Bringing the local flavour to an international consumer brand

We chat with ASUS local marketing leader, about how the COVID-19 shift has allowed fresh thinking on how localisation improved engagement

When Farzeen Quadir-Hegde joined Taipei-based technology maker, ASUS, as its head of marketing for Australia in October 2019, her goal was to localise what had previously been a headquarters-centric marketing program.

Her timing was fortuitous however, with COVID-driven lockdowns soon highlighting the need for on-the-ground experience.

“When I came on-board, one of my first priorities was to have a local team set up, so our go-to-market approaches could be localised,” Quadir-Hegde tells CMO. “It was quite interesting to do that in the midst of the pandemic.”

PC, notebook and accessory makers counted amongst the few winners of 2020, with the research group, IDC, estimating overall Australian PC shipments grew by 35.2 per cent in the second quarter of the year. IDC also noted the notebook market, where ASUS primarily plays, was especially strong, with 46.6 per cent growth in the commercial segment and 52.4 per cent growth in consumer purchases.

But Quadir-Hegde says capturing sales during this time required careful planning and the need to listen closely to the market.

“To work in the new normal, we had to work with how our customers approach was changing, how they were using laptops, and how their lifestyle was changing,” Quadir-Hegde says. “It’s not just a device anymore that you turn on to get your day’s work or your study done. It is almost like a companion to you. So it is not just the functionality of it, the look and feel is quite important as well.”

One of the most important changes was to shift ASUS’ messaging beyond just discussing the latest technology.

“A lot of our marketing campaigns have repositioned the messaging in terms of ‘what does it mean for a customer’,” Quadir-Hegde says. “The way we are messaging is very much focused around usability.”

As the COVID-19 lockdowns commenced in March and April, ASUS also began to reframe its messaging to encompass the peripheral devices needed to make a suitable at-home work or study setup, such as Wi-Fi routers and monitors.

“What we did was integrate our internal business units, and went to market with messaging of more of a holistic solution,” Quadir-Hegde says. “We worked across our different business units to offer those solutions and went to market with a complete solution for what people needed.”

The pandemic also meant Quadir-Hegde had to rethink the channels ASUS was using to reach customers, which historically had included exhibitions, events, and in-store retail.

“What we had to really review was the digital touchpoints with our customers and increase our marketing focused on those channels,” Quadir-Hegde says. “What was important was to always be in front of our customers and always keep that engagement going, especially as we were losing that face-to-face component.”

The local, virtual shift

The shift to localised and virtualised engagement was evident in the recent launch of ASUS’ new ZenBook devices in February.

“That event was specifically targeted at our partners and media as well,” she says. “It’s not the same as having a face-to-face event, but we still managed to have a really good engagement, with 80 percent-plus attendance.

“The Australian market is quite a different market within the APAC region, so personalisation and custom messages is quite important.”

While Quadir-Hegde says she would like to get back to face-to-face events, she expects some aspects of virtual engagement are here to stay.

“There will always be a person who might be in a different country or different state or not able to attend, and having a virtual component allows you to still have that reach,” Quadir-Hegde says. “Everything is changing, so I think it is about being agile.”

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