Telum Vox Pop: What is the future of brand comms in the Greater Bay Area?

Telum Vox Pop: What is the future of brand comms in the Greater Bay Area?

In 2021, Douyin recorded 710 million daily active users while Xiaohongshu had 300 million registered. But traditional media remains a key tool in any brand strategy, and the interplay between the two will define any comms campaign. We spoke to experts in Guangzhou, Hong Kong and Shenzhen to explore the future of brand comms in the Greater Bay Area (GBA) market. 

Bastian Wong, CEO & Managing Director, Flare Communications, Hong Kong
Traditional media and new media (mainly referred to as digital media) are not mutually exclusive. Rather, I'd like to see that as an effective way to help brands to expand audience outreach, leverage each other's strengths and provide more choices and convenience for their readers.

When we look at the GBA, with the similarity of language, lifestyle, culture and accessibility, I'd foresee social media platforms like Xiaohongshu would serve as a bridge to capture similar topics of interest across Hong Kong and other GBA cities, providing an accessible common ground for brands to connect a broader audience across the region.

Digital media channels like this enable more interactive and time-limitless communications between brands and audiences. As we are seeing more diverse yet interrelated demographics across the GBA, it's worth noting the significance social media channels have in brand comms and audience interaction, allowing brands to hear instant audience feedback, share the latest product launches and react to market needs more timely and effectively. That’s clearly an advantage for brands in setting up their new venture in the new GBA region.

As established global brands from watches and jewellery, high-end fashion and luxury lifestyle category also begin to set their footprints in the GBA, we are seeing an established role for traditional media in communicating and displaying a brand image, taking its advantage to reach a massive audience through TV, OOH, print newspapers and magazines. Traditional media remains a unique role in creating massive top-of-mind awareness for new brand launches and new market entries.

Jocelyn Ji, Vice President, Ogilvy, Shenzhen
Traditional media is still regarded as an essential channel when building brand images, which should be understood in different layers. Corporate brands emphasise more on their personality and vision, where visual identities such as logos and slogans and viewpoints of the CEO are commonly communicated to the audience through traditional media. Its authority and narrative style offer room for telling complete and structural stories about brands.

Product brands tend to highlight the functional value and user experience. The revelation of pain points and the endorsement of influencers are vital ways to start a conversation with consumers. Social media is a good match with the content and is thus the preferred choice. For example, when consumers see the result of long-lasting powder and lipsticks through influencers’ demonstrations on short video platforms, it directly evokes their desire to try and buy the products.

For the branding of quality services, new media and traditional media can both be used to amplify stories from different angles. New media emphasises more on pre-sales and after-sales via short scenario stories while traditional media highlight the philosophies behind the brands and their services.

In the future, new media and traditional media are bound to articulate brands from different points, which is beneficial for brands to deliver their key messages to their target audiences in a deeper and wider sense. The key question to figure out then is which layer of messages the brands want to narrate around and accordingly, what media matrix the brands can apply and combine.

Jean-Jacques Verdun, Partner & CEO, San Jiao Ling, Guangzhou
Since quite a few years ago already, our GBA clients tend to use traditional media only for specific purposes: printed newspapers and news websites to dispatch their press releases and magazine ads or in-depth coverage to showcase their positioning and overall branding. Most marketing and PR strategies are only practised on new media, which is an ever-evolving media environment - from WeChat to Xiaohongshu, from TikTok videos to live-streaming.

As platforms and content types are always changing, brands need to have the ability to adapt quickly and constantly need to update their media resources. In addition, there is obviously less control in a new media environment compared to a traditional media one, and therefore they also need to have efficient crisis management strategies.

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