in silos. Hunter believes that brands must start diversifying investments across social media channels. 

First of all, there’s no better time than now to start investing in social advertising and ramping up one’s efforts in this area. In fact, according to Smartly.io’s recent annual survey with top CMOs in APAC, one-third of respondents said that they will spend more on social media advertising in 2022 than they did in 2021.

For a brand to create genuine and long-lasting customer relationships with its consumers, building a multi-platform social advertising strategy will be key.

In order to successfully bring this to fruition, Hunter says to focus on talent and find ways on how expertise in the team can be leveraged such as by strategically adopting creative tech. 

72.3% of respondents say that their social media advertising creation and delivery still involve manual processes that are often time-consuming. This manual work can be off-putting to talent and takes time away from the more fulfilling creative and strategic functions of the job. 

With 51.5% of respondents naming lack of talent as one of the biggest internal challenges to their social media advertising processes, it’s time brands prioritise employees and take a closer look at the actual work being done.

Hunter says it’s important to automate in order to create and deliver social media ads at scale. Platforms like Smartly.io allow brands to manage their sprawling campaigns in a single place, enabling easy coordination and optimisation of creatives across platforms and formats. 

Marketing trends to leverage in social advertising 

We now know that we are now up against a different kind of social media and the next crucial step, therefore, is knowing which type of content and format are currently on top of consumers’ radar 

Hunter says right off the bat – video. 

TikTok has led the pack and has shown everybody how powerful short but sweet videos can make an impact on audience engagement. Hunter says the use of video will continue to become more prominent, with mobile being the medium. 

The heightened fondness for videos has made social media platforms Facebook and Instagram roll out more video formats, and we expect to see more brands adopting video. So what type of video content would then attract audiences? 

The style of videos will continue to evolve to follow what consumers want from their brands – which is authentic, open, and closer to their lives, said Hunter. 

According to Hunter, campaigns that are based on user-generated content (UGC) will enable this style of communication and align with what TikTok and Instagram reels were made for – content created by people rather than brands. Advertisers should spend some time understanding how UGC aligns with their brand strategy and resonates with their consumers.

Another one is augmented reality. Today’s virtual reality space has now seen the emergence of the metaverse, which means that earlier immersive tech such as augmented reality will grow more into maturity, making it an imperative format for brands to stay relevant. 

“As consumers get deeper into the use of social media and devices become more immersive and powerful, augmented reality will become a bigger part of social media creativity,” said Hunter. 

AR is no doubt a powerful tool for consumer engagement and makes it even much easier for brands to showcase creativity through applying filters to videos, feature-changing effects to the people in them, and adding playful or informative stickers to enhance the message.

This article is written based on an interview with Stewart Hunter, director of Smartly.io for customer success in APAC.

Smartly.io is a global platform that automates every step of social advertising. With a global team of over 650, the platform automates creative production and ad buying at scale.

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.

The Singapore Business Times reports that in the Asia-Pacific region, more than 21% of the population is unbanked. This is most apparent in Southeast Asia, where more than 44% of people do not have bank accounts. The disparity between the banked and unbanked in the region creates opportunities for digital financial services to close the gap, with the acceleration in adoption already being seen in Southeast Asia. A 2021 report from MoEngage reports a 55% increase in daily users across all digital banking activities.

Source: MoEngage

This movement is led primarily by millennials and Gen Z, who have readily embraced services from online banking to digital wallets. In Singapore and Vietnam, for example, commercial banks have launched digital banking solutions targeted specifically for their younger consumers. UOB, a Singaporean multinational investment bank and financial services company, launched TMRW, an AI-powered mobile-only bank. And MSB, Vietnam’s leading commercial bank, launched TNEX, the first digital-only bank in the country.

Another fast-emerging trend is mobile payments, stemming from the increased usage of mobile phones in Southeast Asian markets. The Fintech Times reports that in the Philippines, there are at least 1.59 mobile phones for every person. Acceptance of mobile payments by both consumer and retailer has paved the way for non-financial companies like Grab, a leading mobile app for transportation and food delivery services in Southeast Asia, and regional e-commerce platforms like Lazada and Shopee, to offer their consumers new cash payment methods.

While giants like Apple, Google, Alibaba, and Tencent have led the way for card-based mobile wallets in more developed markets, stored value mobile wallets are more popular in emerging markets. Credit-card and debit-card usage are lower in the latter, paving the way for local players to grab a share of the growing pie. Some of the top mobile wallet players are GCash (Philippines), GrabPay (Malaysia), Ovo (Indonesia), TrueMoney (Thailand), and MoMo (Vietnam), per a 2021 Boku report.

