The Great Marketing Restart

We ask Malaysian CMOs on how to prepare  for what’s ahead.

You’ve probably heard it before: Ecommerce is crucial to brand success. The value of community. Social Commerce is accelerating as social media platforms get more sophisticated. And customer experience is everything.

Havard Business Review also wrote about Old Truth vs New Truths….

Old truth: Marketing begins with knowing your customer.

New truth: Marketing begins with knowing your customer segment.

Old truth: You are competing with your competitors.

New truth: You are competing with the last best experience your customer had.

Old truth: Courting customers is just like dating.

New truth: Courting customers is just like online dating.

With the passing of the COVID phase, we are in a new awakening – sharper, leaner and hopefully more confident than ever. With marketing and advertising activities bouncing back, what are the learnings we can deploy from our time in “hibernation”? What are the new challenges brands are facing in the race to marketing success? Is data the new oil? Is marketing intuition the winning constant? Malaysian marketing leaders share their views….

Keni Kamaludin
Head, Consumer Marketing – Consumer Banking, CIMB.

The “hibernation” period has compelled marketers to remodel how they approach consumer engagement; at the same time delivering high value at a lower cost.

CIMB pivoted by amplifying SEO, sharpening audience segmentation and accelerating personalisation programmes by harnessing internal assets. We also moved closer to the ground to bolster connections between our merchants and community partners with our network of customers ie. Bazar Siberturahim, Artober, Komuniti Kita, etc.

2022 will be an exhilarating year as brands compete for share of affinity, mind and wallet whilst preparing for the third party cookie apocalypse. I believe strategic partnerships, both internal and external, are critical to enable stronger and deeper reaching impact to deliver true, sustainable value to our customers.

Chow Phee Chat
Regional Head Marketing Services, Communication & Innovations, Nestlé Products Sdn. Bhd 

With further headwinds looming, changes in consumer lifestyles and expectations, marketers need to be proactive, entrepreneurial, leaner and authentic to ensure sustainable growth for the business and provide positive impact to the community.

Claudian Navin Stanislaus
Head Of Communication & Consumer Marketing
Baba Products (M) Sdn Bhd 

If marketing has a balancing act, it’s not a tightrope stunt on a unicycle while juggling!

As we seem to be adapting to the fallout of the pandemic, we’ve been hit by one thing after another that almost seems like a teaser for a movie for the arrival of the Four Horsemen, but it’s amidst such challenges that we’ve seen our greatest changes.

Consumers are already more cost conscious and brands too have to put more into substance and less on frills – without the death trap of commoditization.

What’s the next big thing in the move forward? The ability to adapt and pivot, and not hold fast to preconceptions and the ability and willingness to take some steps back, left turns, pauses – or leaps of faith.

Data is no longer the next big thing or advantage, but it’s been a prerequisite for a while.

Intuition for most is from exposure and experience, but how many have been through similar circumstances?

So, for those who do not have the gift of hindsight… balance and belief will likely be key. That and the realisation that we should be less self-absorbed as an industry and listen more to our consumers – lest we forget that we’re consumers too…


Adam Wee Abdullah
Chief Marketing Officer, Manulife Insurance Berhad.

Data is not the new oil, it is more like water.

It is essential for almost all marketing activities today.

Marketing intuition is the differentiator.

It sets one marketer apart from another. Data validates the hypothesis developed out of the intuitions. During the pandemic and coming out of it now, one observation that I have seen increase global connectivity and collaboration. These are largely driven by effective virtual meetings. Especially for multi-national corporations.

Centres of excellence and shared services hosted in one country serving the region and multiple countries will be a prevalent narrative in the immediate future. It is exciting that marketing experts have the opportunity to help markets who do not have resources in the area of expertise. This will enable challenger brands to compete better in the market.


Shirley New
Director of Marketing,
Taylor’s University.

The last two years have taught us many things and the biggest lesson learnt is to never assume you know everything (case in hand, even COVID keeps evolving). It is also through this adversity that we learn from our failures and see opportunities that we’ve never seen before.

The fear in us has pushed us forward towards possibilities of what our minds dare imagine.

We are now living in a world where we face a data explosion and businesses must leverage it to operate with an authentic purpose. Marketers are the drivers while data is the car, and a great marketer will be able to ‘drive’ data to its best performance, and knows intuitively what skills to apply depending on the condition.


Jenny Chin
Head of Marketing Services,
U Mobile. 

As we come back to the marketplace that’s been looking for invigoration, we need to focus on the needs of the hour, with the cultural understanding of incidences that shaped the population over the past two years. This allows us to build relevance and in turn, give us a deeper understanding of how we can connect with our customers.

Secondly, it’s about keeping the message simple and direct. Our messages must be crisp, precise, and relevant to win in the marketing success race.

As seen from the success of TikTok and now FB reels, it’s all about being compact and relevant. On the data front, it has always been the fuel to the fire, even before the pandemic. The real challenge is customising that data to be relevant to bring actionable insights for your business. Even brands that compete within the same category use data differently, so it’s not a one-size-fits-all. You would need to know what you’re looking for before you go digging.

I look at 2022 with a lot of optimism because the market is hungry for action as well as some form of normalcy.  It is only human nature to start wanting to jump back into action, but on their own terms and perhaps with caution.


Hassan Alasagoff
Regional Marketing Head, Grab.

My 3 takeaways are…

  1. During tough times, double down on brand spend (rather than cut back). Invest in brand acts not ads, and turn that brand positioning into a brand experience.
  2. The pandemic and tech startups have taught us that today agility is as important as creativity. We no longer write annual marketing plans but instead charter ‘100-day marketing sprints’.
    By democratising access to data, we can empower decision making for teams to move faster.
  3. Marketing leaders need to bring out the best in teams by creating modern environments that motivate through play, purpose and potential.

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