Brand Vision—the Human Edge

The Asia Research Breakfast Seminar 2023

By: Piers Lee, Deputy Editor, Asia Research Media

Asia Research Media held its 18th breakfast seminar in Singapore in October, bringing together clients and suppliers in a knowledge-sharing session examining the latest developments in branding/communications, research, and related areas.

With in-person events now robustly back in the calendar, the breakfast seminar series from Asia Research offers focused sessions that delve into specific fields, often with up-and-coming independent agencies sharing their best practices, case studies, and intellectual property.

Our sell-out event included clients from financial services, media, hotels, telecoms, FMCG, retail, consumer goods, and presentations from supply side organisations including That Fig Tree, Forethought, Duxton Consulting, 2CV, and EyeSee.

Forethought is a marketing advisory, strategy and analytics firm based in Australia. Their presentation covered their Communications Triple Play method that explores the System 1 thinking around consumer decision-making.  They provided a scientific understanding of the factors driving both rational and emotional aspects of consumer purchases across categories.  

One of their approaches utilizes a ‘metaphor elicitation technique’ —a visual depiction to allow consumers to ‘play around’ with their more deeply held thoughts on how they feel towards the things that will (ultimately) determine our consumer preferences. Forethought emphasised the value of imagery, and the reason why they often avoid traditional focus groups, as there is often too much interference of individual’s thinking in these sessions.

Their framework blends the rational drivers of brand choice with the ‘Prophecy Feelings’ —the discrete emotions that drive brand choice within a category. This includes how brands can ‘activate’ specific emotions within a campaign to connect with the consumer.

Based on Forethought’s extensive work in this area, they have been able to produce a hierarchy of emotional versus rational drivers of brand choice based on category.  Those categories that have the most emotive drivers include baby products, leisure travel, and media; and at the opposite end of the scale, with more rational drivers of choice, are purchases for discount department stores, convenience stores, and telecoms.   

That Fig Tree presented a paper on generational marketing. With a lot of talk about Gen Z and Gen Alpha in terms of their distinctiveness, and desire for positive and transparent brands, far more research is needed on these new generations. Their case study revealed the uniqueness of Gen Z and Alpha, that is rooted in the socio-cultural context they navigate daily.  That Fig Tree provided perspectives on ‘social’, ‘growth’, and ‘self-identity’ as a guide to how brands should be marketing to them. 

A case study from India showed that identity had moved away from values around ‘social interdependence’, and how ´status´ has moved from material possession, wealth and family status to something called ´Khalbali´ that means ´significance.´ This has resulted in a change of emphasis from chasing success to ‘achieving significance’ that includes consumers changing their emphasis on possessions instead to ´experiences´ and to living ‘in-the-moment’ rather than for the longer term.

Duxton Consulting presented their proprietary consumer research method that fuses psychology and cutting-edge machine learning techniques. Using case studies from Unilever, Samsung, and a regional bank, they demonstrated how leveraging psychological and data insights empowers clients to redefine how they engage with their customers, and precisely discern the ´who´, ´when´, ´what´, and ´why´ behind every consumer interaction. 

Their predictive model showed how all individual customers in the database could be converted into new revenue. An example given was a customer of a bank who can be deemed likely to want a fixed deposit product, and based on the ‘needs-map’ the bank can predict what is driving their motivation—and when would be the right time for the bank to approach them.

2CV has presented at several Asia Research breakfast seminars over the years. Specialising in technology and consumer trends, their presentation examined the world of video gaming and how advertisers can reach out to this highly engaged audience. 

Gamers are a huge audience globally and rapidly growing in the Asia Pacific region, 60% of marketers in Asia have spent on reaching gamers, but relatively little is known about them doing this effectively.  2CV measured 52 brands among 3,000 gamers to assess the performance of some of the world’s biggest brands among gamers to find out what works with gamers (and what doesn’t). 

The presentation explored how, across 6 markets, non-endemic brands from fashion, financial services, FMCG, Quick Service Restaurants and entertainment have been making or missing their mark. One of the case studies presented included the portability of KFC’s brand assets, with the iconic Colonel Sanders featuring in The Sims Go Dating and Street Fighter which highlighted the need for brands entering the space to understanding gaming culture and be seen as a good fit with gaming needs.

EyeSee is a tech-enabled behavioural research company, leading in in-context studies, including creating replicas of shopping environments. With so many disruptions to retail markets since the pandemic, EyeSee conducted a comprehensive meta-analysis of 250 studies in the FMCG category to analyse the impact on consumer buying behaviours pre- and post-pandemic.

The leading category that EyeSee examined—food—saw consumers express higher than average desirability for purchase, but this does not necessary convert into follow through to purchase.  Fewer consumers are buying fewer products, and due to higher levels of competition, visibility of SKUs on the shelf have declined.  

One category that is seeing higher growth is in OTC medicine, with an increase in purchase intent of 12%.  Higher awareness of health issues in general is giving rise to more demand to ‘self-medicate’. 

In addition, EyeSee reminded us of TikTok’s post-pandemic influence and continued growth, explaining the reasoning behind Universal Robina’s successful ad campaign and concluding with recommendations for FMCG and other product creatives that work best on this platform.

Asia Research will hold two breakfast seminars in 2024, one based around UX & product innovations/development; and the other on HR research, talent management, and employee engagement.  Those interested in presenting at these events can email a summary of their paper to

This article was first published in the Q4 2023 edition of Asia Research Media.

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