From Asia with Love

Dear Global CMO,

Hope you’re well. I’m sure you’re surprised to receive a note from me, as this is the first time I’m sending you a direct message. My previous attempts of communicating through your hierarchy didn’t succeed and hence I’m taking this one last chance. It’s important for you to hear from me directly rather than through the filters of your colleagues and agencies. I just want to ask four simple questions and express my feelings. I do hope you will find time to read my short note and respond some point in time.

Is marketing a new name for hunting?
I get viewed as a “thing” to be targeted and captured from masses of people that you can audience. Your brand managers describe me in such a way that I have nothing better to do in life but to buy your brands. In fact they seem to think that your brands are my raison d’être. I hate being bombarded with meaningless ads across different mediums but your brands continue to push them. I hate being ambushed when I’m relaxing and there is no respect my privacy. For years I was getting stalked on the web but now I get stalked in my private zones like Facebook. How would you feel if I land up in your house uninvited and start throwing things around on your walls?

Am I really the boss?
I keep hearing that you (and many of your peers) talk about a philosophy of “Consumer is Boss.” I wonder whether you really mean that or it is just a poster statement. I seldom get treated like a boss. Whenever I highlight my problems, which I often do it via social media, I get a very standard response of “we’re looking into the issue and we’ll get back to you shortly.” Sometimes I don’t even get a response. Whenever I call your customer service hotlines, they keep me on hold for a long time and it becomes very difficult to reach a human voice. Do your brand managers behave in the same manner with their internal bosses?

Is Asia important to you?
I keep hearing Asia is the most important geography for your company and we’re the future. I wonder how much time and effort your global team dedicates to understanding our aspirations and expectations better. Based on what I have observed I have a lot of questions. How many times do you visit Asia? And do you get to meet some real people who buy your brands rather than some organized visits? When was the last time you stood at a retail counter on your own without getting it organized? If we’re the future and the most important geography, why are you still sitting in United States or Europe? And why on earth do you keep launching products and services in the U.S. and then roll them out in Asia after a couple of years?

Do you really want to connect?
I watch TV shows but don’t watch them on TV. I see them on my mobile or on my laptop. I read news but don’t touch the newspaper very often. I listen to radio but it comes to me through the Internet. I have over 1,000 people on my Facebook and equal number of people on my LinkedIn and other social networks. I no longer remember phone numbers or have them in analog format. Thanks to technology I can have parallel conversations with my buddies and I’m not really constrained to spend my time with only one person. I always pay attention to avatars before making friends. I keep very cool avatars and I expect my friends to have even cooler avatars. I don’t want to be seen in company of “Not So Happening People.” Ten years back nobody would have imagined me falling in love over the Internet. I met my boyfriend on Facebook, got to know him well, googled him, checked his reputation through friends. We’re currently living apart but the distance doesn’t seem to matter us as we can see each other through webcam, Facebook, Skype, FaceTime, YouTube, Flickr, IM, and so on. These days it is so easy to start or end a relationship. Even though I’m confident that it will work out for us…sometimes it makes me worried as I recently heard a friend getting divorced through an SMS message.

When there is irritation or joy in my life… I broadcast it to my social network in a matter of seconds. And my broadcast travels from America to Australia and everything in between. I now have digital tools, which can help me impact day-to-day activities in life. And this makes me feel very good about myself as I’m in control as well as contributing to society. I publish two blogs. I write reviews. I comment on products. I send in photo and videos. I broadcast my views. I’m a self-made journalist. And my content has potential of being read by millions of people from all over the world. As a result I’m famous. You can find 100 links when you search me on Google. I don’t think becoming famous is difficult any more and all the people in my digital circle are famous.

If you really want to connect and build a long-term relationship, then you first need to get into my Circle of Trust. Once you’re there…I will introduce to my Circle of Influence. It is that simple.
With love from Asia!

A Passionate Girl who you call Consumer…

((Originally published in ClickZ.Asia on 22 November 2011)