Geoffrey Precourt, US Editor, Warc
The annual BRITE conference is an assembly sponsored by the Columbia Business School's (CBS) Center on Global Brand Leadership, and features a mix of brands (as you might expect), innovation, and technology.
BRITE '13 promises to be heavier on the innovation and technology ends, although presentations from the likes of PepsiCo, Intel and Meredith Corp. will drill down on brand strategy and best practice.
The conference also gives marketers a chance for exposure to thought leadership, with a number of speakers drawn from the Brand Leadership center, as well as the Business School faculty.
One of the highlights from the two-day session will be a presentation from Aimia, a Montreal-based loyalty marketing company, which teamed up with the CBS Center on Global Brand Leadership to do a study on "showrooming", where shoppers come into a store to view products, pick out what they want … and then use their mobile phone to find the best price elsewhere.
In reply to the question, "In the last 12 months, have you used a mobile device for shopping for a product within a store?" the totals among respondents from the US, Canada and UK came in at 23%, 18% and 21% respectively. But when the opening day BRITE '13 audience was asked the same question, well over two-thirds of those present admitted to having engaged in this pastime.
Elsewhere, Miklos Sarvary, the INSEAD chaired professor of corporate innovation and a visiting professor at Columbia Business School - where joining the Marketing division to co-direct its media program - will offer a raised-eyebrow look at mobile.
In his BRITE '13 presentation, Sarvary will reveal the results of a new study that flies into the face of waves of digital enthusiasm with the observation that, "A mobile display advertisement operates as a persuasive marketing message, not by providing consumers with new information about a product, but instead by serving as a memory cue that, under certain product-related conditions … can motivate consumers to think about the advertised product."
Given this, the report proposes, mobile should be considered as an additive buy - one that drives consumers back to previous messages - instead of an independent, stand-alone advertising medium.
As Sarvary arrives on the Morningside Heights campus, Bernd Schmitt, the Columbia Business School's professor of international business and faculty director of the Center on Global Brand Leadership, is completing a 2011-13 stint as visiting professor at Nanyang Business School, where he's serving as head of its new Institute of Asian Consumer Insights.
But Schmitt came home to tell the BRITE '13 audience, "This is the century of the Asian consumer." The 20th-Century perspective that held on to the United States as a ground zero for brands and brand development, he suggests, "is changing. It may not happen in the next five or ten years, but it certainly will in the next 15 or 20."
By 2050, he predicted, the economy of China will be triple the size of its US counterpart. Moreover, emerging middle-class wealth will begin to shift the demographics of India and Indonesia towards becoming "sizable" new consumer markets.
As Asia becomes the new commerce center, so it will become the new hub of global marketing. And, Schmitt insisted, 21st-Century marketing will demand that marketers "understand both the similarities and differences among Asian consumers."