Top 5 Trends Marketers in Asia Should Expect in 2023

Five marketing trends in Asia to help position brands for uncommon growth this year.

In 2022, companies faced rising costs, continued supply chain challenges, and lasting COVID repercussions, especially with Asia’s more cautious reopening. Despite these challenges, brands found novel ways to adapt to rising trends; creating new products and experiences to surprise and delight their consumers. They reimagined offline experiences, ventured into the Metaverse, and redefined standards for ESG.  

Looking ahead to 2023, we foresee continued pressure for businesses and marketers to perform in the face of sustained uncertainties. But we also see more opportunities for brands to rethink their offerings, double down on customer centricity, and build relevance that lasts – for customers and employees alike. 

Below, we share our thoughts on five trends for marketers to keep in mind as we head into 2023. 

1. Expanding the Scope of the CMO 

The role of the CMO and their team will continue to shift as marketing evolves from a predominantly creative function to an increasingly data-driven one. Effective marketing now requires an increased focus on data-driven decision-making, using analytics and insights to understand customer needs and preferences to develop targeted campaigns that reach the right audience at the right time.  

The proliferation of new technologies has opened up a wide range of opportunities and challenges for marketers. However, to gain the lead, marketers must hone their skill sets and strengthen their analytical wheelhouse as their MarTech stack is growing ever larger and more complex.  

With this expanded remit also comes the need for even closer collaboration between marketing and other departments within the organization. For Matt Che, CMO of Budweiser APAC, a close partnership with the commercial team has been critical to the company’s success in Asia: “It’s important to align across marketing and sales teams on what long-term success looks like as well as what challenges might arise in the short term. Collaborating with sales allows us to better identify commercial realities such as pricing, competition, and potential cannibalization within our portfolio.”  

As brands continue pushing for customer-centricity, marketing can continue to elevate the voice of the customer across all areas of the business to drive uncommon growth. 

2. Building Purpose-Led Brands 

Across all industries, a commitment to ESG is becoming expected, if not demanded, by stakeholders. Consumers, employees, and investors are coming from all angles to hold companies to higher standards, expecting not simply a verbal commitment to ESG but tangible policies and practices that reflect these values. Consumers are increasingly choosing companies that take a stand on issues they care about, with 86% expecting CEOs to speak out on societal issues, according to Edelman. Internally, employees are seeking employers who align with their values, and investors are putting record-breaking amounts of capital behind companies prioritizing ESG. More than ever, marketers must strive to build purpose-led brands that translate aspirational visions into pragmatic strategies that contribute to a more sustainable future. 

As an early adopter of sustainable product design and supply chain management, consumer electronics leader ASUS has long been a champion of ESG principles. To further solidify its leadership in this area, the company had been exploring how to make ESG not just an initiative, but a central pillar of future strategic growth. Prophet was tasked with turning ASUS’s ESG strategy into a narrative that could be communicated to both internal and external stakeholders. Our team delivered a comprehensive ESG brand strategy that included a messaging framework, activation ideas, and creative assets to bring the ESG strategy to life, allowing the brand to socialize its core principles effectively and ensure cohesion with the overall brand strategy across both internal and external stakeholders. This ESG strategy was officially launched in the recent ASUS CES 2023 launch event. 

3. Deepening Post-Purchase Experiences 

As marketers are well aware, the customer journey does not end when a purchase is made. To adapt a true customer-centric mindset, brands must not only convince consumers to choose them, but also pay attention to how their customers use their product or service. As customer acquisition costs continue to rise and channel fragmentation intensifies, customer retainment has become an increasingly important growth driver for brands. Holistic customer experience, particularly when it comes to post-purchase engagement, must not be overlooked. In Southeast Asia, nearly 90% of consumers were more enticed to shop somewhere with a loyalty program. In China, we’ve seen an opportunity gap for marketers to focus more on customer lifetime value to find more sustainable and long-term growth, based on findings from Prophet’s latest research “Brand and Demand Marketing: A Love Story.”  

Many leading brands have started taking steps. Outdoor apparel company, The North Face, wanted to redefine how to deliver its XPLR Pass loyalty program in Greater China to drive higher engagement with Chinese members. The company saw an opportunity to expand the types of benefits provided, going beyond solely monetary rewards to better reflect the brand DNA and further differentiate itself from competitors. As part of the Greater China loyalty program revamp, Prophet developed a unique positioning for XPLR Pass and defined key strategic metrics, data strategy and engagement tactics. This work sets the foundation for the revamped loyalty program to be a key pillar of future growth for the brand in that market. 

4. Meeting Customer Needs Through Demand Landscape Mapping 

Consumers today have access to more information at their fingertips than ever before, making them increasingly sophisticated and discerning shoppers across all categories. As a result, customer segments are becoming more diverse and complex as well, with more variance in mindsets and behaviors. For instance, Asia consumers tend not to be pure luxury shoppers, with 82% of Korean respondents and 72% of Chinese respondents stating that they like to mix and match across premium and mass brands. To develop a brand and product portfolio to meet the nuanced needs of their target audience, brands can leverage demand landscape mapping to understand both where to play and how to win. 

Prophet worked with a leading beverage company to develop its China portfolio strategy based on demand landscape. The company had several local and global brands in the market but wanted to more clearly define the roles of key brands and their anchored demand spaces. By combining quantitative data analysis with strategic insights, Prophet mapped its existing brands to high-value demand opportunities – i.e., specific consumer segment, occasion and drinking needs, as well as identifying key whitespace opportunities for innovation. We further developed clear portraits of priority consumer segments, including holistic understanding of their social context, personal motivations, and lifestyle, enabling the company to better activate the portfolio and brand strategies.  

