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Oct 18 2018

Breaking the rules of marketing in New Zealand

Note: This is part of Nokia Software Business Group’s new guest-blog series on ‘digital time,’ providing expert insights and best practices to help customers drive innovation and leverage technology to deliver superior digital experiences.

Innovation is a goal that many organizations strive to achieve, but I like to say that in my home country of New Zealand, innovation is a way of life and a means of survival.

With only about 150 years of history, New Zealand is an infant compared to European countries. Our youthfulness makes us ambitious and drives us to take risks. Additionally, New Zealand is geographically isolated from the rest of the world and lacks many resources, making it unique by nature and forcing Kiwis to think differently. As New Zealand-born physicist Sir Ernest Rutherford once put it, “We’ve got no money, so we have to think.”

Survival Instincts in Business

In order to compete on an international level, New Zealand-based businesses need to break the rules and think outside the box with savvy marketing campaigns and crafty offers. Services in New Zealand will never be the cheapest, based solely on our distance and isolation from the rest of the world.

For one example, look to the New Zealand airline industry, where customers are often burdened by high costs. To make travelling more appealing to customers, Air New Zealand focused on the customer experience. The airline created an app that sends passengers important alerts at every step of the travel process, notifying them of their gate number and departure time when they arrive at the airport, and alerting them later when it’s time to board. That’s not all – the app will even offer to order your favorite coffee for you while you wait.

This customer-first strategy extends to offline channels as well. Knowing that it would never compete with larger airlines in the luxury market, Air New Zealand instead focused on perfecting the travel experience for all customers. Its economy class includes SKY COUCH – three seats that convert into a bed or large sofa – to offer a comfortable and memorable trip.

Marketing to the Individual

Ultimately, as a marketer, it’s not about what you’re selling or what you say to your customers. The only thing they will remember is how they feel after interacting with your brand. As shown by Air New Zealand’s innovative approach, focusing on the right customer, at the right time, with the right offering is important, but you have to treat each customer as an individual to make them feel delighted, or else they will not be a return customer. Regardless of the industry, what truly binds any business together are the customers and how they experience your brand.

During my time working at Lion and Kirin brewing group, we competed against European brewers who were taking the entire market by storm. To reach an international customer base, I was faced with a dilemma of whether to partner with an international brand, or invent something new to compete with the larger brands.

In the end, we decided to transform the Steinlager brand, one of Lion’s premium beers, to create a product that embodies the unique spirit of New Zealand. With Steinlager Pure, we wanted to demonstrate New Zealand’s pride by creating a beer without and preservatives or additives, made from ingredients grown and bottled in New Zealand, with a sleek, fresh appearance. Our launch campaign highlighted all of the daring firsts New Zealanders have taken on, like going nuclear free, and touched on the qualities that set our country apart from the rest of the world. We appealed to our individual customer’s sense of pride, making Steinlager Pure one of the most successful product launches in New Zealand’s history.

The 2degrees Data Hunt

I brought the lessons from the Steinlager Pure campaign to my current role at 2degrees. As the third largest telecom company in New Zealand, behind only Vodafone and Spark, we’re challenged to stand out from the crowd. The best way to do this is by taking some risks, even if you don’t necessarily see immediate return. When marketing in the technology space, I’ve learned that it’s best to either keep things very simple or be on the cutting edge with the most advanced technologies, like artificial intelligence.

Many brands try to capitalize on trends in their marketing campaigns, and in 2016, the hot technology trend was Pokémon Go. However, instead of piggybacking on someone else’s idea, our goal was to innovate and create something new. Thus, 2degrees’ Data Hunt game was born.

Launching around the holidays for a three-month period, the Data Hunt campaign scattered virtual data packages across New Zealand for a nationwide scavenger hunt. The offer extended beyond 2degrees customers – anyone can play and will be entitled to keep the data when they join 2degrees. In the end, Data Hunt reached 5 million plays in New Zealand and we gave away 250 million megabytes of data, including a significant percentage to customers of other operators, some of whom switched their service to 2degrees.

The campaign succeeded not just because it capitalized on a popular trend, but because we were able to offer a unique interaction that forged a personal connection between customers and our brand. Like the Air New Zealand and Steinlager campaigns, these initiatives combined creativity and special attention to the individual customer to make an impact.

These are models that any business in any part of the world can follow to achieve similar success in their own marketing. And, as we know very well here in New Zealand, innovation is about making the most of what you have.

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About Roy Ong

Roy Ong is Chief Marketing Officer at 2degrees Mobile, a New Zealand-based mobile and broadband network provider. He has over 20 years of marketing strategy, market research and marketing communications experience from roles in the telecommunications and consumer products industry.

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