The growth of digital finance technology and adoption is uncovering new opportunities for marketers in 2022 and beyond, and there are four ways in which these opportunities could be unlocked.

1. Delivery of hyper-targeted ads and end-to-end experiences

The growing scale and data captured by apps with digital finance components provide opportunities for hyper-targeted advertising, where audiences are selected based on their financial capability and purchasing behaviour. Moreover, the loop from awareness to purchase to loyalty can be closed all in a single platform. 

Grab is one of the largest mobile apps in Southeast Asia with a 142m estimated number of users from 400 cities and towns. GrabPay, its financial arm, has been showing robust growth with total payments increasing by 60% year-on-year. The app allows for targeting of audiences based on day-to-day transactions and activities such as the type of card and size of spending along with restaurant visits and shopping behaviours, going beyond the typical interest and affinity-based targeting that relies on proxies of engagement.

Source: Grab

Alongside targeting the right audiences, marketers can drive awareness and consideration through Grab’s placement assets, conversions are fluidly done through GrabFood or GrabMart and loyalty points can be provided through GrabRewards. 

2. Providing more meaningful offers and incentives

Based on the survey of global insurance provider Swiss Re, 58% of respondents across Southeast Asian markets actively searched for new insurance policies during the pandemic and nearly half are open to purchasing new policies because of the outbreak. Digital finance companies are increasing the accessibility of policies through micro-insurance with low cash outlays, especially appealing to Gen Z and millennials.

Marketers can now use digitally distributed policies to make offerings and incentives more relevant for younger generations. For instance, Digi Telecommunications, a mobile service provider in Malaysia, partnered with AXA Affin, a multinational insurance and finance company, to provide free life insurance to its new prepaid plan subscribers. Similarly, Tiki, an e-commerce site in Vietnam, partnered with FWD, a life insurance company, to provide free coverage for 100,000 customers. 

3. Scaling promotions beyond point-of-purchase

One of the key benefits of digital finance is the ease of distribution of digital vouchers and rewards. Mobile wallets are already being used as distribution channels for relief funds or e-vouchers of food and medicine. Brands can capitalize on this phenomenon through digital-based promotions and sampling, giving them a broader scale versus on-ground activations. This is especially relevant in the pandemic environment wherein mounting events or delivering items are more challenging due to varying restrictions. Instead of manually handing out coupons and prizes, marketers can now partner with e-wallet apps for cashback promos and automated rewards redemption.

4. Increasing the accessibility of products and services

Traditionally, purchasing big-ticket items can only be done by the small base of affluent consumers paying with cash or with credit cards. Today, even the unbanked can pay in instalments with convenient applications and fast approvals through e-commerce platforms. Ecommerce platform Lazada partners with financial apps in the Philippines and offers LazPayLater in Indonesia to allow non-credit card customers to pay in increments. Shopee offers SPayLater in Indonesia and Thailand, wherein loans of select unbanked customers are approved in as fast as 10 minutes.

As more consumers try to stretch their money, they will be more open to purchasing in instalments with minimal interest. Instead of relying solely on credit cards, marketers now have the option to expand their financial partners to e-commerce websites and digital loan providers to enable more audiences to buy their products.

Digital finance adoption is accelerating as consumers become more knowledgeable about the industry’s products and services. Digital finance has created new possibilities for brands and retailers across a myriad of marketing touchpoints, and marketers should be capitalizing on these opportunities to be the first in reaping its benefits.

Elizabeth Shie (left) and Abygayle Brani (right)

This article was written by Elizabeth Shie, senior regional strategist at UM APAC, and Abygayle Brani, regional marketing & communications strategist at UM APAC.

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.

As the usage of third-party data gradually moves out of the picture, this affects the way marketers approach industry disciplines, and this is across the board – from changing the way brands implement audience targeting and retargeting, the demands in order to keep every marketing funnel in optimum shape has greatly transformed.

David Harling, the former CMO and now the managing director of MoneySmart, enlightens us on one particular area – growth marketing. In an interview with Harling, he identifies the weak spots as well as strength areas of a brand’s growth marketing strategies now that the digital environment is about to fully transition to a cookieless and first-party data world.

Customer acquisition vs. customer retention

According to Harling, now that the industry is preparing to adopt first-party data strategies, the cost of customer acquisition will now increase, hence where brands are overly-dependent on gaining new customers, they must now shift the focus to customer retention.

“I think one of the main challenges that most brands are experiencing at the moment, and [something] we’ll find more challenging moving into a cookieless world this year is being too overly dependent on customer acquisition, and [not having] put enough focus into customer ownership, retention, and engagement,” said Harling.

