Over the past 12 months, MEC and CNBC have undertaken a major research project to to better understand in particular the digital behaviours of CEOs and how to better connect brands with CEOs.
Unlike other similar pieces of research, this project focussed on genuine CEOs and CIOs from large multinational companies, and across a number of markets – China, Singapore, Hong Kong and India.
CEOs have never been more accessible
From the research, it is clear that Asian CEOs do not conform to the stereotype of being unreachable; having all contact screened by the ubiquitous personal assistant. With the volume and accessibility of information, today CEOs are gladly taking direct control of their own access to communications, business performance and industry news. This stems partly from being competitive, partly from a fear of missing out and partly due to an inclination to learn and develop.
Smartphones are almost an extension of their arm and always-on, emails are personally dealt with necessary efficiency. Tablets (usually iPads) have rapidly been adopted, often for both work and play to share information in meetings, monitor business performance and catching up on news and reports.
For CEOs, relevance means to provide something they didn’t already know, that they act on, with a clear message and delivered at an appropriate time and channel. Email is stated as the preferred method of contact, since it can be left and dealt with at a convenient time. It also appeals to their desire to share relevant information with their networks.
CEOs are brand conscious – they just don’t like to admit it
Another popular myth is that consumer or B2B brands struggle to cut through with CEOs since either they already have their established favourite brands, or that that they are simply too pragmatic to be ‘seduced’ by brands. Not true – CEOs are very tuned in to brands and what they stand for – from hotels, airlines, apparel, luxury and technology. Apple is a regular favourite, where CEOs not only appreciate the products, but respect the company ethos, the history and what the late Steve Jobs achieved.
The travel corridor is still work – but a different kind of work
In most cases business travel is still work time, but considerably more lean back for CEOs. It is a time to reflect, perhaps on recent meetings, initiatives, or the longer term direction or vision of their business. It is a time to be inspired, through consumption of business publications, latest trends, experiences of other business leaders, or companies in other industries or countries.
Tablets have become critical on business travel, as CEOs will strive to simplify everything around them, including the amount of physical paper / books they may carry.
Jon Wright, Head of Analytics and Insight, Asia Pacific said, “We often forget that CEOs are human beings too – they are not a completely different breed. In many ways technology has made them more similar to the every day person, where they constantly access information on the go to remain informed and be inspired. Brands need to ensure that valuable content is provided that fits in with the CEOs’ requirements, and it needs to be effectively ‘liquid’ in order to be accessible via any device.”