China leads in digital innovation

20 November 2014

HONG KONG: Marketers around the world have much to learn from what is happening in China, according to a leading industry figure, who regards it as leading the field in terms of digital innovation and O2O.

Speaking to Campaign Asia-Pacific, Michael McLaren, global CEO of MRM/McCann, enthused about digital developments in that country. "The China digital landscape in unbelievable," he said. The innovation he saw taking place there was "truly world class".

One reason for this may be that Chinese marketers are less set in their ways of thinking than their counterparts in more developed markets, as consumerism has really only taken off there in the past six or seven years. Consumers are similarly open to new ways of doing things.

"I think there's a receptivity to innovation in that marketplace that is not something you see everywhere in the world," McLaren observed.

He singled out phone manufacturer Xiaomi as an example that any brand anywhere could learn from, particularly its engagement with users, with feedback encouraged and the lessons learned incorporated into new products and product upgrades.

That effective use of social and digital could, he suggested, be successfully tied in with a more traditional media approach. But, he added, "there's no one playbook. You have to make some educated bets on what you can do and do them very well".

Another area where he saw China setting the pace was in O2O, with digital technology being integrated into many aspects of everyday life, from the use of apps to hail taxis to paying for items in-store using a digital wallet.

"The guys who are going to be nimble are the guys who are going to recognise that it's the marriage of digital and physical [that brings success]," McLaren said.

He added that digital technology was "probably only at the black-and-white TV stage" of development and was going to become ever more sophisticated.

Data sourced from Campaign Asia-Pacific; additional content by Warc staff