Event Spotlight


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Name a business that has sustained success without leveraging a real insight into the way people think or act or consume? Now name a business that continues to succeed without any innovation? “We do nothing new and have no idea what makes a difference” is not the claim of marketers who succeed. With change being the only constant and technology sweeping the ground beneath our feet every now and then, marketers are bestowed responsibility to drive innovation when it comes to attract new target group and sustain the loyal customer base.

Considering all these and more, it was wonderful for me to be able to chair a conference that focused totally on EXCHANGE of the newest ideas and trends to generate INSIGHT and propel INNOVATION. That was the intent of IIeX Asia Pacific 2018, held in Bangkok on 28-29 November. The latest installment of annual event had nearly 400 attendees from all over Asia listening to two dozen speakers talking about innovations like artificial intelligence, blockchain technology, the latest use of mobile and smartphone capabilities to innovate and gain new insight for better marketing. Fortunately, over 20 of the attendees were from Bangladesh. Our group, Marketing Futures, organized a block of enthusiastic marketers from companies like Mutual Trust Bank Ltd., Square Group, Ispahani and others to attend and gain new learning into the trends, which would be driving market research and how to be more innovative in the overall marketing endeavors. Below is a list of few key insights I would like to share with our readers:

Be people-centered
Adrian Terron, the head of customer centricity projects for TATA group made the point clear in an early keynote address. You can build all kinds of innovation and new products and services but the winners are those that focus on what real people want and how to help them and their communities attain whatever they want from life.

“Thank you, Dave and Faiyaz and the Marketing Futures crew, for organizing the IIeX Asia Pacific 2018 with so much perfection. Knowledgeable speakers, relevant content and good times.”
–  Samia Chowdhury, Senior Assistant Vice President, MTB Communications Department, Mutual Trust Bank

Exploring the way people react
Sometimes great insight only doesn’t suffice to usher in new innovation; one can do so by using old techniques in new ways and markets. Aung Thura from Myanmar shared great examples of using photographs instead of words to get reactions from potential consumers in research. In markets where people are not used to writing or even answering detailed questionnaires and where visual mediums like Facebook are increasingly becoming the most common way people communicate; the use of photos can help understand how people can communicate feelings, attitudes, and answers to question. His session initiated a lot of corridor conversations about the increasing role of photos/pictures/emoji as the primary form of literacy for many and the need to adjust communications and marketing to meet this reality.

“A great session; got to meet a good number of passionate marketers and researchers.”
–  Saimum Jahan Nishita- Sr. Brand Manager Square Foods and Beverages Limited

Craig Griffin shared research for pharmaceutical company Sanofi in China which focused on how to communicate with doctors. What was really interesting was the reminder that findings reminded us of what should be obvious: doctors are really just people. And they use and prefer the mediums that other people use as well. Want to reach doctors? Think about using social media to get their interest and remind them of what they should know.

The shopper experience is more interactive
There was a lot of sessions focused on the dynamic change happening in retail experience and the way we now have more tools than ever to understand how people shop.

The concept of real-time customer focus came up again and again as speakers like Grant Bertoli of Marketbuzzz highlighted how the use of ubiquitous smartphones means that taking photos as part of live feedback on retail or other experiences is increasingly a must for good research. Don’t just ask people what they think or experiences; get them to photograph the experience and report it live. Or make use of all those taps of keys. Greg Lipper of Happi in Singapore has developed a simple app based model that rewards shoppers for sharing information throughout their experience and get reward points for doing so. And in a “Happi” twist all those points can be assigned to your favorite charity, public cause, etc. So research and better understanding that can lead to real insight now also become an innovative means of helping those causes people care about.

“IIEX 2018 APAC brought by Marketing Futures was a great experience for new marketers from Bangladesh as we got to learn how other markets in APAC is applying digital medium and insights for their brands and products, altogether it was great learning for Ispahani Team.”
–  Subrata Deb, Sr Brand Executive – Ispahani Tea Limited

One of Asia’s leading shopping consultants, Mike Anthony of ENGAGE, focused on the simple message that all the new technologies need to be focused on a few simple things like understanding the interaction of on and offline experience. Too often retailers and brands at retail are not providing inter-connecting messaging, equal aesthetic appeal, parallel reactions to potential consumer interest and behavior.

Understand whom you are dealing with
Much of the content was focused on better understanding potential consumers and customers. My co-chairperson, Priscilla McKinney, came from the USA conducted great sessions and workshops on user persona profiling for better understand individual business partners, investors, and customers. Deeper approaches to understanding what drives their behavior and real insight into how to develop more rewarding relationships are extremely important for marketers of tomorrow.

“I learned how insight is helpful in context to social/cultural aspect to develop the design and creative piece, IIEX Apac 2018 brought to us by Marketing Futures had great speakers who carried vast experience in their respective areas, the sessions were very inspiring.”
–  Kawser Mahmud, CEO Karuj Communications.

Dangjaithawin Anantachi from Intage provided a wonderful session re-looking at the need to understand how what we do as professionals and companies are doing to really understand and contribute to social understanding. A great reminder that companies that succeed and people who are happy in their work have a common trait: a sense that they are doing something that is helping people.

“The Nestle case study was interesting and relevant for us.”
–  Head of Marketing Square Toiletries Limited

Fortunately the delegation from Bangladesh all seem to feel that attending IIeX Asia gave them valuable new ideas. And perhaps, more importantly, they agree that attending and understanding what is happening in markets across the region provides real value in finding growth for their own business. Thanks then to Marketing Futures partners like ICE Business Times, Digital Express, Karuj Communications for their support in putting together the opportunity to share the learning with interested companies.

Now let’s make sure that all future thinking marketers continue to learn and share best practice.

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