Rethinking APAC's Customer Engagement Strategy Post-Covid Using First Party Data (1/3) - Ekimetrics
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Rethinking APAC’s Customer Engagement Strategy Post-Covid Using First Party Data (1/3)

Rethinking APAC’s Customer Engagement Strategy Post-Covid Using First Party Data (1/3)

In this first article in a series looking at customer data strategy in APAC, we explore how brands need to adapt and re-define their customer engagement strategy in the post-COVID era.

Author : Damien Appirou, Zoe Cheng, Will Ferrell, Yash Kukadia, Olivier Kuziner, Celine Wong

Date : 14 September, 2023

Time to re-define your customer engagement strategy in the post-COVID new normal

“Our job is to figure out what the customers are going to want before they do.” – These insightful words spoken by Steve Jobs resonate deeply in a world of constant changes, especially in the past few years where consumers behaviours have undergone a seismic shift during COVID, and now with another shift in the post COVID era. The engagement strategy brands defined before or during COVID will soon become less relevant if they fail to predict what the customers want in this post COVID era.

The COVID pandemic and its associated restrictions have significantly impacted human’s life and behaviour. However, with the gradual recovery and COVID restrictions lifting in Greater China in early 2023, a unique opportunity has emerged for brands in the APAC (Asia Pacific) region to expand their market share. To be competitive in the “new normal,” brands must reassess their engagement strategy. APAC customers have made a fundamental shift to digital channels, while still valuing personalized experiences offered by the brick-and-mortar experiences post-COVID.

Under these circumstances, brands must go beyond the traditional rule-based customer segmentation approach to win over shoppers. They must shift their focus to understanding the intricacies of customer preferences, from their preferred touchpoints to their unique tastes. By taking a comprehensive approach to customer analysis, brands can gain valuable insights to tailor engagement strategies and unlock the key to consistent growth. For instance, some customers might prefer to engage with brands through digital touchpoints while other might value personalized in-store experiences. It is important to note that product preferences and engagement touchpoints can vary significantly depending on factors such as age, lifestyle, and cultural background. by staying attune to these intricacies, brands can develop targeted campaigns and foster long-term relationships with their customers.

In this article, we will share key insights derived from client studies on shifting customer behaviours over the past 3 years, while also predicting the upcoming key trends. We will also explore how brands can harness the potential of data analytics by constructing informative customer profiles which are unique, enabling them to shape their CRM (Customer Relationship Management) strategy through valuable personalized insights.

COVID accelerates paradigm shift to digital, but human connection remains important

The digital economy in APAC experienced a significant surge since 2020. With COVID lockdowns around the world, a growing number of people turned to digital services for the first time, resulting in 40 million new online users in SEA (Southeast Asia) alone—an annual average that doubled in comparison to the previous five years. As brands adapted to the “new normal,” many sought to connect with customers through social media, video content, and live streaming. An example is the global luxury brand Louis Vuitton on China – to deal with the city lockdown around the Valentine’s Day, the brand launched an online pop-up store within the WeChat app, with live chat for pre-sale consultations and promotions shared via store associates online. By prioritizing local options, convenient locations, and quicker delivery times, many brands pivoted to provide customers with a more comprehensive online experience to meet their evolving expectations.

At Ekimetrics, we have observed a notable increase in the proportion of APAC media investment directed towards digital channels across industries. According to our recent whitepaper Marketing Strategies: Navigating the New Normal, paid media in APAC experienced a 57% surge during the COVID recovery period, particularly in online paid media channels. APAC Retailers increased investment to online media from 31% during pre-COVID, to 46% after COVID. Industries that have traditionally been known for strictly regulated, such as insurance and financial services, are now embracing digital advertising strategies. Many FSI brands are allocating more than 50% of their annual media spend to digital channels, marking a significant shift in their marketing approaches. Additionally, the surge in livestreaming and influencer marketing indicates the enduring presence of the new digital landscape, cementing it as a fundamental element for marketing strategies in the future.

After a prolonged period of reliance on digital channels during COVID, customers are now returning to in-person experiences with renewed enthusiasm. During the post-pandemic period, physical stores like shopping malls are witnessing a resurgence, especially for the human connection aspect of the shopping experience. This shift is reflected in payment data released by Mastercard2, which shows that while online retail sales increased just 2.2% YoY in May 2022, in-store sales grew an impressive 13.4%.

To meet the ever-evolving and demanding expectations of customers, brands must merge the convenience and accessibility of digital that have resulted from the pandemic with immersive and impactful in-person experiences customers have been missing. It is critical for brands to take an omnichannel approach to understanding, engaging, and interacting with customers.

Brands that integrate an omnichannel experience will stand out in the “new normal”

With online activities becoming increasingly important in the long-term, companies that can effectively integrate in-person experiences with digital ones will have a significant advantage. Achieving a seamless user experience that prioritizes the customer requires a consistent presence across both online and offline marketing channels.

A growing number of brands are providing online customers with personalized experiences at a higher level – for example, allowing Very Important Customers (VICs) to book appointments online with experts such as Sales Advisors while browsing through the product catalogue. This approach not only facilitates convenient access via online channels but also preserves personalized interactions in store, promoting a well-rounded shopping experience.

Additionally, the return of in-person events has opened new avenues for immersive experiential marketing through channels like event sponsorships, interactive installations, and product demonstrations for customers to be a part of a community through shared experiences. Brands will look to leverage their store network to ride this trend while they use a variety of in-person marketing strategies to strengthen brand awareness through pop-ups, giveaways, and influencer meet-ups.

Takeaway: Adapt your customer engagement strategy with an omnichannel view to expand your market share

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought significant shifts to customer behaviours, necessitating a fundamental change in how brands engage with their clientele. Every brand is aware of this imperative for change, and to thrive, the speed to adapt to the latest changes is essential to outpace competitors to seize a greater market share.

The swift adaptation cannot be possible without the support from data and technology. In the next article, we will share with you a case study on how brands can leverage first party data to formulate a comprehensive understanding to their customer persona and define a suitable engagement strategy.

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