What are best new ideas for brands and marketing in 2016? … How can you apply the ideas to your own business?

I recently visited Guiyang, one of China’s fastest growing cities. You could call it the centre of the world actually. Over half the world’s population live in a circle 4100km around this place!

The Asian tiger is still roaring, and whilst growth is not quite what it was, China and India are still racing ahead, 7% growth in 2016, and on course to become the world’s most important markets. Alongside Indonesia and South Korea, they are incredibly vibrant spaces, where entrepreneurs are thriving, local businesses testing their wings, and western companies are venturing ever more. I love working in Asian markets – there is such a passion for doing better – for learning and innovating, and nowadays less about learning from America, much more about outthinking them. The vast majority of consumers now have disposable income, with a tremendous thirst for fashion and gadgets to demonstrate their progress, and indulge life to the full. Whilst Asia now has a well educated and hard-working workforce, it still lacks some of the confidence to develop new strategies, and aesthetic creativity to develop winning brands. When it does, it will dominate the global economy.

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Here are 10 treasures from the Asia Pacific region, to help inspire your thinking:

Aussie Farmers Direct

AisleOne was launched recently as the world’s most advanced shopping aisle available anywhere anytime on your smartphone. Australia’s farmers have come together to do things which retailers traditionally could not, offering the widest and freshest range of food, delivered directly to your home. Since 2006, the network has grown from a three people and one milk float, to a company with 250 franchisees who provide 250,000 households across Australia.

Aussie Farmers Direct is one of the 100 case studies in Gamechangers.

Baidu Chopsticks

In rapidly growing markets, its easy to take shortcuts. And some restaurants have been known to not always use the freshest produce in their woks. Baidu, the Chinese internet company, has found a solution, but making Chop Sticks smart. The intelligent sensors within these hi tech implements can tell a piece of meat that is past its best, or beansprouts that have lost their crispness. An example of how technology is now finding practical applications in our physical daily lives, and not limited to interactions with a screen.

Disney English

In Shanghai recently, I was struck by how many local Chinese are now talking English. I asked them how long they have been learning, and where the best schools are. The result was a surprising one. Disney. Not watching Mickey Mouse, but going to local branded schools – for everyone from young kids to business professionals. Language teaching is big business, but with few known or trusted brands. Disney has recognised that it can help bring the world together with the same voice, and maybe have fun learning too!

Frank by OCBC

Frank is the hip, stylish and trendy brand dripping with obvious youth appeal, that comes from one of Singapore’s largest and most traditional banks, OCBC. The concept was based on deep research into the emerging banking needs of Generation Y, innovating new products, designed a cool new store and did it all with heaps of style. Most visible is the vast range of colourful and personalisable payment cards, displayed in the shop looking more like the latest vibrant collection of Swatch watches. The name stems from the phrase “frankly speaking,” and is intended to convey honesty, sincerity and simplicity.

Gogoro SmartScooter

Taiwan’s Gogoro is building the “Tesla of scooters” … The SmartScooter promises a ride like no other … Awesome performance, easy and fast battery swapping, endless personalization possibilities are just the beginning … And from a marketing perspective, whilst the product oozes lifestyle design, and is also good for the environment, the brand proposition focuses on what matters most to the rider, speed … And finally, if the style of the bike doesn’t catch your eye, just look at the website … beautiful!

Haier Codo

Haier is the world’s largest white goods business. The Chinese company was born out of old and bankrupt manufacturing business, but used a spirit of entrepreneurship – and a structure that created hundreds of profit-sharing small business units – to revitalise itself and grow rapidly. From affordable cookers and fridges, it has stretched far and wide, from robotics to new ways to do life’s essential tasks. One example is Codo, the world’s first “pocket washing machine” along with a rapid stream of innovations.

Astana, Kazakhstan

When my plane landed in the middle of the Kazakh steppe I was expecting very little. 10 years ago it was cold barren earth, nothing but an old landing site for Soviet spacecraft. Now Astana, the new capital of Kazakhstan could be mistaken for the wealth, scale and amition of cities like Abu Dhabi. At the heart of Eurasia, between Russia and China, and with a nation the size of Europe, it is important too. On meeting the prime minister, we discussed the opportunity for the nation to be a “gamechanger”, both in the way it serves its citizens with the most digitally connected social infrastructure, and also plays a new pivotal role in geopolitics.

