social_mediaExperian Marketing Services conducted a research with 300 Hong Kong marketing professionals across the retail, financial services, government, technology, digital and travel industries; and 1,046 consumers across all demographics to develop an industry whitepaper on the current state of play in consumer marketing.

The independent research reveals how well marketers’ and consumers’ interests are aligned, and shows where marketers in Hong Kong are investing their dollars and which channels they value most highly in their communication. From a consumer perspective, it explores how effectively the general population in Hong Kong responds to and engages with marketing efforts.

In their report, Experian revealed a significant disconnect between marketer perception and the real experience of every day customers in Hong Kong. The report shows that 64% of marketing professionals believe they have an ‘effective’ customer segmentation strategy, which enables them to run targeted campaigns, while 47% of consumers said they had stopped engaging with four or more brands, as a result of poorly targeted communications.

Marketers did acknowledge that it was becoming harder for their messages to cut through the noise and get heard by the right people, with 52% saying it was getting more difficult. The results also showed that the travel and leisure industries are most likely to find it difficult for messages to be heard (75%), while the financial services and online digital industries are far less likely to think it is difficult (48%).

To overcome this challenge 85% of marketers have a customer segmentation strategy in place. In addition, 77% say they are becoming more selective about the channels they use to engage customers. While marketers are using tools to get the right message to their audiences, they may not be applying this strategic segmentation across all marketing disciplines, particularly among channels such as social media.

Channel preferences – Digital vs. Print

Marketers believe the company website is the most important source that customers use to find out about a brand or product. Seven out of ten marketers (71%) rated the website as one of the top three most important sources, followed by search engines (63%) and social media ranking on third place (56%).

Overall, consumers also agree that a company website is the most valuable source of information (78%) and similarly search engines (62%) and social media (61%). Yet, when it comes to print media, there is a massive disconnect.

For consumers print is the second most valued channel (68%), in contrast to marketers who see it as one of the least important sources of information (39%).

Channels delivering the best return on investment

Over eight out of ten marketers in Hong Kong think social media marketing (85%) and online advertising (81%) are “highly effective” or “effective” at delivering the best ROI respectively and hence, these two channels will continue to be key investment areas in the next 12 months. However, despite marketers’ focus on digital channels, 75% did report that they had previously invested in a new online digital approach that did not deliver the anticipated return on investment. This was highest among government (81%) and technology companies (80%). Across all industries, the primary reason for a new channel failing was ‘a poor understanding of the channel’ (30%).

“A multichannel marketing approach is not a one-size-fits-all solution. Marketers should think about their cross-channel strategy and how they can create and stimulate a dialogue that engages consumers and encourages them to convert,” said John Merakovsky, Managing Director at Experian Marketing Service for Asia Pacific.

“Social media and online channels get the most attention from the marketers in terms of strategy and investment, however, accurate and comprehensive consumer data is also required in parallel in order to justify the effort and launch successful campaigns.”

Future areas of investment

Over the next 12 months, 65% of marketers plan to increase investment in social media advertising. This is followed by online advertising (49%), apps (46%) and events (44%). Despite the increased focus on digital, 41% of marketers also plan to increase their spend on print ads. Similarly, in TV and radio, 35% plan to increase spend.

“Marketers are working hard to ensure their messages are heard, but the research highlights that there is still huge room for improvement. Marketers need to further understand how and when consumers want to engage across all channels, particularly social media. The opportunity for marketers over the next year is to make their customer segmentation strategies more sophisticated, to create more tailored traditional and social campaigns to target the consumer,” concluded Merakovsky.

Experian Marketing Services delivers best-in-breed data, analytics and platforms into multiple regions around the globe. It is focused on helping marketers more effectively target and engage their best customers through email, digital advertising, customer data management, customer and competitive insight, data enrichment and list rental, modeling and analytics, and strategic consulting. Through these capabilities, Experian Marketing Services enables organizations to encourage brand advocacy, create measurable return on investment and significantly improve the lifetime value of their customers.

The research is part of an in-depth whitepaper on “The Future of Multichannel Marketing’,” by Experian Marketing Services. To receive a copy of the whitepaper, please contact