According to Reuters, Japanese messaging app Line has filed for an IPO valued at over $10 billion.
No doubt the space is heating up. Competition is increasing. Facebook acquired WhatsApp for $19 billion. Japanese Internet giant Rakuten purchased Viber for $900 million. More recently, Kakao Corp (the maker of KakaoTalk, South Korea’s top messaging service and a direct competitor to Line) and Daum (one of South Korea’s largest Internet portals) announced they would merge through an equity swap, creating a company with about $2.9 billion market capitalization!
To put all this activity in perspective, I recently published a new piece of research explaining how messaging apps are morphing into new media portals and are becoming the new face of social.
WeChat is jockeying to become a global digital platform, thanks to the deep pockets of its parent company, the Chinese Internet giant Tencent. The other Chinese Internet giant, Alibaba, which recently invested $280 million in Tango, could also connect the dots between its commerce, payment, media, and social capabilities.
Soon to have 500 million registered online users, Line is definitely a key player in the space. The money to be raised will help in developing the already significant international expansion and further develop the positioning of Line as a “smartphone life platform.” The majority of the $335 million in revenue generated in 2013 came from games and about 20% from stickers — “emoticons on steroids,” as my colleague Julie Ask called them.
Sales enablement professionals with responsibility for sales training clearly have a conflict: the desire to help salespeople be successful, and the demands of the organizational leaders who request multiple training activities for Sales. The fact is, many sales training plans are massively diluted by a mish mash of uncoordinated training activities. Training organizations are so bombarded by requests from Marketing, product groups, executives, sales management, and others, that they could deliver many months-worth of full day training events to salespeople every year -- if sales leadership would allow it. So managing demand, expectations, and results is a major challenge for training leaders.
How Effective Is Sales Training?
Considering the amount of time that’s already invested in training, CEOs, sales leaders, sales managers are often asked how effective and impactful they believe sales training is. That’s reasonable given that they foot the bill, right? Nonetheless, their views are a distant second in importance to those whose opinion matter most. The people that best know how effective and impactful your sales training is are your buyers.
Think about it. Salespeople are employed for the sole reason that you sell something complex enough that your customers need to talk with a salesperson to buy it. If that was not the case, they’d buy online and be done with it. Wouldn’t you? So every salesperson’s job is to create value for customers via their conversations. If they don’t accomplish that then there’s little chance of a sales because they’ll go elsewhere. So buyers, ultimately, are the purest judge of whether your sales training is effective in supporting selling (and consequently buying).
Since rising to prominence as a part of the C-suite back in the late 1990s, the role of the chief marketing officer (CMO) has never been as critical to the success of organizations as it is in today's customer-driven post-digital age. And CMOs are taking notice, stepping up to the leadership challenge as a full partner in the C-suite. As marketers indicated in our report on The Evolved CMO In 2014 (subscription required), their business leadership requires them to optimize the marketing organization they oversee. Forrester believes that as empowered customers take control of their relationship with brands, CMOs must optimize their teams by redefining their organization in the form of a marketing operating system (MOS).
An MOS-based structure transforms every facet of a marketing organization requiring CMOs to inspire their organizations to think and act differently. It’s up to you, the CMO, to establish the vision, define the new values, and model the behaviors you want from your team as you implement your MOS.
I recently joined Forrester’s CMO team as a principal analyst covering agencies — the world where I spent most of my time over the past 15 years. I have been fortunate enough to have worked at thriving agencies as they have undergone major change: Avenue A as it built out its media capabilities and tools; OMD at its start — merging four strong media divisions to form one media buying firm; and for the past five years, 360i as it grew from a search powerhouse into an award-winning full service digital agency.
As marketers shift their focus to become more customer-obsessed, agencies are evolving to provide the strategy and services needed to usher brands into the age of the customer. My research will focus on how CMOs can navigate and nurture their agency relationships and how agencies can evolve their businesses in the post-digital agency landscape.
The age of the customer coupled with the onset of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (a.k.a. "Obamacare") means that many new customers will enter the US health insurance market. One outcome of the legislation is an opportunity for health insurance marketers to acquire new customers and engage existing customers — and Forrester wants to help them seize this moment. As such, we have created a consumer healthcare segmentation to identify unique groups of US consumers as well as their healthcare needs and attitudes to help health insurance marketers target new customers, engage existing customers, and innovate exciting healthcare tools and programs.
Our report, “Introducing Forrester’s Consumer Healthcare Segmentation,” explains each segment and how to attract or engage them. The segmentation includes both insured and uninsured consumers, representing the entire US online adult population. The graphic below shows each of the segments and their relative size.
Some highlights from the report, which is based on a survey of more than 4,500 US online consumers:
Fitness Trackers are young and love to use wearable devices; in fact, everyone in this segment uses one. The majority agree that that their health and wellness are priorities for them and they try to eat a healthy diet, but close to half believe that they are so healthy that they don’t need health insurance.
