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Singapore, 20.10.2020

Branding and Marketing in the New Abnormal in Asia

COVID-19 has not only disrupted businesses globally but also shed light on future-readiness of brands and marketers to drive growth. According to GfK’s commissioned survey “Branding and Marketing in the New Abnormal", only 30% brands consider themselves as a ‘game changer’ or ‘champion’ in employing data-driven decision making.

“The survey findings portray a clear gap between their business goals and the tools they leverage to achieve them. In a post pandemic environment, it is vital for brands to quickly realign objectives, measure effectiveness and lead through digital transformation.” said Karthik Venkatakrishnan, Regional Leader, Marketing and Consumer Intelligence, GfK.


Reduced budgets, shifting KPIs & priorities

Inevitably, COVID-19 has presented marketers with challenges such as reduced budgets, evolving marketing mix, changing priorities and measuring marketing ROI. Since the pandemic outbreak, 73% have reduced their marketing budgets. Of the 61% indicating a shift in KPIs and how they measure it:

  • 56% said digital transformation is increasingly seen as an important KPI to achieve their goals
  • 53% agreed there is more focus on driving short term sales
  • 37% said there is a shift towards maximizing ROI

In terms of new priorities among those surveyed, 56% said it is maximizing marketing ROI, followed by 1 in 2 saying it is driving sales, and finally, 40% indicating that it is brand positioning.


Doing ‘more’ with ‘less’ is the new abnormal

Half of the brands across Asia-Pacific are driving short-term marketing activities to seize opportunities while keeping long-term brand-building campaigns live. “This is largely because the pandemic has impacted consumer behavior and their path-to-purchase resulting in a massive shift to e-commerce and altering media consumption habits. With this dynamic situation, brands are trying to deliver next level of omnichannel experience that consumers are demanding.” explains Karthik Venkatakrishnan.

As per GfK study, 4 in 5 consumers said their decision to purchase a brand in future is largely dependent on how brands position themselves during this difficult period.

Therefore, in order to reach the target audience effectively, 60% of marketers across nearly all industries in Asia-Pacific have allocated their budgets for social media marketing while 58% used their budgets for mobile advertising and paid search. In a post-pandemic environment, digital is definitely the way forward for brands in the new abnormal.

Across countries, 62% of marketers in Singapore invested more towards public relations, while more funds were allocated for influencer marketing in Thailand and Indonesia. In China, Hong Kong and Malaysia, there was a shift toward live activation due to the drop in COVID cases. In India, 78% of marketers have shifted budget towards social media, which is much higher than other countries in the region.


Measuring marketing ROI: Success mantra of ‘game-changers’

In the digital transformation era, 1 in 2 measure all their marketing activities but are using basic metrics such as last click attribution (58%), media reach and frequency (57%), shares (51%), likes (49%) and comments (47%).

Nearly 4 of 10 surveyed indicated brand positioning as one of their priorities. Interestingly, 72% within this group currently do not track brand performance. Likewise, 28% said the allocation of marketing budgets is a key concern post-pandemic, a whopping 83% do not use any form of data-driven marketing measurement to drive business growth.

Building a winning & agile brand

Based on the survey, nearly half surveyed are optimistic of recovery in the next 6 - 12 months. Brands and Marketers across countries intend to understand and engage their audiences effectively:

  • 61% are looking to gain more knowledge on various consumer engagement channels
  • 59% are aiming to have better understanding of consumer behavioral changes and preferences
  • 43% are also planning to explore opportunities to reposition brand values.


The survey findings reveal that brands and marketers need to have an agile mindset and employ data-driven approach to evolve with fast-changing times.

About the Survey

The survey targeted 144 marketers in 13 countries in Asia Pacific across several industries. The findings are based on a GfK commissioned survey with Campaign Asia, titled ‘Branding and Marketing in the New Abnormal’, aimed at assessing how marketing priorities in the region are shifting and will continue to evolve due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Click here to learn more about the Branding and Marketing in the New Abnormal study.



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