To master the new rules of marketing effectiveness post-pandemic, brands must be agile and focus on risk intelligence to grow; they have to get creative right as content consumption soars; and they must use insights and data strategically to tap media and communication opportunities.

Uncertainty still lingers in APAC, even for markets seemingly on top of the pandemic. But as disruptive events continue to change the business landscape, they also open up new opportunities for growth. To win, it’s imperative for brands to master the new rules of marketing effectiveness – no matter the budget.

Agility is essential but brands must hedge against the uncertainty of timing

Kantar Consulting’s Knowledge lead Walker Smith predicts “2021 will be an 18-month year” and across APAC, that will move us from our current “COVID now” dominated by ongoing uncertainty, to a “COVID normal” opening up opportunities as populations are vaccinated.

Finally, the long-awaited arrival of a “COVID social” surge in pent-up demand and social connections will be gratefully welcomed.

But as Walker identifies, the greatest competency required is “hedging against the uncertainty of timing”. 2021 is likely a prelude to the coming era of disruptions and brands must adapt quickly to rapidly changing demands playing out differently in each market.

Brands must shift from risk management to risk intelligence as they focus on agility

Growth and success will belong to brands that move aggressively but hedge their bets against reversal. They will view uncertainty as a threat and an opportunity, using boldness and vigilance to dominate.

Responding with agility – the purpose and will to win – makes it superior to adaptability and speed. Agility means scoping the realm of risk, looking at different outcomes, fighting for risk intelligence, and conceptualising how it lives in a wide range of scenarios.

Brands that thrive are those prepared with agile plans leveraging five growth levers:

  1. Scale – focus on brand scale rather than portfolio breadth as category concentration increases with fewer, bigger brands.
  2. Loyalty – e-commerce growth exposed consumers to new brands and those that grew in 2020 face the retention challenge, especially when rethinking the orthodoxy of loyal categories.
  3. Home – at-home solutions and services will grow and permanently displace out-of-home offerings. First-mover growth will be those who re-map home-based needs, occasions, rituals and media.
  4. Hygiene – health is hygiene for every category. Signal and innovate hygiene solutions that go beyond health and well-being.
  5. Sustainability – create long-term transformative competitive advantage from sustainable practices with communications, logistics, production, materials and energy.

Content must be created in the context and customised to the channel for effectiveness

Rapidly produced content for APAC’s new “entertain-addicts” must still be customised and created to context.

Our studies indicate double-digit growth in content consumption across platforms – subscription models are working and streaming of gaming podcasts are rising. Why?

People are finding comfort through these platforms, which underpins the importance of brands unifying and uplifting consumers.

Creativity is a powerful multiplier. If you get creative right, expect a 16% short-term sales increase and 26% enhancement of campaign performance.

Creative is the single most important driver for building salience but don’t leave effectiveness to chance

It's all about how effectively you are deploying your creative to drive meaning through:

  1. Fortitude – be authentic, bold and brave. Challenge societal stigmas in a brand appropriate manner.
  2. Feeling – creative that elicits emotion generates more impact and consumers will build affinity with brands and ads that make them feel something through your storytelling.
  3. Fluency – brands need strong assets to link campaigns and create intuitive brand recognition. Fluency is about identity and works to create a long-term, unique signature.
  4. Focus – be focused, simple and single-minded. Tell the consumer what is in it for them.
  5. Fun – No “sadvertising”. Ensure that you’re lifting spirits through your narrative or collaborating with brands and making them do fun things. Bring the child out in them and make them smile.

Getting your media right and applying agility to optimise effectiveness is critical

From audience fragmentation and e-commerce disruption, to lack of influencer trust navigating platform and format effectiveness, there are big challenges to optimise media and communication ROI.

But if you use insights and data in a strategic and purposeful way, you can transform challenges into media opportunities in four critical ways:

  1. Connection – APAC consumers are increasingly fragmented and newly digitalised – five out of the six new channels they used last year were digital. Brand campaigns with clear objectives and a focused media touchpoints strategy were 11 times more effective.
  2. Disruption –180 million APAC households shopped through e-commerce in 2020, with half new to the platform. This behaviour is here to stay as our region overwhelmingly witnesses the fastest e-commerce growth driven by social e-commerce, shoppable ads and new conversion routes like livestream sales. Balance brand building and a direct-to-consumer strategy to impact long and short-term sales. Be digital by design, create communities and use data to engage.
  3. Influence – social channel consumption in APAC grew by 61% in 2020 but over half of people do not trust influencers. Yet, our data shows influencers do have an impact, especially in the lower part of the funnel. Carefully choose your influencers – not as tactical activations but as part of your long-term strategy. Campaigns are strongest when they reach across channels in a believable and consistent way.
  4. Medium – shoppable and immersive ads bring many possibilities. Craft a channel strategy from the wealth of options including lower-priced immersive video formats that allow product play. The challenge is choosing the right platform and format to manage and optimise brand equity.

Successful brands use human understanding, intelligence and trend prediction for disruption resilience and agility

Agility must headline your response because it is purposeful and grounded in disruptive periods. Darwin’s evolutionary principles have never been more relevant than today.

Are you prepared to play by the new rules of marketing effectiveness?