Mobile is changing the daily life of Chinese consumers; the phone-addicted population (ditouzu) is growing fast. With high adoption and usage of mobile devices, consumers in China are experiencing the mobile mind shift: the expectation that they can get what they want in their immediate context and moments of need. However, marketers in China are not keeping up with consumers. Why? They aren’t thinking about mobile strategically:
They hold false assumptions on how to reach Chinese mobile consumers. Most marketers in China still think in a traditional way: They assume that consumers in tier one cities are the most active mobile Internet users; that Chinese mobile users can actually use the mobile Internet on the go; and that a city-tiered approach in mobile marketing will be successful.
Their mobile marketing strategies are still experimental. Although many marketers in China have tested mobile, only few have incorporated it as a consistent marketing channel. Marketers only spend a very small portion of their ad budgets on mobile.
Nestlé China's ice cream business unit has two major brands: BenNaNa and Five Rams. BenNaNa is an unusual ice cream stick with a peelable jelly shell that shapes the ice cream, which is eaten just like a real banana. Because of its playfulness, BenNaNa is the No. 1 kids’ brand in China and is also popular among young consumers. Five Rams, a local brand that has been based in Guangzhou for more than 50 years, was licensed by Nestlé in the 1990s. As a regional brand, Five Rams is the category leader in Guangdong province.
Nestlé started using social media in 2012. For the first two years, the company confined its social marketing efforts mostly to Sina Weibo, as it had tested other platforms but did not find any that generated good performance. Starting this year, the Nestlé marketing team added WeChat to its social spectrum and gradually shifted its efforts to this rapidly growing mobile social platform.
On June 24, I attended the launch event for the new flagship of Huawei’s Honor product family, the Honor 6, in Beijing. As one of the world’s largest telecom equipment manufacturer, Huawei has been cultivating a mobile phone business in the past few years, and became the third largest smartphone vendor in the world at the end of 2013. Until now, Huawei’s mobile phone business has mainly followed a B2B2C business model: selling its devices via mobile network operators. Huawei launched Honor in December 2013 as an independently operated Internet brand that aims to adapt quickly to changes in the age of the mobile Internet and provide high-performance products at reasonable prices. As a former member of the mobile phone fraternity, I was impressed by Huawei’s technical leadership at the two-hour launch event — but behind the revelry, I noted that Huawei faces a few dilemmas:
A confused brand proposition. Huawei’s speakers spent a lot of time talking about the Honor 6’s technology framework and chipset, but didn’t mention what consumers can get from those technical advantages. The Honor 6 is a high-performance product with powerful functionality — high-speed LTE Cat6, an octacore Kirin 920 processor, long battery life, a powerful camera, innovative features, and a fancy Emotion UI — that retails for just RMB 1,999 (usually the price of a mid/low-end smartphone in China). Honor 6 is marketed as “the world’s fastest 4G smartphone”, but the promotional video suggests that the phone’s target audience is the young struggling working class. The brand message is inconsistent with the product positioning.
The entire Australia team is incredibly excited about this landmark event for Forrester. Here’s why:
The theme for this year’s event is “Winning In The Age Of The Customer.” What does this really mean? It’s simple, really. Empowered by digital platforms, your customers are free — free to act on their own needs and priorities, free to pick their own moments of engagement, free to design their own experiences — and free to ignore your own best efforts to shape and control all three. Forrester calls this new reality “the age of the customer.”
We’ll be releasing some brand-new research at the event that sheds light on the current state of customer experience management practices in Australia. While I don’t want to give away the ending, suffice it to say that Australian firms of all sizes are making customer experience a strategic priority. Firms across Australia increasingly have C-level executives driving their focus on CX, and they expect to get significant value from their efforts.
But not all firms are at the same level of maturity — or even awareness. While some are finding ways to pull ahead of competitors through CX differentiation, others have not even gotten started yet. That’s why we’ve tailored this event to show attendees the one sure path to CX maturity and provide detailed guidance on how to advance along that path.
My latest report, "How Hampton Hotels Built And Sustains Its Customer-Obsessed Culture," is a case study of the hotel chain. The brand has been on a nearly 10-year journey to differentiate its hotels from competitors on the basis of exceptional guest experiences. It all started back in 2004. As part of the brand's 20th-anniversary celebration, Hampton asked its hotel owners to make about 120 product upgrades ranging from curved shower curtain rods to easy-to-use alarm clocks. Within a year, competitors had copied all of the new features.
The next year, in response to the cutthroat competition in the hotel industry, Hampton embarked on a culture transformation intended to differentiate its hotels from competitors by delivering superior guest experiences. Along the way, the team at Hampton learned important lessons about how to create and sustain a customer-obsessed culture:
Leverage executive support. The Hampton brand team began by making sure it had executive support for a culture transformation. That was smart. In previous research, I found that every successful culture transformation has had active executive support. The team at Hampton took advantage of having a strong advocate for customer focus in the form of Phil Cordell, who was the global head of focused service and Hampton brand management. He backed the transformation and created a new position, senior director of brand program development and integration, and appointed Gina Valenti to lead the transformation efforts.