The role of the marketer is shifting in real-time to sit at the hinge between economic and social trends. This chance is fresh on Bhaskar Choudhuri’s mind as he builds the Lenovo brand across the Asia Pacific region.
He is fresh from re-launching its gaming computer Legion brand in the region, with an anchor around the major investment into the burgeoning eSports community.
Choudhuri explains that with the APAC eSports community presents a US$66.2bn opportunity, as the region already accounts for more than half of global eSports enthusiasts, it made sense for Lenovo to push this trend. Asia is also the first region globally to recognise eSports as an official sport, he adds.
“We realise that eSports is the biggest driver for PC gaming behaviour. As such, we want to work closely with gamers themselves to bolster the gaming ecosystem in Asia - whether it’s by providing best-in-class experiences and devices, supporting our fans’ favourite teams, or offering an eSports tournament platform for aspiring pro gamers, we will be there,” he says.
According to Lenovo, the anchor engagement for this was Legion of Champions (LOC), its annual eSports tournament, while events were also held in Korea, Taiwan and Thailand and amplified via digital channels.
“LOC is our way of reaching out to and displaying our commitment to the Asia Pacific gaming community in real life – providing gamers with a high-profile platform to gather, compete and network with other like-minded enthusiasts and experts, learn from them and even give a preview to alternate career options in gaming, like that of a 'gamecaster'. This is in line with Lenovo Legion’s central tenet of “engaging” with the community and building Legion together. For example, to design its latest product portfolio, Lenovo engaged 700+ gamers around the world for their feedback, with the aim to meet their evolving needs and offer them amazing experiences.
"Given the relative niche status of gaming, it affords us the opportunity to work closely with the community and influencers and build a brand in a manner quite different from traditional brand building. As a passionate marketer who has now spent over half a decade with Lenovo, it is refreshing for me to see how closely we have been able to work with the gaming community and turn those actual insights into a successful brand and innovations,” he explains.
Taking a different approach is key, according to Choudhuri, as focusing on effective marketing, versus just striving to find efficiencies, is a more sustainable approach to marketing. He says the pressure that a marketer now has to deliver on board-level objectives is tough because marketers tend to have relatively short tenures. This puts pressure to deliver quickly, which is often why marketers seek efficiencies, as that’s quicker to do and to prove. It also leads people to lean too far towards digital, where a mixed media approach will deliver better effectiveness in the end.
“When we are being challenged on our effectiveness and our efficiency, unfortunately, most of us are trying to justify it in the form of efficiency, and we are missing the bigger picture on effectiveness and that brings you to an issue of an all-digital or traditional divide. A lot of us are adopting digital, almost as a short route, because at least I don't have to rack my brains, and I don't have to face uncomfortable questions. This is easier to answer, this is in black and white, take it or leave it,” he says.
He says that some of the fundamentals of marketing is being ignored by short-termism and therefore marketers are ignoring some of the insights that can be gleaned by mixed-modelling.
“Marketing used to stand on three pillars, all fundamental texts on marketing allude to the three pillars of segmentation, targeting and positioning. It's really a tragedy of our times that marketing is only now defined only by targeting, and 99% of the conversation is happening as to how efficient you can target, how smart are you, how surreptitiously you can target, and your smarts and cunning-ness as a marketer is only getting defined with that. But actually if you take one step back, what makes your brand a brand, what makes it differentiated, this take is actually pushed, and somewhere the big absence of strategy in marketing, and long-term thinking in marketing, whether it's marketing in-house or whether it's an agency structure, is just hitting you in the face. And faced by this barrage of efficiency and effectiveness questions I think we're just, unfortunately, going down the efficiency path and that's getting onto a path of no return,” he argues.
Thinking smarter and about the long-term is where Lenovo realized gaming and eSports could be a good bet. It’s also using the information it’s gathered into its target audience to inform the products it develops. With gaming becoming an increasingly mainstream activity for PC owners, converging that part of someone’s personality (and therefore product needs) into their working persona and everyday life is a long-term strategy for the technology business.
For example, some of the creative on digital will show the day versus night personality of a legion owner.
“Since the first edition of LOC in 2017, the number of participating markets has nearly doubled from six to 11. We’ve also seen consumer engagement continue to grow, with our live stream viewers more than tripling from 200,000 at the first LOC to nearly 900,000 at LoC III. This year’s live stream was also broadcasted concurrently in three different languages – Thai, Korean and English.
“Although the Legion brand is only two years young, we’ve already seen significant growth, becoming one of the top three gaming PC brands in Hong Kong, Vietnam and Indonesia. In our last fiscal year, we were also named the top gaming laptop brand in Malaysia, top gaming desktop brand in Thailand and fastest growing gaming vendor in Taiwan and Vietnam. While the short-term returns have been very encouraging, we remain committed to a longer-term journey on creating a differentiated brand for the avid gamers," he says.
As for how this will progress, the brand is building an online community to encourage 24/7 engagement around this topic, while building out online tournaments. The brand will also likely take the brand out to conventions around the region, as well as look at partnerships and collaboration with relevant players, such as Dorna, Ubisoft, Corsair, Asetek and others.
Find about how other marketers are adapting their role for the future on The Drum's Marketer of the Future hub.