Owning the Branded Future: How to Win in Asia Through 2020


As the global economy pivots Eastward, how can brands reinvent and adapt themselves to win in Asia in the long-term? Steve McGinnes, Managing Director, Branding & Design APAC spoke to an audience consisting of brand and printing professionals at Dscoop Asia 2016 in Singapore.

People around the world are very different from one another. Whilst there are underlying universal truths, hidden beneath are layers of beliefs, preferences, experiences and opinions. Many of these differences are deeply entrenched in geography, culture and socialization. The reality is that people are not wired to think or behave in the same way. Brands that succeed understand this concept of “group think” and strategize every move in order to engage the consumer through different ways. The popular “Share a Coke” campaign is a great success story, creating 800 million personalized Coca-Cola labels globally.

Giving the example of Bagpiper Whisky in India, the world’s largest by volume. What the brand did was to eradicate all internal assumptions that others assumed: that whisky belonged in a bottle. What they did instead was to sell whisky in a milk carton. Bagpiper was hence able to halve the price of production. Take the brand Gerber as well. Nestle understood that new-age consumers questioned everything on the box, including nutritional labels. What could they do to possibly get past these discerning consumers? They eventually included an innocent looking baby on the front of the packaging and largely decreased the likelihood of questioning regarding the product as a whole.

With 200 billion connected “things” by 2020 and 26 smart objects for every human (United Nations, 2015), purchase decisions in the retail store are now facing a dramatic shift. Smartphone users now consult on their phones prior to purchase, changing the way they shop and think in-store. Furthermore, consumers want more information on nutritional labels and ingredients, with countries such as Australia leading the move in its Country of Origin Labelling (CoOL) legislation. In the world of the internet of things, the “pack” is crucial to a brand’s success. In order to stay relevant and create the impact for purchase, brands not only have to understand cultural insights and localize, but also engage with the modern consumer through the “pack”.

About Steve McGinnes: Steve McGinnes leads SGKs branding and design offer (Anthem and BrandImage) across APAC. An industry veteran, Steve has led projects for LVMH, Unilever, Diageo, Danone, Coca Cola and ABInbev, across Europe, America, SEA, China and India. He is a regular guest on BBC World News on branding and design related news topics. Steve originally came to Singapore for 3 days in 2006 to help on a pitch – and has been in Asia ever since.