Study of award entries reveals tighter budgets and a struggle to achieve ‘brand purpose’

Warc logoBrands across Asia are being forced to re-think their marketing amid tighter budgets, with greater emphasis now being placed on cheaper channels, according to a new report.

It also revealed that brands, in the race to produce ‘meaningful marketing’, are struggling to link their brand to relevant social issues.

An analysis by ad research firm Warc into submissions for the Warc Prize for Asian Strategy found the number of entries working on budgets of less than US$500,000 almost doubled from 25% to 44%.

In addition, the number with campaigns with more than US$3m to spend plummeted from 26% of entries two years ago to only 9% in 2016.

While sales remained the key aim for marketers, Warc found increasing importance was also being placed on market share and customer gain which it suggested demonstrated that brands are “seeking to hold to their position amid crowded categories and economic headwinds”.

In an illustration of the need for lower cost routes to market, Warc found brands were increasingly striving to earn media, with 53% of entries citing PR as a soft metric, up from 20% in 2015.

Content marketing, which Warc said has traditionally “lagged behind” western markets, has also grown in significance. One in five campaigns used it as their lead media channel, up from 4% last year.

And while TV remained the most popular lead channel, it fell 9% from 2015 with video climbed to 10%.

“While the data doesn’t confirm a direct correlation, online video is a more cost effective medium for marketers across the region to offer TV-style creative on more limited budgets,” Warc case study editor Lucy Aitken said.

Elsewhere in the research, the firm said it detected a rise in what it described as “meaningful marketing”, or brand purpose, with brands looking to link themselves to worthy issues and “emerging cultural narratives”.

The trend was particularly evident in India, it found, with the Grand Prix winner – Ariel Matic’s Share the Load campaign which addressed the changing role of women –  among those looking to tackle societal issues.

However, Warc warned the trend for brand purpose “may have reached saturation point” with some brands struggling to connect core brand values to relevant issues.

“Judges warned that marketers must ensure that the purpose they align themselves with is a good fit and gels with the brand promise,” the report said.

India also saw a surge in campaign entries with digital components, reflecting the rise in Internet penetration and growing use of social media.


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