5. Driving Growth From Within Through Cultural Transformation  

As mentioned previously, workers are increasingly making it a priority to choose an employer that aligns with their values. Organizations know the importance of developing internal branding and communications that are consistent with the external brand, but there’s more work to be done. By taking steps to actively understand and address the needs of their workforce, companies can drive cultural transformation from within. Engaged employees are more likely to be productive, innovative, and collaborative: Within the same organization, highly engaged business units can result in a 23% difference in profitability. In East Asia especially, only 17% of employees report feeling engaged at work (compared with 21% globally) highlighting an opportunity for firms to look inward and close the gap. Whether it’s revamping the company’s values, investing in employee learning and development or driving better collaboration, an engaged workforce is the fuel for a brand’s growth engine. 

Polestar, an electric performance car brand, had aggressive global growth aspirations, with plans to add 50 new spaces and over 700 new employees. With this rapid expansion in mind, ensuring that customer-facing staff were equipped to deliver a consistent customer experience was key. Polestar tasked Prophet with developing a clear customer experience strategy that covered recruitment, training, service, and operations. Prophet created a training curriculum, including eLearning modules, live training events, and self-study exercises, which covered how to tell the brand story, how to respond to customer scenarios, and role-specific guidelines. Prophet’s successful training program resulted in high participation and engagement rates, equipping and enabling customer-facing teams at Polestar to deliver a consistent and differentiated customer experience. 

This article was originally published on MARKETING-INTERACTIVE. 


The game of marketing means always looking ahead to anticipate not only customer needs but also macrotrends, market shifts, and industry changes. Marketers that are able to think proactively, invest pragmatically, and collaborate effectively with their peers will be well-positioned to unlock uncommon growth for their brands in 2023.

Gen Z Revealed:

6 Myths Busted

Gen Z is the target customer of the moment. Though it feels like every brand is out to win them over, too many brands miss the mark when it comes to serving this generation. Prophet set out to understand the truth behind Gen Zs preferred DTC brands and what’s driving their purchasing decisions. Our latest report busts six myths about how to win with this demographic: 


Gen Z reveals the motivations driving purchasing decisions by responding to six myths.

Gen Z is screen-time savvy.

Gen Z prefers authentic creators over influencers, and they like to be the creators themselves.

Gen Z is respectfully outspoken about important issues but avoids face-to-face confrontation in daily life.

Gen Z uses both digital and in-store channels to get what they need.

Gen Z invests in its passions and saves on everything else.

Gen Z feels they compromise their values to purchase more practical options.

Gen Z has at least $360 billion in disposable income, a number that is only growing as they enter the workforce and advance their careers, according to Gen Z Planet. They are quickly becoming the driving force of the consumer market today. 


1. The factors shaping Gen Z shopping behaviors   

2. Six myths impacting what Gen Z cares most about and their buying motivations  

3. Best-in-class examples of brands winning with Gen Z   

4. Actionable steps to reach Gen Z using the DTC Trifecta: Content, community and commerce 

Prophet works with leading DTC companies in establishing and optimizing winning consumer strategies. Whether that’s launching a DTC brand from concept through launch, or updating customer acquisition and retention strategies or expanding into new categories – Prophet is a growth and transformation partner with deep expertise in DTC and all things Gen Z.

Check out the full list of ways we can help your DTC business grow.

Gen Z Revealed: 6 Myths Busted

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Thank you for your interest in Prophet’s research!


Brand and Demand: A New Love Language 

Amid economic uncertainties, successful CMOs say they are developing three new types of marketing fluency.

Whether the economy is heading toward a recession (or already in one), chief marketing officers know their budgets are under intense scrutiny. Our work with CMOs around the world reveals that the most successful marketing execs aren’t just defending budgets. They’re also meeting this moment with new ways of making marketing more effective, translating their efforts into terms and metrics better understood throughout the organization. They’re integrating marketing into more functions. And they’re adapting new languages to drive uncommon growth and business impact through the economic fog. 

In recent conversations with CMOs, we found some common threads on how they are having conversations with their executive teams and driving impact for their organizations. Here are three trends we expect to see more of, especially as the prospect of economic uncertainty means more scrutiny on every marketing investment.  

CMO’s Are Learning One Another’s Love Language 

Okay, it’s not the love languages from those internet quizzes. There are no acts of service, quality time or physical touch. But marketers are finding ways to balance their demand and brand marketing efforts while applying it to business outcomes. The most successful marketing organizations have turned brand and demand, often an antagonistic relationship, into the ultimate power couple.  

Prophet’s recent report shows how they’ve overcome residual antagonism. They are building novel bridges between brand, to drive awareness and build equity and demand or performance marketing, to drive immediate conversion. And in doing so, they’re tapping new growth opportunities. 

Our research finds that the most successful marketers map their brand and demand marketing objectives against shared business outcomes. They integrate planning cycles and share capabilities across brand and demand to maximize marketing budgets over the entire customer journey. They don’t pick between brand or demand. They ensure the two approaches work in concert to deliver shared outcomes. 

Integrating brand campaigns more tightly into the demand function is a good way for marketers to have their cake and eat it too. Aligning brand with demand allows marketers to demonstrate ROI to the C-Suite while also delivering against both functions. 

For those from the brand side, a different vocabulary is required, as marketing is increasingly seen as a revenue driver–not a cost center. Successful marketers are learning the language of the boardroom. They’ve got to replace words like funnels, impressions or brand value with the language of ROI. And it means using proof of impact that meets the C-suite acid test for business impact: Did it increase revenue or not? 

Saying “No” Will Become More Powerful in the Next Planning Cycle 

The current inflationary pressure means marketers have to say “no” more often.  

But rather than feeling discouraged by having to do so, many say they are learning to enjoy that little word more than they expected. It’s empowering them to mothball tactics without proven ROI. And it’s giving them more authority to demand results from their teams and channel partners. By turning thumbs down on the many small investments brands typically make just to “have a presence” or “keep an oar in,” they tell us they’re focusing on the most proven channels. They’re not abandoning the small strategic bets needed to keep their test-and-learn culture thriving, but they are becoming more disciplined about how they are funded. 

