Consumer electronics, communications, marketing – elements that combine very easily if you are familiar with the market you work in. Electronic industry giants have a unique approach to market to the tech-savvy citizens of Asia. With the pandemic turning 2020 upside down, how has the industry been impacted? More importantly for us, how have its marketers adapted to the changes we are all facing this year?
Straight out of university and into the whirlwind of experiences and growth, comes Matthew Hui. The Regional Consumer Marketing Manager for Sony Asia Pacific, Matthew started his career journey on a different path, one that took him on a roundabout journey through the industry and the region, until it brought him to Singapore and the role he is now in. Join us now with the kick-off of our Marketing Expert Series, and learn more about how Matthew has adapted and learned from the many experiences and perspectives he has encountered throughout his professional and personal life.
Welcome to the Marketing Expert Series, Matthew, thank you for joining us as its inaugural interviewee! Let’s kick off with a bit of your history. Tell us a bit about your journey so far. How did you end up in your current role?
I joined Sony right after graduating from university as a management trainee in Hong Kong. I went through quite a few rotations during the first two years of my career, working in multiple functions to understand the whole operation flow. During these years I learned how a consumer electronic firm operated, from backend operations like customer service and logistics, sales and marketing initiatives such as online marketing, product marketing, marketing communication, and even front end direct store sales.
In the end, I landed in the position of Sony’s product marketing manager in Hong Kong. This role oversees decision making for product marketing – so every day I am making decisions across different units from logistics to retail, from ATL/BTL marketing to after sales services – and my experience and understanding of Sony’s operations helps me with this.
After a few more years working locally, gaining more experience, I challenged myself and took on a new regional role in B2B product marketing for Asia Pacific.
After a couple more years, the new role of Line Up Manager gave me the opportunity to travel between Singapore and Hong Kong.
Most recently, in 2018, I took a permanent station in Singapore and moved back to my main focus, marketing consumer electronics in South East Asia, and this is where I’m still at right now.
So, what first drew you to marketing? Was it something you always wanted to do?
I studied business, with finance as a major because I thought that becoming a fund manager would be cool. After a few years of studying, and actually working in the finance industry, I discovered that sometimes, in the finance industry, your efforts and contributions to society aren’t very tangible or direct. This was not for me. I wanted a job where I could work on something direct, where your effort can be visualized, seen, and really make an impact on society. Apparently, what I was looking for was marketing, and just like that, I found my career path.
Right now you work with Sony APAC, what do you enjoy most about your role with such a giant in the industry?
Working at a tech consumer electronic giant is cool, every month you are launching something new into the market. There is never an end to new experiences, new things to try, and new things to learn in a company with such a diverse product portfolio targeting such a large and variable market segment.
And what’s it like working in the electronics industry as a marketer?
Well, marketing in the electronics industry may not be as advanced as in the SAAS/ App industry, where marketers rely on real time augmented marketing driven by data collected from customers at every touch point.
Being a marketer in the electronics industry is very hands-on. You need to have a good sense and understanding of all the latest marketing trends, skills, and technologies as well as a well-honed sensitivity to data. At the same time you also need to have a feel for the human touch because you have many opportunities to communicate face-to-face with dealers, customers, and/or business partners. I’d say it would be good to be an ‘all-rounder’ as an electronics industry marketer.
Are there any professional or personal experiences that influence your marketing style?
My extensive marketing experience with both local and regional, crossing both B2B and B2C electronic marketing allow me to be flexible to understand different perspectives. This helps with bringing new insight into current marketing decisions I have to make.
Many industries have been impacted one way or the other by the pandemic, I imagine it’s the same for consumer electronics, has it impacted your marketing strategies in any way?
Yes, of course. Due to the pandemic, customers are staying at home more and more and the chance that they visit brick-and-mortar shops is very low. As a result, as marketers, we have to shift our marketing strategies to be more online driven. We also have to be sympathetic to different customer situations and tailor our targeted approaches accordingly. However, I also see it as an opportunity for marketing as customer time spent online will increase which means that we can have more engagement with the customer online.
Have you had any positive or negative surprises due to pandemic that have impacted your tactics or methods?
This situation has never happened before, and I’ve seen a big change in human behavior because of it. I am constantly relearning how to market to our audiences these days. Recently, I’ve seen customers engage a lot more with online advertisement. They’re more influenced by the ads they see, and the influencers they follow. I am seeing a general shift throughout the industry from storefront conversion rates to online conversion rates during the lockdown. Recently, however, I’ve also seen a recovery in offline sales as well. I believe this is due to the customers now being more eager to purchase when they are able to visit a shop front than they maybe were in the past, because the chance of visiting a physical store now is more valuable. As a result, while they’re out at the shopfront they are more determined and more ready to purchase.
On top of that, the ability to test or try out a product before purchase is harder, at the moment, so people are more likely to buy sight unseen, so to speak. All these are things that I am still adapting to, trying to create the most effective way to market our products. I believe that’s not not a bad thing in marketing, to adapt to changing situations, because we must always take customer behavior changes into account.
Do you see any lasting marketing changes that you and the industry are going to have to embrace after COVID-19?
I definitely believe customers will be driven online, and I think that the online portion of above-the-line (ATL) marketing is going to increase because of it. I also think there will be more and more e-commerce. For offline marketing, I think brick-and-mortar stores will be increasingly focussed on customer experience building instead of converting sales, largely because of this shift to e-commerce.
What about for you, personally, when this pandemic is over, what’s the next big thing on your horizon?
I can’t wait to travel. Being a marketer, I like to stay sharp on things that are happening in the world, and travelling allows me to gain more insight into different perspectives and customer behaviors. I can’t wait to travel again, for business to get first hand experience in local markets and, of course, also for pleasure, to reconnect to the world.
What is some advice you’d give to young and aspiring marketers?
Keep exploring. Keep learning and adopting new ideas. Something that’s definitely right today won’t necessarily be right tomorrow. Being a marketer means staying close to what is happening in the world, so don’t let narrow-mindedness or your own fixed experiences defeat you. The more experienced you are, the more you have to jump out of your comfort zone and listen to others. Challenge yourself and dare to learn from a wrong decision.
Thank you for sharing these insights and experiences, Matthew! How can people connect with you if they’d like to know more?
The Marketing Expert Series features marketing and communications experts from across every industry. Every month, 2Stallions will showcase the stories and expertise of marketing experts from around the world, join us as we explore how marketers navigate the challenges of the regions and industries they work in. If you’d like to be featured in a next issue of the Marketing Expert Series. Please reach out to us via email.
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