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Steve Sowerby Download – 4th Nicholas Hall Asia-Pacific OTC Conference Day 2

Steve Sowerby Download – 4th Nicholas Hall Asia-Pacific OTC Conference Day 2

We had more great speakers on Day 2 but one that stood out for me was Neerja Sewak (Brand Suntory) who focused on the magic that is ‘Brands – Chicken Essence’.

Never have I heard a CCO be so open, honest and transparent about her brand. Talking with equal passion about what’s wrong and needs to be fixed (taste and pharmacy recommendation) but equally with what is great about the brand, such as the reason to believe (the process and proof of this incredible brand)

The challenge for brands is how to engage with the Millennial generation and how to use the insight to relate to their pursuit for purpose and goals. So ‘Fuel your Purpose’ was the catchphrase that brought this campaign to the new millennia.

The rallying cry from Brand Sentory – ‘Yatte Minhari’ meaning take risks, do the impossible is very much a rallying cry to our whole industry. We are on the edge of a cataclysmic change and we can choose whether to fall or fly, it is within our responsibilities.

A very powerful discussion session followed, chaired by Nicholas Hall and involving Gautam Suri (J&J), Riccardo Basile (Lazada Group) and Michael Hilb (DKSH), where it was made clear that change is inevitable and change to ecommerce is effectively already here. In a region where quality retail is scarce outside of the major cities, Asia is the prime driver of ecommerce globally.

There were some good discussions in terms of the evolution, or rather revolution in machine learning/ AI. This revolution has made it possible to tailor communication to individuals and our role here is to adapt and indeed create communities on which to focus our messages. The future for e-retailing is clear, the future of technology is clear, we must get out of the mind-set to fight the inevitable changes driven by our consumers, use of technology and begin to partner with technology giants to evolve our organisations to be more fundamentally driven by consumer behaviours and attitudes rather than our historical approach.

In the next 7 years by 2025, Millennial’s will constitute 75% of our workforce and therefore are the most important drivers of our industry; we have to change today because if we are too slow, they will make the decisions about our future, potentially in a negative way.

Nicholas Hall’s final words presented a call to action, we have to change, we have to think of the bigger opportunities and not the historical market that we have all grown comfortable in. The future is risky, the future is dangerous, the future is inevitable and equally it is exciting, inspiring and presents opportunities for growth for our industry that have been unimaginable in the past.

This conference was the first time that in open forum, we have discussed in a realistic way the need and indeed the inevitable change facing us. Equally Nicholas articulated that we are not ready, but then I would argue that we will never be ready because technology and consumers move much faster than we can under our traditional structures.

We have to move, we have to try, and we have to engage. Being intransient is not an option, making fundamental changes, trying, failing and improving is the way of working for the future and the future is now!