CMO’s Are Becoming Integrators Across Many Functional Areas 

Just as they are coming together to integrate their brand and demand functions to unite around a unified business objective, CMOs are emerging as integrators across different functions. That could mean working closely with human resources and developing an employee value proposition for recruiting or it means recognizing that marketing can–and should–take a leadership role in integrations to build organizational culture. 

Breaking down silos is hard work and requires an integrated marketer to lead the charge. The individual filling this role should be a more seasoned marketing professional with the ability to work cross-functionally. And they must be willing to roll up their sleeves and get into the nooks and crannies of the business, immersing themselves in the customer journey in new and different ways. Marketing leaders should be looking to build proactive connections with their colleagues across human resources, product, sales and IT to deliver cross-functional business impact. This integrator mindset will allow them to not only work in lockstep with other business units but if done well, help to uncover untapped pockets of demand.  

Integrating multiple brands and teams requires a cross-functional marketing technology stack, of course. But genuine integration requires a deeper commitment. Many companies have charged people throughout the marketing organization with specific responsibilities to make sure plans are holistic and well-integrated. Others rely on integrative processes, constantly organizing new pods and tiger teams to solve challenges. 

Putting Your New Love Language Into Practice 

For many, the annual planning season is either underway or right around the corner. This is a great reminder to be mindful and refine the language you are using as a marketing leader.  In a recent blog, we wrote about how to modernize the marketing planning cycle. Some questions to consider as you reimagine your approach to your annual marketing plans:   

  • What are the business objectives for your next planning cycle?  
  • Is it clear how marketing directly contributes to those objectives?  
  • Does your organization have an aligned taxonomy around objectives and activities?  
  • How are you measuring success for brand and marketing initiatives investments?  
  • Are those metrics understood across brand and demand teams? Or are those metrics creating siloes between them?  
  • Are those metrics enabling marketing to have a “seat at the table”? Or are those metrics creating distance with other executives/board? 

Download this worksheet to begin mapping your plan to business outcomes. 


To navigate economic challenges, CMOs are using their voices differently. They’re learning to speak a common marketing language. They are saying `no’ more often, with profound growth implications. And they are focusing on a new kind of organizational fluency, integrating marketing throughout multiple functions. Doing so allows them to play a proactive role in figuring out new audiences, leading to rich areas of growth. 

Ready to put your new love language into practice? Contact our team today.


Marrying Brand and Demand Marketing to Drive Sustainable Growth in China 

To break through the crowded and cutthroat landscape of consumer brands in China, marketers must not only drive brand growth but also build lasting brand love.

According to an alarming statistic from market research firm Kantar, 74% of consumer goods startups in China were eliminated after their first three years of operation. Brands are struggling with how to sustain growth in the face of increasingly sophisticated yet “disloyal” consumers while growing competition is being exacerbated by an expansion of channels and consumer data. Meanwhile, a higher level of accountability is expected of marketers. Therefore, marketers today are under intense pressure to make every dollar count, prove returns and drive impact.  

In Prophet’s latest report, “Brand and Demand Marketing: A Love Story,” we examined how marketers can use both brand and demand marketing to achieve their short and long-term objectives and maximize marketing ROI. Below, we share our learnings from across the globe as well as important nuances for Chinese marketers, unveiling the key to building sustainable brands through balancing brand and demand marketing efforts. 

Brand and Demand Opportunities Throughout the Customer Journey 

Brand marketing typically describes efforts to drive awareness of and preference for a company, product or service, while demand marketing seeks to compel audiences to act immediately (e.g., purchase, click on an offer, sign up for a newsletter). Many marketing organizations experience significant tension between brand building and demand generation – a tension we believe undercuts growth and harms performance.  

Prophet introduces the brand and demand maturity model. It lays out an actionable roadmap for how different stages of a customer journey may lean more on brand or demand. But the opportunity is to always show collective value for each moment. 

Hungry for Growth but Missing Out on CLV 

When asked about their prioritized business objectives, Chinese marketers demonstrate remarkably expansionary mindsets, especially when compared with other regions. They pursue new segments, new business, increased shares and are full of ambitions to expand their reach. However, they tend to focus less on levers that drive CLV (Customer Lifetime Value), such as increasing sizes of orders and repurchase rates. 

Top Priorities in the Past 12 Months

Q: Which of the following business objectives, if any, were the top three priorities for your company in the past 12 months? (Rank 1 results) 

This mentality is likely driven by the fact that marketing teams in Chinese companies tend to shoulder more growth-driven accountability than the average global marketers, with twice the amount of involvement in near-term P&L management, revenue growth and operations. 

This propensity is also evident in the top KPIs Chinese marketers focus on when measuring the success of their marketing campaigns. They are significantly more likely than their global peers to track return on advertising spend (ROAS) and revenue generated, while less likely to consider brand awareness, brand preference and CLV among their top three metrics.  

Top Performance Metrics for Marketing Campaigns 

Q: Which of the following are the top five metrics your company tracks performance of marketing campaigns against? (Rank 1, 2 and 3 results) 

In keeping with the whole customer decision journey, we believe that they place a narrow focus on the left side of the model – persuading customers to choose and buy – while ignoring the enormous potential of the entire CLV contained on the right side of the model – the ownership journey.  

For many of China’s fastest-growing new consumer brands, for example, repurchases, referrals and brand communities are largely being driven by transactional benefits (e.g., free gifts, cash back or steep discounts), instead of brand understanding and advocacy. This is fundamentally still a demand-led approach that is unsustainable in the long term.  

