In the digital age, old certainties are always under question. Brand marketing is a perfect example. The days when great advertising was enough are long gone, and it’s no longer adequate to creatively communicate a brand proposition. Rather, brands today must take every opportunity to seamlessly bring to together strategy and creativity with scalable technology to build meaningful experiences that create new consumer and business value. Now, more than ever, data is the critical force that will propel the creation of transformative experiences and innovative products and services.

Accenture Interactive has pioneered a new approach that brings together data science, creativity and innovation to build new customer-centric marketing propositions. It’s an approach that’s seen us win recognition as one of the world’s top five most innovative advertising companies by Fast Company, in part due to the use of advanced AI applications for marketing.

We’re continually looking at ways to bring our experience and expertise to China, one of the most dynamic and promising markets on the globe, through investment in acquisitions such as the digital agency, HO Communication. Today, however, we celebrate one of our most important moves yet: teaming up with Alibaba, arguably China’s biggest global brand, to help brands in China leverage the opportunities of "New" marketing to redefine their relationships with customers.

The opportunities of data-driven marketing…

Locally in China, we’re seeing much lively debate around what successful marketing in the "New" looks like. As part of a joint opportunity with Alibaba Group, we decided to uncover some key tips for marketers to allow us to continue to support the diverse marketing community in the best way possible. We spoke to a number of marketing leaders from organizations including Nike China, Vivo and the China Europe International Business School to get insights into what brand building really means for China’s businesses in this age of data.

What became clear in these conversations is that Chinese businesses are positive about the power of digital marketing to innovate and drive growth—both core and incremental. Advanced data analytics, for example, is providing marketers with insights into real behaviors and real needs, and in the process helping to generate new demand while improving end services. Analytics is also helping brands find out more about themselves and their values; providing a mechanism through which they can discover brand purpose and thereby become more relevant to their customers.

Beyond insights, our leaders identified the importance of data in enabling more compelling customer experiences as another key benefit of marketing transformation. New digital tools turn every customer touchpoint—physical or digital—into a single, connected and personalized marketing platform. This is a completely new approach not just to marketing, but to business itself—one where the brand becomes an indispensable part of individual customers’ lives.

…and the challenges

Marketing transformation is not without its challenges. The experts we spoke to, for instance, noted that the growth of market demand in the data age is slowing and the market is becoming saturated. Brands must therefore do more to inspire customers to share that all-important data. Meanwhile, the fragmentation of the media means that brands’ resources must be spread more thinly or the cost of marketing must increase; neither of which is an ideal solution for the business.

The Uni-marketing Playbook

This Playbook brings together thought leadership from across Alibaba and Accenture Interactive with one simple aim: to help demonstrate how Chinese brands can make the most of the opportunities available through data-driven marketing transformation, while overcoming any associated challenges.

The Playbook is split into seven themes; those we believe to be the most pertinent to the Chinese market. These themes are:

  • The power of big data – How the effective analysis of data at scale can help brands identify new experiences, services, products, categories and even markets.
  • The value of customer insights – How successful brands are shifting to a customer-centric marketing operation.
  • Embracing customer-experiences – How data will make more personalized and relevant brand experiences that will better meet the expectations of customers.
  • Digitalization across all channels – How omnichannel digitalization provides a clearer, more unified view of the brand to consumers.
  • Measurement in the digital age – How a customer-centric measurement system is required for the digital age.
  • The future of brand building – How breaking down business silos, enriching team skills and introducing data talent will create a marketing organization for the future.
  • Partnering for success – How brands can build ecosystems of marketing service providers to drive breakthrough success.

The insights and perspectives provided in this Playbook offer strategies and tips that will guide Chinese brands on their digital marketing transformation journeys.

New marketing, same ends

For me, the key insight that repeats throughout the Playbook is around the importance of listening. Data-driven, digital tools already allow us to reach customers in entirely new ways. And as emerging technologies take route, particularly AI, this ability will only increase.

I believe that in the post-digital age, the most successful companies will be those that continuously innovate, evolve and transform by finding new ways to understand what their customers really want. The availability of actionable data increases confidence that brands can go beyond just distinctively connected experiences, and move towards ones that are meaningful and indispensable. Ultimately, while digital marketing will transform business, reshape the marketing profession and create new relationships with customers, it all comes down to the same old marketing fundamental: to give consumers value in new and exciting ways.

This is why the partnership between Accenture Interactive and Alibaba is so thrilling. The combination of Alibaba’s vast data resources, technological prowess and understanding of China’s consumers, and Accenture Interactive’s industry-leading approach to creating the best experiences on the planet, will create something completely unique in the Chinese market. Together we have what it takes to reshape brands in China and innovate new ways to engage with their consumers. I, for one, can’t wait for the journey to start.

Jason Chau

Lead Accenture Interactive, Asia and Lead – Digital Marketplace Services, Accenture Interactive, Growth Markets

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