Calling all brand specialists

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 31 January, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 31 January, 2004, 12:00am

Both Hong Kong and mainland companies are urgently seeking professionals to help them market and sell their products

To take a brand from being unknown to a household name requires a good product, a huge marketing effort and a superb marketing team.

Branding continues to grow in importance, and both Hong Kong and mainland companies are urgently calling for professionals to create successful stories.

'There is an increasing demand for marketing/branding executives,' said Hong Kong Institute of Marketing vice-chairman Yim Kai-ming, who runs his own marketing consultancy firm, Inno:solutions. 'China is now literally the biggest factory in the world, housing thousands of different factories.'

These factories are now trying to change from focusing solely on manufacturing and exporting, to marketing and selling their products.

'They are keen to brand their products and add value to the process, which eventually makes most of the money.'

Professional experience from branding experts is essential, as branding requires an entirely different perspective from manufacturing.

Mr Yim, a marketing veteran with more than 22 years in the profession, said: 'I do not think we have enough good marketing people in the field.

'Branding and marketing people's key objective is to inspire consumers to buy - it involves a deep understanding of consumer psychology to determine the right positioning and design an attractive package and promotion to get consumers to buy.

'Though there are several successful China-based brands in the market right now, such as TCL, Haier and Skyworth, we need more.

'Manufacturers cannot use their own competencies to build a brand from zero.'

Manufacturers are now being encouraged to seek professional advice for this purpose.

'It is quite common for the Chinese to be uninterested in involving outside professionals. They often seek professional help at the last minute, which does not allow enough time for branding success,' Mr Yim said.

In addition to the increasing demand for branding specialists from local-based corporations, more global brands are calling for professional marketers when it comes to penetrating the China market.

Another reason Hong Kong marketing professionals are in such demand is that China has not yet produced a sufficient number of marketing professionals to cope with the increasing demands.

Almost every corporation has its own marketing team. As marketing work becomes more complex, corporations may employ external consultants to help manage their brands. A world-class brand manager might look after several markets or territories at a time.

'Key performers will gradually be promoted with additional responsibilities,' Mr Yim said. 'They can be promoted to managerial level within seven years.'

Marketing professionals should equip themselves with substantial exposure in sales.

'Marketing and sales require two different sets of training,' Mr Yim said.

'However, the skills and knowledge are interchangeable. It is essential to equip people with good knowledge of both sides for further career enhancement within an organisation.'