This is true and in a particular study of SEA marketers by AppsFlyer, specifically in the area of fintech, it was found that marketers in the region spent over US$244m in gaining new users.

There is no complex reason as to why lessen the focus on customer acquisition other than continued dependence will make the “ability to grow to cost more.”

“And so clearly with third-party data going away, the targeting abilities and the ability to scale and grow customer acquisition will be more expensive. And so the overall unit economics mix of that in order to try and grow would be more challenging,” said Harling.

Balancing performance-based marketing and brand investment 

One of the challenges as well, Harling cites, in growth marketing presently is striking the balance between focusing on performance-based marketing and brand investment, where as of the present, there’s more focus on the former.

In relation to putting more attention to brands’ customer retention efforts, Harling says that it’s important, therefore, to reevaluate ad budget investment to performance-based marketing and brand investment as brands would need to double down on the latter in order to successfully keep and retain customers.

From an internal view, a qualitative study reflects Harling’s insight. According to a report by  NEON leaders, marketers are actually revealing their fears of losing a generation of strategic marketing leaders, all because of the heavy precedence on output-heavy and metric-based marketing.

“I think another big challenge is how do brands begin to be comfortable again with investing into their brand profile. Clearly, that’s harder to account for or to measure, but in terms of future growth, it’s so important to get the balance between performance-based marketing and brand investments,” shared Harling.

He adds that brands must take action despite brand and customer experience taking much more time and being a lifetime value discipline.  

“Being visible and driving awareness around products and brands is as important, but more challenging and difficult to measure. And again, it becomes more important as you move into a customer retention model,” said Harling.

Much like in a sense of doing the big things well so that the small things can take care of themselves–having a good customer onboarding strategy in place, Harling believes, is key, in order to fully make the focus on customer retention work. And effective customer onboarding can be achieved when marketing and user experience work in concert.

According to a recent 2021 study by Qualtrics, poor customer experiences cost businesses in Singapore US$11b annually, where it was found that 51% of customers in the market have cut spending after a single bad experience with a company.

“And so whatever user journeys or platform experience, or product experience you’re providing, you know, marketing and user experience need to work tighter. Once you have a good discipline to get customer onboarding, you’re making the efficiency of your customer acquisition costs stronger because you won’t need to recruit customers somewhere else,” said Harling.

Driving CRM and loyalty initiatives

Within growth marketing, Harling also shares his insights on the top strategies in successfully building CRM and loyalty initiatives. And he swears by the power of the basics –  understanding your customer better.

“Investing into good customer profiling and looking at the exchange of value that you provide to your customers in order to make them comfortable to provide you with certain things,” said Harling.

Certainly all the pivot in marketing disciplines will take place in accordance with the shift to a cookieless digital environment, and Harling believes that investment in tech such as customer data platforms (CDP) will be one of the best approaches as it puts more emphasis on first-party data as a strategy.

“CDP underpins that first-party strategy and drives good sort of contextual engagement, which again, allows brands to become more dependent or I guess grow their customer base and clearly grow their business based on retaining customers,” said Harling.

“The customer experience and customer relationship discipline – I think if you get that right, you have a good ability to profile your customers and get to know them, and I think your engagements in your CRM become more contextualized and more meaningful to get an outcome,” he added.

In addition, Harling also advises that moving forward, there will be much stronger need for the integration of marketing and product teams. While a lot of companies have jumped into the said unification, many are still not doing it right such as having disconnected KPIs and lack of common goals.

“There’s a lot of brands that say, hey, my product team is so integrated with my marketing team. And actually, if you look at it, it’s nonsense, right? And so this [needs] proper integration [and] accountability, and having common goals. I mean, you’d find a lot of these teams don’t have a joined-up or shared KPIs [and] they’re very separate in the way that they’re accountable,” Harling says.

Harling concludes that among targeted marketing strategies that brands can focus on at this period, it is starting to define their first-party data strategy that would prove to lay a strong foundation.

“And so I think any advice I could give any marketer moving into [2022] is really [to] get their heads around first-party data as a strategic driver, and really understand the relationship between good media activation of that data and also good customer onboarding,” Harling said.

He continues, “And then [figuring out] how do you use that data [to] profile your customers, and really begin to prioritize retention-based marketing, to grow your business. And I can assure any brand that takes that strategic direction, although it’s not easy, and requires a bit of time, you’ll find that you’ll grow your business based on good customer engagement.”

“Good loyalty in terms of customers coming back and driving repeat behaviors and repeat purchases – it will be less dependent on the cost of acquisition model, which I think a lot of brands are still strategically dependent on,” adds Harling.

This article is written based on an interview with David Harling, managing director of financial comparison platform MoneySmart.

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.