As a next step, in addition to the buying experience and short-term conversion, Chinese marketers should extend CX excellence to the ownership journey to maximize CLV. Meanwhile, a more holistic set of metrics should be used to assess impact and success across all activities and tactics.  

Taking Brand Marketing to the Next Level 

Chinese marketers are particularly skilled at demand generation and have created a variety of effective tactics (private traffic activation, KOL/KOC matrix, etc.) to attract customers. Most new consumer brands succeed by leveraging short-term demand generation tools (e.g., low prices, viral products).  

On the other hand, the explore and advocacy stages, where brand marketing initiatives should take the lead, tend to be undervalued. Brands rarely give consumers the opportunity to actively engage and resonate with the brand’s point of view, story and value proposition. Thus, the customer retention rate fueled by recognition and loyalty is unable to increase due to a lack of brand pull.  

Despite the difficult nature of balancing brand and demand efforts, we’ve highlighted a few examples below of consumer brands in China that are standing out in a highly competitive market by excelling in explore and advocacy. 

PMPM: Attracting New Customers Through an Inspirational Brand Story

(Image source)  

While the beauty industry has long relied on hero products, startup skincare brand PMPM is built on a distinct emotional foundation that speaks to consumer truths. Through a clearly defined value proposition, “spirit of exploration,” PMPM focuses on creating high-quality products with natural ingredients sourced from around the world. The brand’s latest promotional video spotlights its founding team of accredited skincare researchers and beauty experts, telling an inspirational story of the brand’s determination to create a Chinese-born, world-class skincare brand in the next decade. 

Manner: Engaging a Loyal Customer Base Through Shared Values 

(Image source: social media) 

Manner initially won over customers by offering inexpensive but quality coffee to increasingly caffeine-addicted Chinese urbanites and office workers. As the first Chinese coffee brand to introduce the idea of “BYO reusable cup for a 5 RMB discount,” Manner solidified its economic and eco-conscious positioning. Through quality products and a seamless CX that includes mobile order-ahead, repurchase rates increased steadily, and a strong base of loyal customers followed.  

Manner’s additional sustainability and customer engagement efforts, such as giving away branded reusable canvas bags for its 6-year anniversary, have turned customers into eager brand advocates. Compared with other brands in the category that are still trapped in creating complicated pricing schemes to acquire new customers, Manner has moved away from reaping price advantages by connecting with consumers’ values and lifestyles, thus creating a higher and more sustainable CLV. 

Key Takeaways for Marketers in China 

With customer journeys becoming increasingly complex, non-linear and hyper-personalized, the real challenge today is not acquiring new customers, but keeping them.

To wrap up, these are our takeaways for building an evergreen Chinese brand by balancing brand and demand: 

  • Think beyond short-term growth to adopt a broadened and balanced lens for execution and measurement. 
  • CX is not limited to the buying journey. Carefully consider how to optimize the ownership journey as well to fully activate CLV. 
  • Dynamically balance demand and brand across the entire customer decision journey while further increasing branding efforts – particularly in brand exploration and advocacy – to cultivate lasting brand love.


To break through the crowded and cutthroat landscape of consumer brands in China, marketers must not only drive brand growth but also build lasting brand love. Brand and demand marketing have distinct roles throughout the customer journey, but combined, their effect is amplified.

For more insights on how to unleash their power, check out Prophet’s latest report, Brand and Demand Marketing: A Love Story.


5 Elements Required to Secure Your 2023 Marketing Budget

During times of uncertainty, it’s important your marketing strategies and spend are aligned with business outcomes.

During recessionary times, marketing is often one of the first disciplines needing to evolve and adjust spending. As you enter 2023 planning, you should be prepared to have to make a case for the budget you will need to drive key business outcomes.  

For savvy marketers, this doesn’t mean shutting off in-flight brand and marketing strategies in service of demand generation. Instead, it means strategically aligning marketing activity to business outcomes and articulating the value in terms that resonate with non-marketing leaders—including the board of directors.   

To help you get started, we’re sharing our five critical elements needed to make a case for your 2023 marketing budget.  

Know Your Baseline  

Performance dashboards are often a wise first point of entry for data-minded marketing leaders looking to show real-time insights and build transparency across business verticals and disciplines. At their most robust, such dashboards can bring value across the business by providing a single view of the customer across sales, product and marketing.   

As a starting place, you should have a consolidated understanding of topline metrics that can empower and facilitate discussion around performance and the next best action, which should connect the marketing activity with business outcomes. A data baseline builds accountability and can relieve concerns regarding marketing efficacy. While it may seem obvious in theory, this level of reporting is rarer than one might think.  

When you align marketing activity with business performance, you empower your partners and teams by efficiently attributing c-suite level metrics. Holding companies and traditional media agencies may not be equipped to discuss the possibility of recessionary budget cuts – primarily because many agencies do not align brand spend with business outcomes. At Prophet, we do things a bit differently. As a growth-minded consultancy, we help our clients connect the dots between business objectives and marketing planning, customer metrics and in-flight marketing results.  

Make the Business Case  

From our recent global research, “Brand and Demand Marketing: A Love Story,” we learned that marketers in the most successful businesses are more likely to cite “customer lifetime value” as a key marketing objective. Whereas, within lower-performing businesses, marketers are more likely to focus on tactic-level measurements, such as “enhancing digital marketing support” and “coordination with channel partners.” While the latter are critical operational goals, they are less growth-oriented and trickier to connect to customer relevancy and business outcomes.  

When making a case for your 2023 marketing budget, ensuring your objectives and the funding needed to execute quantifies the impact on the business will lead to a more successful outcome.  

Developing a marketing budget that delivers a measurable ROI requires a holistic understanding of the business and your customers. Once you have accomplished this, you can map your spending to in-market marketing tactics.  

