Thursday, August 25, 2011

Event Overview: Former Li-Ning brand director talks about the importance of shopper marketing ahead of this year's Shopper Marketing Conference

PumaPulse Curated By ZenithOptimedia, The ROI Agency Find out more at

Retail in Asia recently caught up with Luka He, former brand initiative director, Fitness and Women Business at Li-Ning Sporting Goods, to learn about her experiences in China and top tips on shopper marketing ahead of the Shopper Marketing 2011 conference in Shanghai on 5-6 September.

RIA: How important is "shopper marketing" for Li-Ning in China? How much does the Li-Ning brand invest in shopper marketing?
Luka He (LH): Shopper marketing is very important for Li-Ning because we need to showcase to our clients that building a standard is important as well as the effectiveness of new collections in addition to the fundamental of keeping the sales going.

RIA: Can you share an example of the positive effect of shopper marketing to your business?
LH: Just before the 2008 Olympics, we leveraged our heritage sport, gymnastics and diving, to draw attention from consumers and again reiterate our brand story with past Olympic stories and anecdotes. The year on year same-store-sales grew over 60 percent although we don't sell gymnastic and diving products. 

RIA: Some says segmenting shoppers is important for brands to answers the requirements of individual segments. What is your take on this?
LH: I think it's quite important. As retail landscape is changing, consumers are getting more sophisticated and tend to buy different products at different types of stores. Say, a consumer will go to Li-Ning's stand-alone stores for one thing and go to multi-brand outlets for another thing according to consumers' feedback. We need to segment shoppers to fully capture the business potential. 

RIA: What do you think are the best ways to get buying behaviour data in China?
LH: A brand's own transactions will be a strong base. The key is not getting the data but growing the ability to read through these data and analysis. Besides, a competitive transaction analysis and observation will be very useful. 

RIA: What do you see as the top-three challenges for retailers to deploy their shopper marketing strategies in China? Why?
LH: Firstly, people think they know China because they grew up here. But China is too big and different. To correctly segment from a geographic point of view is a challenge. Not along that in a super city like Beijing, there are areas just like any third-tier cities.
Secondly, Chinese companies' biggest rivals are themselves. These companies grew their distribution network very fast in the past few years. When you know it, the network is a bit too big to handle.
And the third top challenge is execution – as the devil is in the detail – or execution.

RIA: How does your brand cope with these challenges? 
LH: Doing research and diligent at market visit will somehow compensate the lack of knowledge. Also, developing the mindset and the team to do solid execution helps. Employing a few talents with experience is very effective as well. 

RIA: What other brands do you think effectively market in China?
LH: Coke, as an example, has established the coverage and kept dominant brand exposure at small village shops as far as a small village in Tibet. Uniqlo is very sophisticated as well although their store operation is a bit inferior compared to Japan. But their product assortment, distribution network and visual merchandising are all managed very well. They are also very creative at translating their on-line efforts to foot traffic through the doors. 

RIA: In your experience do shopper behaviours vary across different parts of China?
LH: Yes. Some differences come from weather, others from the priority industries of each city. Lots of factors affect their behaviour. Take Li-Ning's collaboration project with a fashion designer Zhang Da for example. Despite that the income level in Harbin might not be as high as Shanghai, people in Harbin have a higher acceptance for fashion items and higher spending per transaction for this collection than in Shanghai; even though people in Shanghai are seen as being more fashion-conscious. 

RIA: What are your top tips for marketing professionals who want to promote their brands to Chinese consumers?
LH: I think doing homework is always the key. Then you can make your decision based on facts, not second-guessing without any proof.

Luka He is the former brand initiative director, Fitness and Women Business of Li-Ning Sporting Goods. Prior to this role, Luka worked in a variety of industries including mobile communications, payment platforms and marketing consulting. She has worked with brands including Visa international, Far EasTone, Nike, ESPN Star Sports and New England Patriots. Her marketing coverage includes branding, advertising, PR, digital marketing, shopper marketing, usage analysis, new product development and customer lifetime management. 

Luka He will be the chairperson at the upcoming conference Shopper Marketing 2011. Organised by Marcus Evans, Shopper Marketing 2011 will be held in Renaissance Shanghai Pudong, Shanghai, China on 5 and 6 September. The two-day event will feature various workshops, presentations and case studies on shopper marketing. 


Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Kobe Bryant’s New Signature Nike Sneaker Helps Fight Cancer

PumaPulse Curated By ZenithOptimedia, The ROI Agency Find out more at

It also does the dishes, cleans the yard, and takes the dog for a walk…Just kidding!

The Nike Zoom Kobe VI “Think Pink” sneaker—the latest version of Kobe Bryant‘s signature sneaker—doesn’t do everything. But fresh off Kobe’s 45-point game at the Drew League this week, it does have an important mission in mind. Namely, keeping your feet in style—and helping to cure cancer. That’s right. Outside of just building off the success of the Kobe VI, the “Think Pink” sneaker is also designed to do some good for the world, too. Nike has created it in honor of Kay Yow—the former head coach of the North Carolina State women’s basketball team who died of breast cancer back in January 2009—and all those men and women affected by breast cancer.

They’re taking that sentiment a step further, too. Nike will donate a portion of the sales of the “Think Pink” sneaker to the Kay Yow Foundation, which is committed to trying to find a cure to the different kinds of cancer that women suffer from. So go ahead and pick up a pair for your girl when they drop August 26 and know that you’re doing something good for the world while she stays in style. At $130, they aren’t cheap. But, hey, it’s for a good cause, right?


Monday, August 22, 2011

Advertisers start using facial recognition to tailor pitches

PumaPulse Curated By ZenithOptimedia, The ROI Agency Find out more at

Picture this: You stop in front of a digital advertising display at a mall and suddenly an ad pops up touting makeup, followed by one for shoes and then one for butter pecan ice cream.

It seems to know you're a woman in your late 20s and, in fact, it does. When you looked at the display, it scanned your facial features and tailored its messages to you.

Once the stuff of science fiction and high-tech crime fighting, facial recognition technology has become one of the newest tools in marketing, even though privacy concerns abound.

The Venetian resort, hotel and casino in Las Vegas has started using it on digital displays to tailor suggestions for restaurants, clubs and entertainment to passersby.

Kraft Foods Inc. and Adidas say they are planning to experiment with it as early as this year to push their products.

A group of U.S. bar owners in Chicago last month started using facial recognition, in conjunction with mounted cameras, to keep tabs on the male/female ratio and age mixes of their crowds. Patrons planning a night out can use mobile apps to get a real-time check of a venue's vibe.

"This helps people avoid those hit-or-miss nights," said Cole Harper, 27, co-founder of the SceneTap company that makes the app.

The commercial applications of facial recognition are in contrast to those being used by law enforcement to identify specific individuals. Companies, at least at this point, mostly just want to pinpoint a demographic based on age and gender to tailor their ads.

But even this facial recognition-lite alarms privacy advocates, given that it could greatly popularize and expand use of the technology.

Intel Corp., which makes such software, said it's widely adaptable.

"You can put this technology into kiosks, vending machines, digital signs," said Christopher O'Malley, director of retail marketing for Intel's embedded and communications group. "It's going to become a much more common thing in the next few years."

So far, the technology is in most use commercially in Japan, where a variety of businesses use it to customize ads.

"It's not just clothing stores or restaurant chains," said Joseph Jasper, spokesman for NEC Corp., which makes display screens used for facial recognition-driven ads. Banks, for example, use it to target customers based on their ages, separating out older customers from young people who are more likely to be opening their first account.

The technology works by digitally measuring the distance between the eyes, the width of the nose, the length of a jawline and other data points. Law enforcement agencies that use facial recognition — as was done during the recent London riots — compare the measurements against photos in databases.

But for most marketing uses, the measurements are compared to standardized codes that represent features typical of males and females in various age brackets.

Adidas is working with Intel to install and test digital walls with facial recognition in a handful of stores either in the U.S. or Britain. If a woman in her 50s walks by and stops, 60% of the shoes displayed will be for females in her age bracket, while the other 40% will be a random sprinkling of other goods.

"If a retailer can offer the right products quickly, people are more likely to buy something," said Chris Aubrey, vice president of global retail marketing for Adidas.

Kraft said it's in talks with a supermarket chain, which it would not identify, to test face-scanning kiosks.

"If it recognizes that there is a female between 25 to 29 standing there, it may surmise that you are more likely to have minor children at home and give suggestions on how to spice up Kraft Macaroni & Cheese for the kids," said Donald King, the company's vice president of retail experience.