Brands operating in China need to consider that competition in future will be focused on consumer time – effectively the only market that matters – and not on concepts such as product category or territory dominance, a leading consultant has argued.

“If you’re able to occupy bigger time share, bigger mindshare and more loyalty, then you will have a bigger market,” according to Zhang Tianbing, Deloitte Asia-Pacific’s consumer product and retail industry lead.

“That is the start of rethinking about your business,” he told the recent Retail Asia Conference in Hong Kong, where he discussed paradigm shifts for China in the digital era. (For more read WARC’s report: The next battle stage for brands? The Chinese consumer’s time.)

Zhang pointed to how China’s e-commerce players are already doing this. “Tencent dominates all your social media stuff – but they are trying to buy into those occasions where they can occupy more of your life scenarios and your time,” he explained.

“In Alibaba’s case, they are involved in one of those moments that’s very different from social media, those transactional moments. But they also want to expand their influence to occupy more of your time, and share in your life’s scenarios.”

This points to one important thing for brand companies to do: “They should be thinking about the times in a person’s life that could be associated with the brand,” Zhang said.

In short, brands must depart from fixating on products and channels and make the customer central to their omnichannel strategy.

Zhang pointed to sportswear brand Nike, with its Nike Run Club and Nike Training Club, as an example of connecting with the lifestyles of consumers.

“Through that, Nike provides professional training programmes to individuals, benefiting from having that very important connectivity to the consumer. To understand, interact, engage and provide products and services for you,” he said.

This cuts across categories, Zhang added. A beverage business, for instance, could consider the “drinking moments” in a consumer’s day relevant to the brand, and think about innovative ways to interact with that consumer and connect to each of those points in their lives.

Sourced from WARC