As you develop a proactive business case for your customer-centric marketing budget, there are three primary areas you should focus on:   

  1. Budget Benchmarking: Your c-suite will not always understand the importance of investing in brand and demand marketing, especially during a recession. To help you justify your budget, you should leverage competitor research to build your budget benchmarks.
  2. Agile Strategic Planning: Building a marketing budget requires investment in off-cycle marketing strategy and planning. Marketers will benefit from correlating their strategies with revised strategic business goals, especially as operating climates and customer needs evolve.
  3. Aligning Marketing and Business Goals: You should ensure your KPIs roll up to topline corporate metrics. We believe this means aligning budgets toward a closer marriage of brand and marketing spend, or what we lovely call at Prophet “performance branding.”  

Benchmarks for Everyone  

You must translate marketing performance into a simple language centered on business outcomes so your C-suite colleagues can understand the impact you can make with the right budget. Benchmarks provide the necessary context on what key metrics mean regarding marketing efficiency and effectiveness and opportunity.   

Finance leaders will want to know how the return on marketing spend compares against peers through the campaign, channel and partner analysis. Sales leaders are concerned with how marketing-owned activities have contributed to revenue generation and how those efforts stack up against industry competitors. Colleagues of all functional areas are interested in marketing insights that identify competency and performance and product gaps and how marketing addresses those opportunity areas.   

A thoughtful spectrum of benchmarks focused on industry and out-of-category leaders and laggards can highlight specific improvement areas where business contributions may be trailing average and high performers.    

Optimize for Agility  

As businesses pivot to accommodate changing economic trajectories, so should marketing function. Marketing teams that are organized to perform against an agile strategic plan are best poised to keep up with evolving customer needs. To build an agile strategic plan, you need to map marketing activities to growth objectives. We recommend leveraging a simple taxonomy to ensure marketing teams are in sync with other departments such as finance, sales and leadership.   

For organizations experiencing more fundamental market shifts or disruption, optimization might require a more robust re-evaluation of investment priorities across operating and execution budgets to support the opportunities that will likely make the most business impact. As customer expectations evolve and go-to-market strategies are upended, marketing planning and overarching program spending must adapt accordingly.   

Embrace a Performance Branding Mentality  

Last is the need to marry the art of marketing with the science of topline fiscal reporting. There is a relatively clear correlation between CFO-level metrics and marketing conversion KPIs for late funnel metrics. However, top-of-funnel, traditional marketing-centric tactics and measurement approaches are rarely understood by non-practitioners.   

What do we mean by that? CFOs are unlikely to understand metrics such as impressions or clicks, especially in a constrained or contracting revenue environment. Downturns are not the time to attempt a profound education on the value of these metrics. Instead, we believe it is critical to put marketing success in terms that the CFO (and other C-suites) can understand.  

Taking a performance branding mentality to your budget can collapse the funnel between brand and performance – and maximize efficacy. Traditional approaches to brand marketing allocate limited rigor in managing upper-funnel digital tactics and media.  

In an inflationary environment where every dollar is being counted, you must deploy a clear understanding of your customer behaviors and preferences earlier in the funnel to apply greater precision to brand spend.  

But it’s important to not over-index on metrics like ROI. Instead, you should evaluate leading indicators for revenue that demonstrate marketing’s influence on growth, such as nurture or account-based progression.   

Prophet has an established baseline framework for evaluating marketing spend. This framework helps translate marketing KPIs to business performance metrics, seeking to integrate brand and demand and create clarity of impact across the organization.

While this can vary slightly by industry, rethinking traditional marketing insights to business-level measurements is the first step in substantiating future marketing budgets. The more you can show a linear impact on business growth, the easier it should be to substantiate marketing spend in support of customer outcomes.  


During times of uncertainty, marketers need to align their budgets to business outcomes and effectively communicate the value in terms that resonate with executive leadership teams. To do so, ensure your budget is customer-centric and includes the performance dashboards, benchmarks and agile plans to make the business case.   

Connect with Prophet today to learn how to build a customer-centric 2023 marketing budget that is aligned with your business objectives.


Is There a New Love Story Between Brand and Demand Marketing in Southeast Asia? 

SEA’s exploding e-commerce scene brings to the forefront the balancing act of brand building and demand generation. 

During my recent keynote at DigiBranCon in Kuala Lumpur, I spoke to a congregation of leading marketers on the dichotomy of brand building versus demand marketing. In the post-Covid-19 era, where digital adoption and acceleration changed everything, should you invest more on brand building or demand marketing?  

The Context: Southeast Asia’s Rising Digital Adoption 

Southeast Asia’s massive e-commerce sector is advancing at a rate that is exceeding expectations. There are over 350 million internet users today and close to 10 million more coming online each year. In SEA, the time spent online has already surpassed the time spent watching TV and the online time spent in China and Japan. 

Brands hoping to engage with SEA consumers must keep in mind the mobile-first nature of the market, with high levels of social media usage and influence. Successful brands are already using social as an e-commerce sales channel, catering to a young population with strong consumer ambitions. Established unicorns such as Grab, Lazada, Shopee, InMobi and Tokopedia are investing heavily in digital commerce and beginning to compete with newer, emerging players in the space. 

The digital acceleration that took place during the pandemic invariably led to more brands shifting sales online. While there is a myriad of factors that lead to success or failure, one key consideration is the tension of brand building versus demand marketing.  

Having a brand that stands out in the sea of competition is especially important online. In e-commerce, becoming a preferred brand is even harder yet critical – how do marketers build brand affinity and grow demand? Given most brands in SEA are small to medium-sized enterprises, this can be difficult given the time and financial investment required. As a result, many brands focus on near-term goals, relying on demand marketing for short-term sales and promotions. While this may convince consumers to make impulse purchases or trials, it doesn’t accomplish the longer-term goal of building true brand loyalty. 

Should You Invest in Brand or Demand Marketing? 

