An interview with Rahul Asthana, Regional Marketing Director at Kimberly Clark
Rahul Asthana has over 14 years of brand building, marketing and sales experience working on the largest brands with the largest FMCG companies in the world.
Since January 2014, Rahul has been a key member of the Asia Pacific Leadership Team of Kimberly-Clark’s consumer business as regional sector leader for its largest business, Baby & Child Care – which is $1.5 Bln net sales and close to 50% of Kimberly Clark’s Asia Pacific business. He is also responsible for the digital & ecommerce strategies and capability building for all of Kimberly Clark’s consumer businesses. The territories include Australia, North Asia, ASEAN and India.
WHAT RECENT ADVANCEMENTS IN DIGITAL MARKETING AND TECHNOLOGIES DO YOU THINK ARE THE MOST EXCITING?
“There is so much happening in this area that it is difficult to pick out one specific thing. I am going to talk about four things that are changing the world of marketing –
Business/Commerce via messaging apps like WeChat and Line – increasingly (especially in Asia), messaging apps are offering themselves as services that can be used to conduct business online. This is truly blurring the world where selling and engagement can happen on the same channel. Brands can use ecommerce sites like Amazon, JD Mall and Taobao to engage in addition to sell. Brands can use social media channels to drive commerce in addition to engagement; in fact Kimberly Clark has done this successfully on our Huggies brand in China using WeChat and JD.
Broadening definition of content that can be used to engage consumers – brands are moving beyond traditional usage of materials like TV copies for pre-roll, blogs and tweets to engage the consumers in truly memorable ways – 6 second videos on Vine, Instagram photos and Pinterest are all being used. In fact, on Kotex in China we have run many successful campaigns like the Valentine’s Day love letter to Luhan and the Air launch which generated more than 1 Billion views collectively
Advances in marketing automation with increasingly sophisticated learning CRM systems that are enabling brands to reach out to individuals with customised marketing and promotion content and yet get scale through automation – these enable richer segmentation, targeting and re-targeting and even development of content that is automated
Agile approach to marketing – increasingly, companies across sectors are leveraging the availability of real time data to change the way we approach marketing – from a traditional, heavy on planning and spending most of the money at the beginning of a program to a more reactive, learn as you go and adapt approach where as significant part of the budget is held back and deployed against programs and executions that are tweaked on the go. Kimberly Clark has been adopting this approach successfully across businesses in Australia and the US.”
WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU WILL TAKE AWAY AS YOUR BIGGEST LESSON LEARNT IN DIGITAL FROM 2015?
“Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good. The traditional approach to marketing is to test extensively before launch and when a direction is qualified, then you go and spend all the budget in developing a big bang launch. I believe that the new approach is to Just do it – test, fail fast and learn. I have learnt to have 3-4 different executions developed, launched and then based on the early data regarding engagement, spend the budget behind the direction that is working well. Digital enables us to do this as we are not locked into a plan from launch. We can always modify and tweak along the way.”
WHAT ARE YOUR PREDICTIONS FOR DIGITAL MARKETING TRENDS IN 2016?
“The increasing convergence of media consumption habits and purchase behaviour into one Omni-channel will be the biggest trend of 2016. Consumers will increasingly ignore the artificial differences between engagement and selling channels, online and offline and challenge brands to provide a seamless experience across channels. This will place greater emphasis on the Nexus of Forces (the convergence of mobile, social, cloud and information) and hence require deep integration of CRM, analytics, marketing automation, media distribution, social engagement to be able to deliver the personalised customer experience
A robust start-up scene across Asia including Singapore but also emerging markets like China and India will increasingly see more traditional companies reach out to leverage start-ups to find creative solutions to business problems.”
WHAT SKILLS DO YOU THINK A MARKETER NEEDS TO BE SUCCESSFUL IN DIGITAL?
“Marketers need to embrace the changing world and digital. They need to learn about new technologies, platforms that can enable their brands to engage better and more meaningfully with the consumer. Oftentimes, marketers are either scared of new technologies and often scared to admit that they don’t know how to use technology to drive their brand. We should just invest the time to learn – it doesn’t take that long to know enough to ask the right questions of our partners. Spend some time understanding the value to be had from programmatic media buying, social listening, CRM and you will not be disappointed.”
WHEN YOU’RE NOT BUSY WITH DIGITAL MARKETING, HOW DO YOU LIKE TO SPEND YOUR TIME?
“My work includes leading the baby and child care business for Kimberly-Clark in APAC. This involves a lot of travel. When I am not busy with that and marketing in a digital world, I like to spend time with my family – my wife and 15 month old daughter!”
As a keynote speaker at #DMWF Singapore, Rahul will be speaking at 9.30am on Day Two about ‘Integrated Marketing in a Digital World’. Be sure not to miss it!