Thursday, 9 January 2014 00:00
Brand Finance Lanka Managing Director Ruchi Gunewardene outlines the changing role of marketers
Marketing’s business challenge
Achieving success in hyper competitive markets is elusive. Whilst some companies have achieved leadership in single markets (Brandix, MAS, Lion Beer), others have done so in diverse sectors (John Keells, Unilever). Many others are competing head to head (Coca-Cola vs. Elephant House and Singer vs. LG) whilst many more are challenging for that leadership (Etisalat, Maliban, Sudantha).
Marketing is a key driver of business success, but for too long it has not achieved the central management focus in many companies that it deserves, to continue to drive growth, profitability and value creation.
It is the responsibility of marketers to take the initiative to demonstrate that leadership. Doing so will require pressing the ‘re-set’ button and relooking at the marketing process through a different set of lenses.
As customer expectations grow, competition intensifies and social and environmental issues become more important, with new technologies enabling new possibilities, marketing must take the leadership to think bigger, better and differently.
The marketing opportunity
A company’s future success will be driven by new and smarter approaches to the way they do business. These include initiatives on several fronts:
Building bolder brands: making more of the existing brands, particularly given the importance of licensed and partnership brands.
Focusing on the best opportunities: driving profitable growth in new categories, and new geographies.
Delivering faster innovation: unlocking the creative potential of products, people, and building innovation centres.
Engaging customers more deeply: harnessing new approaches such as co-creation, social media and sustainability to do more.
When looked at in this larger context, marketing is much more than operational delivery, or about communication. It anticipates change and moves ahead of consumer expectations, delivering the unexpected, by having a strong influence within the leadership and key decision making points.
Thus, for marketers to step up their game they need to see their customers in a different light, even drawing on international examples of successes and locally adapting them. This inspired approach needs to be infected within the organisation, driving the business forward and making an impact.
For too long marketers have been stuck on the famous 5 P’s of marketing, which has limited their ability to influence organisations and as a result they have been side-lined in the key decision making processes.
They have to venture out to see the new opportunities in dramatically changing environments in order to take the initiative to shaping the future of their markets.
We live in the most incredible times
These are days of exponential change. We are now in the middle of a decade when the global population is growing faster than it ever has or will, when technology fuels unimaginable possibilities. From 3D printed organs to driverless cars. We see power shifting from west to east, north to south, business to stakeholder and from a privileged few to the aspiring many.
The question for marketers is, are you riding these waves of change … or hanging onto past conventions and practices?
Between 2010 and 2020, the world’s population will grow from 6.9 to 7.7 billion people, mostly in megacities of the fast-developing world. Most significant for marketers will be the rise of a huge ‘new middle’ consumer class, neither rich nor poor, driving global GDP from $ 53 to $ 90 trillion. But this growth, of which we are now in the midst, is not a linear extrapolation of the old world. It is a fantastic ‘kaleidoscope’ of changing markets, new customers and priorities, new capabilities and aspirations; a tectonic mash up.
And Sri Lanka is not immune to this turmoil either as we emerge as an upper middle income country.
Leading the change holistically
Marketing is changing, enabling and responding to all these dramatic shifts. What is most exciting for marketers is that they should be the agents of that change. Because, marketers should understand the outside world better than anyone else, and therefore the people best able to see the future, and to engage the whole business in making it happen.
It’s therefore time for marketers to harness the power of brands to make the world a better place, applying insight and imagination to create better ideas, embracing networks to reach new audiences with new partners, aligning the organisation internally, and becoming the driving force of disruptive innovation and accelerating growth.
Doing so requires a mindset shift and a resolve to wresting back the inventive spirit into marketing.
This is the essence of ‘Winning in Changing Markets’ which is a four-day Masterclass that will be run by Brand Finance in May 2014. For more information e-mail [email protected].