To find out what the future holds for brand marketers looking to realise their business goals, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore’s (NTU Singapore), Nanyang Business School (NBS), held a NBS Alumni Leader’s Dialogue titled “The Future Role of Marketing: What You Must Know” featuring a panel discussion among marketing leaders on 18 March.
The dialogue featured NBS alumni Mr Kenneth Choo, Managing Director (Asia Pacific) at Heineken; Ms Foo Siew Ting, Chief Marketing Officer for Greater Asia at HP; and Mr Stanley Toh, Chief Customer Officer, Cycle & Carriage Singapore. It was jointly organised by the NBS Alumni office and NBS Marketing Division.
(Left to right) Asst Prof Charlene Chen, Mr Kenneth Choo, Ms Foo Siew Ting, and Mr Stanley Toh during the dialogue
Moderated by Asst Prof Charlene Chen from the NBS Marketing Division, the stimulating session shed light on the challenges brought about by changes in the macro-economic environment, big data, digitalisation, as well as issues relating to sustainability.
The panellists also shared anecdotes on how brands should evolve to remain relevant and how marketers can equip themselves to be future ready.
Rising to the Challenge of Change
Sharing first-hand information on the challenges faced by HP, Ms Foo noted that consumer needs have become more complex.
“For instance, while our laptops were flying off the shelves due to more people working from home during the pandemic, our printer sales were affected in office but quickly shifted into in-home usage with more working from home and home schooling. Consumer expectations of brands have changed. Brands now need to be purposeful, authentic, and committed to sustainability and environmental protection. At HP, we have to understand these changes and adapt the way we sell our products,” she explained.
Adding to the topic, Mr Choo spoke passionately about how Heineken has evolved over the years and showcased the brand's ‘0.0%’ alcohol-free label as an example: “This is a classic case of maintaining brand relevance by thinking out of the box. We have gone one step further by creating a new product that our consumers didn't know they needed. It’s a result of understanding that consumers want to be connected to others and be part of the party without feeling the buzz from consuming alcohol.”
Constantly Learning, Always Evolving
Diving right into the theme of the dialogue, the panellists elaborated on some practical steps that marketers can take to be future ready.
“It is a constant learning process to keep up with emerging technology and new ways to engage customers. Future-ready marketers must have the intuition to spot changes as well as new trends in the market. This often requires a large amount of research and data crunching to decipher the latest consumer needs and wants,” said Mr Toh, who is part of Cycle & Carriage Singapore’s leadership team responsible for driving customer-centric experiences, service delivery, and digital transformation.
He also pointed out the importance of being agile while sticking to the fundamental purpose of your business. “We must continue to focus on the customer. Within the automobile industry, electric vehicles, car sharing, and car leasing are gaining traction. Consumers are becoming passionate about ESG issues, and we need to adapt to these changes. We had to pivot our products and services accordingly and it is no longer just about selling automobiles.”
“Consumers now expect brands to take a stand and act on the beliefs that the brands personify. Future-ready marketers must know the voice of consumers and in the process understand their aspirations. In other words, brands must evolve to meet changing expectations,” added Mr Choo.
Echoing the sentiments of her panellists, Ms Foo said “consumers will no longer tolerate lip service and demand action. Hence, we need to dig deep, go back to the basics to examine who the customers are, and understand what they want.”
This NBS Alumni Leaders dialogue series is an ongoing initiative that provides thought leadership on cutting-edge business knowledge and technologies as shared by top business leaders.
To find out more about events organised by NBS, please visit our website.