If no one knows your brand, your demand generation isn’t going to be as successful as it could be. You need brand awareness for demand generation to work and vice versa. Your brand establishes your legitimacy, creates loyal customer relationships and helps efficiently drive demand. Demand marketing is more about “Why buy one now?” It involves education and highlighting pain points with urgency. Branding is more about “Why buy from us?” It entails building your reputation so that people choose your product to solve that problem – even though there are likely other options.

As marketers, we know brand strategies don’t always directly connect to a sales pipeline, and demand doesn’t always lead to increased awareness in the market. But when the efforts from both sides are designed to complement each other, we’re able to reach a new, unprecedented level of cohesion across the entire marketing program –creating a powerful growth engine that helps us achieve the goals of: 

  • Building preference for your brand and products  
  • Reducing price sensitivity  
  • Nurturing loyal and repeat customers 
  • Saving costs with improved operational efficiencies 
  • Creating a sustainable revenue stream
  • Higher effectiveness and ROI with our marketing investment  

Prophet’s approach to brand and demand marketing is grounded in recognizing that there is a better way to engage with modern audiences, which is especially meaningful in SEA. It is a sustained, integrated approach that continuously engages with audiences inside and outside the marketing funnel in a value exchange that drives growth for both the audience and the brand.  

How to Strike the Right Balance?  

Is there a magical ratio between brand to demand? The conventional 60/40 brand/demand investment split is helpful but increasingly outdated and doesn’t accurately reflect what any medium or touchpoint can do. It also depends on the market situation and your business goals – the ratio will and should change at any given time to adapt to competitive environments.  

To be good, we need to do both. But to be great, we need a more intentional, unifying strategy. The ideal state is to develop a long-term strategy across the customer journey to build preference, which helps to achieve faster, short-term quick wins during moments when buyers are more receptive to “demand” campaigns.  

There are four golden rules that we identified in our recent, global research

  1. Build a marketing organization that has the skills and capabilities for both brand and demand, with teams working together against a shared purpose
  2. Design your marketing approaches in an integrated fashion starting with annual planning.
  3. Experimentation leads to success. Build a learning agenda and provide an investment budget.
  4. Track performance and progress with an integrated brand and demand view and laddering up to business goals. 

Through expertise and excellent marketing campaigns, you’ll build relationships that showcase how your product really is better than your competitors, and you’ll have a whole audience of loyal fans to back you up on that. The key lies in regularly fine-tuning your brand-to-demand ratios based on the goals of your brand, the product/campaign and audience response.  

A good example is the regional fashion e-commerce brand, Zalora. When it was still a lesser-known brand, it focused investments on building its brand through traditional and social media marketing across Facebook and search engines. Today, as the brand matures, Zalora invests more heavily in demand marketing through strategic brand partnerships and social commerce, while still investing in data-driven Google ad campaigns.  

Brand and Demand Marketing is the Ideal Couple and Content is a Compelling Aphrodisiac 

As we seek out tactics that will lead us to achieve a proper ratio, there has been a trusted hero of the brand-and-demand approach: Content. If brand and demand are the ideal couple to engage audiences, then content marketing is how we amplify the love story of the couple successfully.  

Experienced marketers know that one asset or social post does not result in a subscriber, let alone generate a lead. Trust takes time to develop, and the consistent cadence and drumbeat of a long-term content effort can help to build and nurture real relationships with audiences.  

Like those addictive Korean drama series, if you can produce a steady stream of engaging and compelling content throughout the customer journey, your audience will be more engaged, and your brand messaging and communication will become more appealing. When this consistent drumbeat aligns with memorable brand campaigns, you build brand recognition and earn loyalty across the marketing funnel. 

Through a strategic storyline approach, brands can extend their master narrative and create meaningful audience interactions throughout the entire funnel, ultimately nurturing prospects to conversion, recommendation and ultimately, loyalty. 

Take the Indonesia-based e-commerce platform, Tokopedia, for example. The brand has embedded K-pop in its marketing content to better target its younger and female segments across Indonesia since 2021. Not only did Tokopedia present K-pop groups BTS and BLACKPINK as the face of the brand, but it also created a long-term content strategy to feature Korean artists in its programs, campaigns and events to drive customer acquisition, engagement and sales. This creates a consistent customer experience, delivering key benefits to the target audience along every step of its customer journey, thereby building brand loyalty. 


During the mobile-first digital age, the new marketing benchmark requires an integrated strategy involving both brand building and demand marketing, calibrated to deliver impact based on the maturity of your brand. A balanced mix of both short- and long-term tactics is key to achieving uncommon growth.

At Prophet, we believe content is where brand meets demand – the sweet spot that fosters brand loyalists and fuels consistent ROI that compounds over time. Brand and demand marketing requires delivering a well-thought-out content strategy and cohesive customer experience. Download our global research report, Brand and Demand Marketing: A Love Story, to learn more.


The Equation for Growth in Healthcare: Customer-Centricity, New Skills and Balancing Brand and Demand

Prophet recently hosted a healthcare leadership roundtable, moderated by John Ellett, focused on driving uncommon growth in healthcare today. Read the takeaways.  

These were the takeaways from Prophet Healthcare’s leadership roundtable, moderated by John Ellett, which focused on driving uncommon growth in healthcare today.  

Attendees included: 

We convene for these discussions a few times a year so leaders from different subsectors and functions can compare notes and share insights. The latest session was all about growth – where it is coming from today, how senior marketers can make it happen and who needs to be on the team.  

Key Takeaways for CMOs and Growth Leaders Across the Healthcare Ecosystem 

Play the Long Game of Innovation 

In healthcare, innovation takes many forms – from new product launches and optimized experiences, to M&A and business model innovation. But no matter the approach, and whether we’re talking about startups or large enterprises, innovation requires both a long-term perspective and a sense of timing. It can take years to develop, say, breakthrough technology, but if the market’s not ready for it, new offerings might not take off.  

