A debate over ASEAN tourism brand differentiation.

OK, everyone knows brands should differentiate themselves from each other to carve out their own space and, hopefully, compete favorably with their competitors. Except that assumes they will compete on characteristics they can “own” and that will attract their customers.

HOWEVER, in a recent Khmer Times article a respected Cambodian tourism industry insider has criticized ongoing efforts to define separate “brand identities” for countries in the region, as officials try to work together to distinguish the different benefits of visiting ASEAN countries.

Thourn Sinan, chairman of the Pacific Area Travel Association (PATA) Cambodia Chapter, said he disagreed with the typecasting of different countries, arguing that tourism could not be reduced to a series of consumer products.

Here’s how Thourn Sinan sees the individual countries’ “typecasting”:

  1. Cambodia is being promoted as the leading country for heritage tourism;
  2. Myanmar as the place to have the best local encounters;
  3. Laos as a country where you can take part in adventures by road;
  4. Vietnam as the home of luxury cruises;
  5. Thailand as the place to have a lively metropolitan and food experience.

Mr. Sinan said officials are free to define brand identities for each country in the region if they want, but claimed the majority of travelers are interested in understanding more than one aspect of each country, from the local people, to politics, the economy and wider traditions, outside of the obvious culture and heritage attractions.

“We cannot divide up countries like this or give tourists the option of purchasing a particular tourism product. Tourists want to see how developed a country is, what the living standards of the people are like, and also how they relate to the host country’s culture, customs, politics and economy,” Mr Sinan said.

And here is an alternative view from Lor Thoura, Director of the Marketing and Promotion Department at the Ministry of Cambodia Tourism:

He said the attempt to define brand identities is intended to play on the strengths of each country in the region.

Cambodia is famous for its cultural heritage, so the brand is “Kingdom of Wonders”, which will attract travelers who are interested in culture, he said.

“Those travelers who like culture and heritage will come to Cambodia,” Mr Thoura said.

He added that Thailand, for example, is branded “Amazing Thailand”, because of its recreation services available to tourists.

“We cannot separate tourism into brand identities,” Mr Sinan said. “It is not possible because tourism is not a consumer product. Tourism is about feeling and imagination.”

Chhay Sivlin, president of the Cambodia Association of Travel Agents, argued that brand identities were just a way of grabbing the attention of tourists.

“Regional tourism authorities agree that Cambodia is rich in historical and cultural sites compared to other countries in the region, so that’s why we branded Cambodia as a cultural and historical country,” Ms. Sivlin said.

“That doesn’t mean we don’t also have other tourism products to offer, such as our rivers, coastal areas and other natural resources.”

            So just where does this debate take us? 

I don’t know what the right answer is, but it does seem that the parties involved could use a little better information (via effective market  research?) to select what really makes their countries DIFFERENT  from their neighbors and ATTRACTIVE  to tourists. Other than that, if Mr. Sinan’s view of Vietnam’s and Laos’ branding is correct (as focused on”luxury cruises” and “adventures by road”), those countries might want to get some new thinking to guide their tourism marketing efforts.

To see the original article, just follow this link : http://www.khmertimeskh.com/news/39538/tourism-branding–falls-short-/

B2B Spending on Market Research Low…and Going Lower?

A recent survey by ESOMAR* estimated that just 4% of market research spending is on business to business projects. Perhaps, even more shocking is the fact that this year’s latest percentage is DOWN from last year’s 8%.  Andrew Dalglish of Circle Research has a nice write up on that which puts it in perspective.

*For those of you who have no idea who or what ESOMAR is, the following is provided: ESOMAR stands for World Association of Opinion and Marketing Research Professionals (formerly European Society for Opinion and Marketing Research).

The 4% level is shockingly (maybe even unbelievably) low since approximately 50% of businesses in developed countries are fully or partially involved in business-to-business marketing. (Editor’s Note: I don’t believe it is that low, either.)

Thankfully and with full attribution to Andrew, there are a number of points to consider, before all the B2B market researchers start jumping out of windows.

As Andrew writes, “First off, the data may be distorting the true picture a little. ESOMAR’s 4% figure relates to the percentage of market research spend, not market research projects. As business to business market research requires smaller sample sizes than consumer studies, this tends to make them less expensive than their consumer counterparts. This means that the proportion of business to business market research projects may actually be greater than 4%.”

Think of it this way. If you are a manufacturer of big jet engines and you want to research among prospective customers , your research universe is probably less than 100 of the major international airlines. On the other hand, if you’re researching flier interest in having a wifi internet option onboard during an international flight, the total universe is many, many millions. Guess which research project costs more.

But Andrew has some additional considerations that may explain (and question) the 4% number, specifically:

  • “Business to business purchases are seen as ‘rational’ which can lead to the mind-set that “it’s obvious what customers want, so we don’t need to ask”
  • Business to business companies are often ‘engineering’ led. This can lead to a ‘build it and they will come’ mentality and an internal focus
  • In business to business markets customer numbers are limited and relationships with sales teams close. This can lead to assumption (“I know my customer”), subjectivity (“I’ll ask them next time we speak”) and protectiveness (“that’s my customer”), none of which are conducive to conducting objective, independent market research.”

Maybe with all the above in mind, business-to-business marketers should think about investing MORE in research. Those that  do may find they get to know and understand their customers and markets better, and for them … that will translate to business success.

Read more at http://www.business2community.com/b2b-marketing/business-business-market-research-just-4-spend-01844119#DOXwZHO6ETFKIzhG.99

 

Airbnb launches new brand name in China. Maybe it needed “more effective”research.

Airbnb, the very successful, worldwide, U.S.-based online marketplace and hospitality online service provider, just launched the brand name it will use for marketing in China. It is a three-character name 爱彼迎 (ài bǐ yíng). Individually, the three characters mean ‘love’, ‘mutual’ and ‘welcome’—strategically on-target for Airbnb,  if you consider them in isolation

According to an Airbnb spokesperson, the name represents “the value and mission of our brand, with the love of the world’s tens of millions of neighborhood communities converging in the different corners of the earth”.

Except, there ‘s a little problem. Chinese consumers’ response to the name has been mixed and in some cases quite critical.

While an important step in localization for Chinese consumers and for establishing a clear differentiation from domestic competitors, the brand’s “love”-laden Chinese name may prove to be a liability.

The name has gotten more than just chuckles from Chinese netizens on the brand’s Weibo account and other social media, where comments have ranged from “ugly-sounding”, “sounds like a ‘filthy love hotel’ “and that the brand “might as well stick to having no Chinese name at all”.

Some marketing professionals have criticized the choice, because with the letters it joins together, it is not easy to pronounce. Also, the first character “爱 ài” is a widely used Chinese word expressing the idea of love. “Nothing wrong for a brand to be associated with love, but the issue is too many brands use it for exactly this reason,” says Jerry Clode, head of digital and social insight at Resonance. He feels the character is used excessively in the advertising of other industries and product categories in China. “There is too much ‘love’ in Chinese marketing; it seems difficult for Airbnb to own this emotion for themselves in a differentiated way.”

Well, we’ll see how this turns out. It seems to me that Airbnb will stick with its choice, until significant negatives develop.

However, it does seem strange that a company as knowledgeable in marketing as Airbnb did not either adequately or effectively use market research to evaluate all aspects of a completely new name in a market as widely diverse as China.

For the complete article from Campaign Asia go here: http://www.campaignasia.com/video/china-to-airbnb-new-chinese-name-is-ugly-sounding-like-a-filthy-love-hotel/434914