Lucky Iron Fish

In Cambodia, a considerable proportion of the population is iron deficient. This has increased rapidly since people have moved from cooking in iron pots to stainless steel, and can lead to anemia, weakness, impaired child development. But one little fish can change all that. The fish symbol is lucky to many, and so throwing it into the cooking pot was deemed a positive thing to do. Within 9 months of the campaign being launched, there was a 50% reduction in reported illness, showing that the best solutions can sometimes be incredibly simple, practical and physical.

Moa Beer

Josh Scott comes form the Marlborough region of New Zealand, where his father developed one of the island’s best wineries. When it came time to have over the business to Josh, there was a problem. Josh didn’t like wine. So he started brewing beer. Great, premium beer made in the finest wineries, and the detail normally associated with wines. The Breakfast Beer kicks off the day, followed by 8 different flavours. Even the IPO in 2012 was different, with the prospectus featuring a rather sophisticated lady, in fishnets and heels, pouring over the economics of kiwi beer.

Moa Beer is one of the 100 case studies in Gamechangers.


Who says the Japanese can’t make great advertising? The flying shrimp commercial was certainly one of the craziest in the world this year, with 6 million views. It was also won of Asia’s few success stories at Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity this year, the annual awards for the advertising world. Whilst many phone companies emphasise “speed” DoCoMo go further.  “Three-Second Cooking: Explosively Fast Fried Shrimp” is a one-minute story featuring two “TV chefs” who load up a highly-pressurised double-barreled canon with shrimp, to fire through bread crumbs, egg, oil and a flamethrower. The action is set to a suitable death metal soundtrack. Their meal cooks in three seconds flat.

Tsutaya Bookstore, Tokyo

In 1983, conceived as a lifestyle store by Muneaki Masuda, Tsutaya began as a shop renting and sellingbooks, videos, and music. Since then, it has become an all-encompassing Japanese pop culture platform. In 2011, the company behind the Tsutaya project, CCC, introduced an evolved form of the Tsutaya bookstore in Daikanyama. Based on its “T Point” membership program, the brand continues to suggest a new lifestyle concept.

Xiaomi MiBand

Lei Jun is often called the new Steve Jobs, not least because of the way he sees the future, and inspires the crowds to come with him to explore innovations they never realised they needed. 3 years after launching his first smartphone, the MiPhone, Xiaomi is now the world’s third largest smartphone brand. But that’s not even Lei Jun’s business, he sees himself much more in the knowledge business, harnessing digital media and information to make life better. The $10 MiBand fitness tracker is just one example, available now worldwide at a fraction of the price of the Jawbone or Fitbit. Health and fitness is addictive, and the data that flows from the user, is a highly accessible way for consumers to start exploring the Xiaomi ecosystem.

Xiaomi is one of the 100 case studies in Gamechangers.


Around the World in 80 Marketing Ideas

This is part of a larger project to find the best marketing ideas from around the world, real and practical solutions which work in one place – and (with relevant adaption) could work in your market too … Copy Adapt Paste! They were sourced through my personal travel experiences (I visited around 50 countries in 2015 as a keynote speaker and expert consultant), through a crowdsourcing program and with the help of friends Anouk Pappers and Maarten Shaeffer. You can download all 80 marketing ideas in the presentation below:

Read more about

  • Kaleidoscope 2016 … the 7 big ideas that will shape customers and markets, drive brands and innovation
  • Marketing in Europe in 2016 … from healthy chocolate to digital cosmetics and millennial vlogging
  • Marketing in Asia Pacific in 2016 … from flying shrimp to Aussie farmers and intelligent chopsticks
  • Marketing in The Americas in 2016 … from cool carrots to cardboard 3D headsets and superhero supplies
  • Marketing in Africa and Middle East in 2016 … from farms in boxes to walking a marathon for water