Relative to growth, innovation must be viewed in the context of core value propositions, as well as future impacts. That means knowing what really moves the business and understanding what innovation will deliver (e.g., future revenue gains, increased profitability, brand differentiation). The support of senior leadership is key to keeping the organization’s eyes on the prize across long time horizons.  

Solve for Talent 

Executives agree that talent is as important as ever, even as marketing becomes more tech-driven. A few firms were looking for more skilled strategists to set the direction for marketing. But more are looking for tactical and functional expertise to execute growth strategies. There was consensus that “even the best strategy needs worker bees.” Ideally, workers will be self-starters who understand big-picture objectives, think analytically and measure results. As with growth itself, there seems to be no such thing as too much talent. 

Focus on The Perennial Value of Customer-Centricity 

As much as marketing has changed, customers remain the perennial focus. Everyone agrees that customer insights should be the core of all growth strategies. But participants also noted that it’s easier to say “we’re customer-centric” than to integrate the voice of the customer throughout all brand and marketing efforts, especially when targeting new segments. Many felt CMOs are uniquely positioned to maintain the powerful link between such customer-centricity and growth, including building stronger customer communities. In fact, being a “customer advocate” might be the most important responsibility CMOs have. 

Recognize it Takes a Network 

As healthcare leaders face an ever-expanding range of growth possibilities, the importance of internal and external networks grows more important. Asking the right questions of mentors, peers and external advisors is key to staying ahead of important industry developments. Socializing and testing your own vision is just as important. A strong network can certainly provide tips and insights relative to engaging customers in new channels. On a larger scale, they can shed light on how new technologies, ecosystems and partnerships, as well as business models, will impact growth strategies over the longer term.  

Balance Brand and Demand 

Senior marketers and other growth-oriented leaders across industries are trying to balance brand-building and demand generation investments and activities. (Check out Prophet’s blog series on this very hot topic). Demand strategies are easier to measure, a huge advantage in the multi-channel digital world. However, because of the unique nature of healthcare where relationships are at a premium, brands remain critical to building trust with consumers and patients. 

One participant mentioned the classic formula of “40% demand and 60% brand,” but the optimal balance will vary based on an organization’s customer base, growth strategy and market position, among other factors. Because both “brand builder” and “performance marketer” are inherent parts of their job descriptions, CMOs must continue seeking the right balance, and recognize that it will evolve continually along with market conditions.  


From the most effective channels and platforms to new media that might emerge, to new rules for customer engagement, the only thing that seems certain about the future is that CMOs and growth leaders in healthcare will keep watching developments closely and comparing notes with peers and colleagues.  

If you’d like to participate in future healthcare roundtables, please reach out to Paul Schrimpf or John Ellett.  


What Is Digital Convergence?

Digital transformation isn’t about technology. It’s about driving growth through digital convergence.

7 min


Chan Suh, chief digital officer at Prophet, explains how technology has enabled businesses to grow better. However, the businesses that grow best are those that embrace the concept of digital convergence – the approach of orchestrating digital transformation efforts around a singular purpose that has been reimagined for today’s customers and employees. Watch this video to find out what digital convergence looks and – even sounds – like. For more, read this blog post. 


The Business of Marketing

Bonus Episode – Brand & Demand: A Love Story 

20 min


In a bonus episode of AdWeek’s podcast, The Business of Marketing, Senior Partners and co-leads of Prophet’s Marketing & Sales practice Mat Zucker and David Novak discuss their latest global research report, “Brand & Demand Marketing: A Love Story,” with host Toby Daniels.  

Stream the full podcast recording to learn how the most effective organizations build integrated marketing organizations that balance brand and demand marketing and drive uncommon growth.

Stream the episode on Spotify, Apple or Amazon.

You can also download the full research report, Brand & Demand Marketing: A Love Story, here.   


Brand & Demand Marketing: A Love Story  

Watch this short video to learn how to break down silos and turn your departments into growth engines.

1 min


Marketing leaders are under intense pressure to make every dollar count, prove returns and drive impact. That pressure is causing tension between brand marketing and demand generation teams that undercuts growth and harms performance.

Download the full report, Brand & Demand Marketing: A Love Story, to access actionable steps you can take to drive uncommon growth for your marketing organization.


Modernize the Marketing Planning Cycle

Clear your calendar. It’s time to make room for a brand-new approach to annual marketing plans.

The annual marketing planning cycle desperately needs a makeover. Every marketer who has ever groaned, “There has to be a better way to do this!” is right, and the most effective companies are already finding new ways to inject efficiency and effectiveness into a cumbersome process.  

While much of this change has been coming on gradually, changing customer behaviors, increasing demands of marketing within the enterprise and growing opportunities with technology have intensified it. And amid growing business uncertainties–inflation, supply-chain and recession concerns–modern marketers feel an urgency to help drive strategy, not just follow it.  

More and more, marketers are being asked to deliver value that is tied to the overall business outcomes.  

That’s because the customer journey is more complex and less linear every day, highlighting the tension between brand and demand marketing. Our recent research takes an in-depth look at the intersection of these marketing disciplines, tapping the insights of more than 500 marketers. Our findings underscore that an updated approach to planning separates the most successful companies from competitors.  

“Today’s marketers are coxing other execs out of their respective silos, moving to “a more agile, `brains in room’ format,” says Tyrrell Schmidt, CMO, U.S., TD Bank, one of our respondents. “We want to build a structure that puts the customer at the center.” 

And business leaders are learning that while the annual planning process is still way too full of retro drudgery, it’s also full of possibility and potential. Many see it as the most creative endeavor of the year, allowing them to show off the value modern marketing can bring to the enterprise.  

