INSEAD Professor Amitava Chattopadhyay
Look closely at the top 100 Global Brands, according to Interbrand and BusinessWeek,
and you’ll see many European and North American favorites that have
given great products or services over many years. What you won’t see on
that list are many Asian firms, apart from some notable companies in
Japan and South Korea.
Why, in a burgeoning region that’s brand-crazy, have very few homegrown
favorites earned world-class recognition? What will it take for Asian
companies to rise to the level of global superstar?
Ranking of Asian Brands in Best Global Brands Ranking 2006
Country of Origin
Brand Value 2006 (US$ mln)
‘The Challenges of Building Global Asian Brands’ panel at the INSEAD
Leadership Summit in Asia offered some insights into these and other
questions, with the focus being on regional companies traditionally
focused on trading, operations and technology, rather than marketing.
The panel agreed that the chief marketing officer must be just as
involved in the company as the CEO and other leaders in the 'C-Suite';
and that a strategic view of marketing within most Asian companies is
Martin Roll, VentureRepublic
Panellist Martin Roll (MBA ‘99D), CEO of VentureRepublic and author of Asian Brands Strategy,
says branding in Asia is no longer a luxury; it’s a necessity. ”Most
Asian business executives think that a brand is just an appendix, just
a strategy that is a logo, that is a corporate ID,” he stresses, adding
that this needs to change because low cost today is a level playing
Roll says that for Asian brands to go global, three things must happen.
First, Asian executives must instil a global mindset within their
companies. It’s not just about a new logo and printing new business
cards, he notes. Secondly, Roll says a chief marketing officer (CMO)
should replace some of the engineers and financiers in the boardroom.
Finally, he believes that Asian companies need to look within. “So you
really have to ask yourself very hard,” says Roll, “If I am going to
create another sports shoe brand or an IT brand or a hospitality brand,
what makes that truly different in a very, very over-communicative
L’Oreal Chaired Professor of Marketing (Innovation and Creativity) at INSEAD, Amitava Chattopadhyay,
says there are historic reasons as to why Asia has looked to western
brands. “Consumers, by and large, have been in the West because Asia,
leave aside Japan, has not really had a flourishing economy with a
large number of people in the middle class who are able to buy brands.
And the people that did buy brands, the top of the pyramid if you will,
they were highly westernised, often-Western educated and valued Western
things,” says Chattopadhyay. At the same time, he agrees with Roll that
Asian companies have focused on operations, technology and
manufacturing, with not enough attention being paid to marketing.
Chattopadhyay notes that economic changes in the region over the past
twenty years have led to a larger consumer class for the first time,
creating a historic opportunity for local and regional brands to
expand. In order for that to happen, companies need to understand and
develop their brands and then articulate this within the company and to
consumers. He says that he has acted as a consultant to company
executives who have had to ask their marketing departments what the
brand stands for. So if the company’s leadership and “foot soldiers”
don’t understand what the company’s branding is, there’s little chance
that consumers will have a clear idea.
Gyehyun Kwon, Samsung
Another panellist, Samsung’s Head of Global Communication, Gyehyun Kwon,
emphasizes the importance of Asian regional economic growth that could
annually hit eight per cent, as compared to three per cent in the US
and Europe. “We believe this Asian region is really the powerhouse to
drive the world economy. So, in a way, we have some of our global
headquarters in Asia, especially Korea. We have a relative advantage
because of the location and we understand the Asian economy quite
well,” he says.
notes that Samsung took a huge risk by developing new products during
the 1997 Asian financial crisis. It also established its global brand
by sponsoring the Olympics at a time when the company was almost broke.
But that gamble paid off and gave the company an international
marketing push and brand presence.
though has an unusual take on brand and brand value. “You know, I would
like to share Samsung’s notion about the brand,” said Kwon. “We believe
the brand itself is not important. What is really an essential factor:
compositions of a brand value and we believe the first one is
technology value because we are a manufacturing company. The second is
the product value. The third is marketing value and the fourth one is
reputation value,” he concluded.
Rajesh Hukku, i-flex solutions
The process of building a global brand has three stages, says Rajesh Hukku,
chairman of i-flex solutions of India. Get people around the world to
become customers of the brand; show them that the quality and
reliability is better than competition; and create the success story
over and over by building solid company leadership that understands the
brand and how to communicate it.
Hukku’s company grew out of the Y2K scare, during
companies from abroad outsourced their software concerns and projects
to India. He believes his success came as a result of mastering the
what about building brands for business-to-business sales? An umbrella
brand may work well, but “the brand has to become reference,” says
Hukku. “(It’s) important to say that XYZ Company uses it; a reference,
of who your customer is, is important. Benchmarks are also very
important, but you have different messaging that still needs to get
out, in the business-to-business markets.”
When asked what advice he would give to Chinese manufacturers on branding,
he says: “10-20 years ago it was based more on loyalty. I think our
children and grandchildren will change (that). It’ll be more about the
quality and the brand experience, not whether or not Tiger Woods wears
(the products),” he adds.