Technology-based marketing will be the main trend in Vietnam in 2015.
Dr. Nguyen Trung Thang, Chairman of the Masso Group
The success of the “Share a Coke” campaign (with printed names appearing on bottles) in Vietnam last year reflected the personalization and social media marketing trends predicted a year ago. These marketing trends will continue in the future with the support of growth in technology applications. The recent popularity of the Uber business model, which operates on a technology platform to compete directly with the traditional taxi industry, also indicates a technology-based marketing boom. We have witnessed tremendous changes in marketing tools and activities over the last few years, and further changes will definitely occur in the years to come. However, the basic marketing principle of customer satisfaction remains unchanged, regardless of how significant these transformations may be. The issue is therefore how to make customers satisfied in the rapidly changing context of today’s digital environment. Having observed Vietnam’s marketing environment over recent years I predict the following marketing trends for 2015.
Trend 1: Smartphones to change business models
The high penetration of smartphones, which account for 52 per cent of all mobile phones in Vietnam, has created a range of opportunities for as well as challenges to traditional business models. Uber is challenging traditional taxis not only because of its cost advantage but also because it meets the needs of individual consumers better. GrabTaxi, a similar business model to Uber, recently introduced GrabBike, to connect motorbike taxis (xe om) with passengers by use of a smart phone application. Grabbike receives a 20 per cent commission on turnover for each successful connection. The smartphone based business model will not only help customers find a xe om more easily but will also open up business opportunities for 40 million motorbike riders who hope to make some extra money after work or in their free time.
Nearly all consumer needs can now be met by smartphones. Mobile applications can solve the key challenge for today’s consumer: time and convenience. Smartphones have become the most preferable touch point for individual consumers, and brands must adapt. The main task of marketers is to satisfy target customers in a profitable manner, so brands must become involved in mobile marketing. The challenge for future marketing efforts could be competition among mobile marketing practitioners. The Vietnamese consumer is open to technology, particularly young consumers, who account for the majority of the population. Brands are therefore required to think about how to adopt mobile marketing/applications to change the means of customer interaction/transaction, particularly when issues of credit card payment security and legal framework will soon be addressed.
Trend 2: The rise of video marketing
Recent research conducted by Publics noted that the size of online TV audiences now outstrip traditional TV audiences. The average time spent on online TV is almost double for traditional TV! The younger population, supported by the high penetration of digital devices and 3G and 4G networks, has nurtured the rise of online videos and TV. The emerging trend of video marketing, which is not new, is predicted to be phenomenal in upcoming years. Video marketing has been the main tool in recent integrated marketing communication campaigns (IMC) by large brands in Vietnam. In the recent case of the Singapore Tourism Board (STB), for example, a series of video clips/episodes were the central tool in the communication mix, instead of TV commercials (TVC), as per traditional advertising. The advantages of video clips over TVC are clearly recognized by marketers. Storyboards and messages are much better presented in long-form episodes, which can be much longer than a traditional 30-second TVC. And the video clips can easily become viral through social media platforms like Facebook, Youtube, and Zing. Its availability in companies’ own media and online media can also maximize the view time and increase the return on investment. Importantly, video marketing is much more effective than traditional TVCs regarding cost, which is the main constraint on Vietnamese firms. The rise of video marketing will therefore make a big impact this year.
Trend 3: KOLs are kings!
In the context of information overload, just a little of all the content out there is accessed, shared and made viral. The question is how to make your story become dominant in the internet world? Vietnamese online users are quite emotional and easily influenced by opinion leaders. In this regard, a brand story or communication message, if delivered by key opinion leaders (KOLs), will definitely reach more online consumers. Big brands have been exploiting this social insight to create their competitive advantage in online media. A quick search can easily find IT/technology brands utilizing KOLs, such as Cu Hiep in the IT industry and JEvermind V-loger for many teen brands. KOLs and digital influencers can help brands the reach fans of the KOLs and the online community quickly. The issues here are how to control the risk associated with KOLs (personal scandals for example) and the cost. Nonetheless, it is expected that KOLs marketing will be used extensively by brands this year.
Trend 4: Internal branding
It is observed that companies are shifting their branding efforts more towards internal branding. The effectiveness of internal branding is clearly measured by staff’s positive attitude and loyalty, which are always appreciated by the senior management of any company. In a conversation with the CEO of a large steel company during my consultancy work regarding human resources investment, the CEO quickly supported its internal branding program while wondering how exactly to invest in other advertising items. Traditionally, internal branding is usually tasked to the human resources department, but this responsibility is now shifting to the corporate brand team. Internal branding implementation requires both science and art, where the corporate brand/marketing team can utilize their communication expertise much more effectively than the HR department.