Here are five ways the most effective marketers are reshaping the annual planning process.

Take an Integrated View  

Historically, disparate marketing teams have driven different objectives. Because they’re working separately, they’re not optimized for holistic growth. They’re often not even pointing in the same direction. 

Marketing needs a more integrated process. That requires cooperation among brand, demand and corporate marketing teams so that they find agreement on all-important basics (We’ve covered other planning checklists in The Eight Essentials of a Successful Marketing Plan). 

For starters, these working groups can nail down a common language (“Do we say `initiatives’ or `programs’? `Campaigns’ or `tactics’?”). They can also agree on standard measurements, balancing short and long-term approaches, as well as lagging and leading indicators. And they can establish a set of unified tools, such as an integrated calendar and a single marketing brief. 

Focus on Customers-Not the Funnel

If companies want to be customer-centric in how they market, then they need to be customer-centric in how they plan. Yet too many firms lose sight of the people that matter most. 

Part of that stems from the limits of funnel vision. Yes, marketing funnels are the conventional backdrop for planning and helping identify specific marketing strategies. And we’re not suggesting companies shift from that approach outright.  

But on its own, the funnel does a poor job of coordinating multiple efforts. And by definition, it takes a company or product view. That’s the opposite of customer-centricity. 

A journey view helps assess how to best allocate resources to acquire customers and build loyalty. It also has the added vital benefit of revealing missed opportunities in customer experience. 

We understand the shift from the funnel to a customer-centric journey can be challenging, and many will ask if there’s room for both. Of course, marketers can–and maybe even should–keep the funnel in mind even as they develop the journey view. But ultimately, it’s the customer who makes the purchase, so anticipating their needs and providing the right solutions matter more than anything else. 

Align Under Shared Initiatives

Companies often struggle with overly complicated messaging strategies scattered across multiple product offerings and customer segments. They frequently say they’d like programming with “fewer, bigger, better” ideas but don’t know how to get there. 

It’s complex. Because demand marketing has an expanded role in driving revenue, there’s more pressure to crank out more messages and promotions. That means many competing, overlapping, and siloed marketing initiatives reach customers simultaneously.  

That can be managed better with unified views of calendars, a hierarchy for messages and promotions, and commonly integrated plans. Those all build more alignment and clarify optimal resource allocation during the planning process. This view then carries forward into activation and more frequent re-prioritization that may be needed throughout the year. 

It can also be an important venue to talk about experimentation. Test-and-learn thinking that too often gets left behind in the planning process. Will those NFTs pay off? The storefront in Horizon Worlds? Anamorphic billboards? No one yet knows what kind of return on investment these might have, and they indeed fail the “Bigger, better” test. But fledgling ideas need budgetary support if the organization wants to gain agility and build a marketing edge.  

In our research, we found that Marketers who work for businesses that successfully meet goals cite strategic experimentation as the predominant force behind their investment decision-making – perhaps shifting the mix based on objectives. Compare this to marketers who work for businesses that do not successfully meet goals. They, instead, rely mostly on industry best practices and historical effectiveness to inform their decisions – a more static and unchanging approach. 

Importantly, planning under a unified umbrella provides satisfaction. Teams can walk away knowing how their plans and responsibilities support the greater business objectives. 

Bring the Village

Those shared initiatives require inviting a bigger cast of characters into the planning process. Integrated marketing means inviting more people into the planning meeting. When setting up planning sessions, marketers should reach beyond product and sales to include research and insights, partners and operations. 

However, there’s no one size fits all approach. B2B companies may have to think this through differently, often including sales teams and product leaders even earlier, as part of the bottom-up planning process.  

Regardless, all companies should include as many perspectives as possible while also keeping their customers in mind.  

We recognize that this may bring up concerns about “too many cooks in the kitchen”? You’re not alone. While it can seem clumsy initially, it’s an important first step to being collaborative. The more companies strive to achieve cross-functional consensus, the less “re-work” and pivoting they need later.  

Map to Business Outcomes

Our research finds that marketers who describe their companies as top performers actively align marketing activities and tactics to shared business objectives. While many marketing objectives remain essential to the success of the plan’s performance, this calls for bigger thinking. It connects marketing to the goals of other stakeholders in the firm and functions far beyond their own. 

The first step is to decide on those “no-regrets” business opportunities and align the most supportive marketing strategies. Many start with a worksheet that looks like this: 

Download the Mapping Marketing Tactics to Shared Business Objectives Worksheet.


The shift toward integrated, customer-centric planning requires weeks if not months of new kinds of preparation. That can include new journey maps and competitive intelligence.

But the pay-off is well worth it. Integrated marketing allows a company to develop a modern approach that connects brand to demand. And ultimately, it serves customer needs better, improves execution and leads to uncommon growth. 

Ready to reimagine your 2023 marketing planning process? Get in touch with our marketing and sales team today.


Brand and Demand Marketing: A Love Story 

It’s time for brand and demand to stop competing – because together, they are the ultimate power couple to build relevance and unlock uncommon growth.

Today’s marketing organizations are experiencing tension between brand marketing and demand generation – a tension that undercuts growth and harms performance.  

But it’s time for brand and demand teams to stop thinking in silos and instead, work together in harmony on a shared agenda.  

To learn how the most effective organizations balance brand and demand we interviewed 10 senior marketing executives and surveyed 500+ global marketing and advertising leaders for our report: Brand and Demand Marketing: A Love Story.  

Key Takeaways

In our research, we uncovered the factors influencing investment decisions and operating model setup. We also looked for ways the best marketers measure the success of brand and demand. 

We found that the most effective marketers follow four common principles:  

  • Anchor Marketing Investment in Business Objectives 
  • Experiment to Win 
  • Build a Modern Marketing Organization 
  • Put the Customer at the Center

Brand and Demand Marketing: A Love Story 

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