CMO50 #24: Nick Reynolds, Lenovo
The strategic aim of any CMO should be building a world-class brand, Lenovo’s marketing chief Asia-Pacific, Nick Reynolds, claims.
“It is brands that influence choice, create passion in staff, drive loyalty with customers and command product price premiums,” he says. “The most talked about brands in 2015 are the most disruptive – just look at Red Bull, Uber and Tesla. People talk about their business models, their products and their user experiences because they are disruptive.”
In Reynolds’ view, these companies all do two things. Firstly, they focus on specific target markets and people most likely to be interested in them.
“And they engage in a two-way relationship with their best customers who then become fans, product advocates and ultimately, brand ambassadors,” he says.
Empowered and long-term thinking
It’s this ambition to create world-class brand leadership through customer advocacy that lies at the heart of Lenovo’s marketing approach. To achieve it, Reynolds says brands must fully embrace the digital and customer-led age.
“In an increasingly cluttered and competitive market, and faced with the growing importance of digital and social media, the relationship brands have with their customers is more important than ever,” Reynolds says.
“Digital transformation is the primary change driver in marketing today and every company/brand has to recognise that the marketing function has a large responsibility to transform not only the marketing approach but influence and change many functions approach to customer engagement and customer management. Marketing should pivot the company culture so it transforms for the digital-age.”
Top marketing attributes
“CMOs must share a devotion to drive the digital focus as a marketing standard to ensure their brands and businesses stay relevant. It’s brutal, but it’s now the reality in some shape or form for every business - go digital or die.”
Reynolds also believes CMOs must position marketing as critical to the CEO, executives and the board in building a sustainable long-term business.
“This requires having a strong commercial business understanding, demonstrating marketing value and balancing short-term results focus with a longer-term sustainable brand perspective,” he says.
Innovation, meanwhile, is about seizing opportunities to advance what you do and enjoying being on the journey of improvement and making a difference every day, Reynolds says.
“At Lenovo, our company’s attitude is ‘Never Stand Still’ and for me that embodies the concept of innovation and manifests itself in a pioneering culture,” he adds.
From the CMO50 submission
Business contribution and innovation
As the CMO for Asia-Pacific at Lenovo, Reynolds has been responsible for building and executing the brand’s entry into the consumer market in Australia in October 2014. The task extended beyond marketing strategy and product portfolio planning to include retail channel partner negotiations and onboarding, volume and sales planning, headcount planning and modelling, planning and execution from end-to-end.
Backed by a $10 million marketing spend over 12 months, Reynolds’ goal was to reach a 10 per cent market share by March 2016 and be the #3 vendor in consumer sales in 18 months.
Kicking off with a high-impact marketing campaign, Lenovo’s CEO, Yang Yuanqing, announced to more than 300 Australian media that the PC vendor was launching a breakthrough consumer notebook, desktop and tablet portfolio, working with key retailers, Harvey Norman and JB Hi-Fi.
In his CMO50 submission, Reynolds said the marketing results and wider business objectives have well and truly exceeded plan. Lenovo became the fastest growing major technology brand in Australia, consistently ranked #3 in consumer share of voice (SOV) in digital and social, and #3 in PR SOV for media coverage after Apple and Samsung. It also grew its brand awareness grew from 8 per cent to 41 per cent in nine months.
According to GfK retail sales data, sales results have also exceeded expectations. In less than 12 months, Lenovo reached #3 PC and #3 tablet vendor in Australia with 10 per cent notebook share, 14.4 per cent desktop share and 5.1 per cent tablet share.
Modern marketing and customer engagement thinking and effectiveness
In October 2014, Lenovo launched its new halo product range, ‘YOGA’. However, for Australia, the products marked the vendor’s first entry into the consumer retail market. Reynolds adapted multinational assets for the local launch to create a cost-effective campaign with cut-through.
In his submission, Reynolds said strategic direction was based around its brand goals:
- Launch the brand to consumers in A/NZ, building positive perception of the brand and increasing SOV to 20 per cent;
- Market the halo ‘YOGA’ tablet and laptop products, and drive sales;
- Heavily invest focus on social and digital channels to cut-through to the target millennial audience;
- Break through the clutter into retail marketing channels with a branded in-store presence.
Reynolds focused 75 per cent of spend on digital and social media to target millennials, as the key influential group on technology, music, fashion, travel and design. The campaign targeted millennials with premium PC and tablet ‘YOGA’ offering, and aimed to position Lenovo as a premium brand with superior technology.
Reynolds worked particularly with Facebook, as well as Instagram and Twitter, to tap into new betas to gain a competitive edge and create a flexible, data-led approach. He invested in owned, earned and paid social and digital activities, as well as user and influencer generated content. Retail partners supported the campaign with dedicated, branded Lenovo benches in-store.
As a result, Lenovo’s brand awareness had grown to 42 per cent at the time of CMO50 judging.
Data and/or technology driven approach
Digital-first has become the catchcry of Lenovo’s marketing strategy under Reynolds’ leadership, as has testing and retargeting spend through constant measurement and insights.
In his CMO50 submission, he highlighted efforts to build out a digital and social strategy for the launch of Lenovo’s ‘YOGA’ range throughout the pre-launch, launch and post-launch phases of the campaign.
“I ensured we invested in controlled lifestyle specific social programmatic buys; covering essential millennial pursuits such as food, fashion, music, travel and technology as well as media-first programmatic buy with key millennial-focused outlets and digital site takeovers,” Reynolds said in his submission. “I wanted to ensure Lenovo was everywhere that a millennial will be, but to focus on more effective, engagement marketing, rather than traditional advertising.
“For example, we knew video was key, as there was a combined target audience of 3.5 million unique views across the millennial video audience. Therefore, we took the global assets and deployed different ad units comparing the effectiveness of each execution using an ‘always on’ approach, with constant tweaking of the content to suit the audience.”
Reynolds said the results for video speak for themselves, with 10 million impressions and 6.6 million views delivered, 4.9 million completed views, and 2.2 million unique viewers reached via specific video targeting.
As examples of the creativity behind Lenovo’s marketing efforts, Reynolds noted Lenovo’s work with actor, Ashton Kutcher, during his time in Sydney to launch the YOGA tablet.
“We wanted to create some really compelling and disruptive digital content, and so created a stunt where Ashton Kutcher posed as a JB Hi-Fi sales assistant selling the Lenovo ‘YOGA’ tablet in unconventional ways,” he said. “This video content got tremendous pick up and was viewed over 1.5 million times on YouTube worldwide. It was also covered by major media platforms, both locally and globally.”
Influencer campaigns are another key part of the creative approach, and Lenovo has worked with more than 70 influencers from identified millennial passion points, such as fashion, food and gaming, on building collaborations, cross collaborations, attendance at local events, long-term product testing and reviews, coverage of major overseas events, and making digital studio and video editing content possible.
“An example of this was working with Couturing Fashion Bloggers, who are part of Lenovo’s Influencer Program, who obtained interviews with Heidi Klum, Ruby Rose, Danni Minogue and Napoleon Perdis,” the submission stated. “They also commissioned a mini web-series in the lead up to Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Australia that involved major fashion brands like Maticevski and integrated Lenovo technology onto the runway and into the fashion ‘front row’.”
Although Lenovo was not the official technology sponsor of Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Australia, it also worked with influencers using ‘YOGA’ Tablets, creating more social media buzz than the event’s official technology sponsor, Samsung.
The social-led campaign and activation of MBFWA delivered more than 195,000 engagements and social commentary, along with 30 mainstream print media articles.