Shanghai – Global brand and marketing consultancy Prophet today announced it has collaborated with Alimama, the marketing technology platform of Alibaba Group, to build a new model to transform brand building in China. The Brand META Model helps companies take advantage of the unique consumer dynamics and digital ecosystem of the Chinese market to fuel growth and profitability.

Alimama and Prophet believe brands in China, both multinational and homegrown, are reaching a tipping point. Chinese consumers are increasingly wealthy and empowered, and they are demanding more sophisticated and engaging customer experiences from brands. Yet, despite having access to deep troves of consumer data and insights, too many companies are still chasing low-margin share.

Local brands in China are focused on building scale rather than equity – creating a product, distributing it as quickly and as widely as possible and driving awareness with consumers. This has resulted in product proliferation, commoditisation and marketplace clutter, and has left consumers with a bewildering array of parity options. Meanwhile, multinational brands continue to adhere to a rigid and traditional model of strategy, planning and execution that has limited their ability to become relevant in China and ultimately impacted their growth and profitability.

To help both types of companies build strong, enduring brands in China, Prophet and Alimama worked together to create the Brand META Model. META represents the Maintain-Evolve-Transform Approach to brand building, and guides companies through a few steps:

  • Maintain – The model helps companies identify and maintain their core brand principles and positioning.
  • Evolve – The model evolves the strategies of classic brand building to help companies account for crucial factors like micro-segments and the role influencers play in China.
  • Transform – The model shows companies how to transform their approach to take advantage of the rich data and real time, omnichannel interactions that are unique to China’s digital ecosystem.

The Brand META Model was created based on expert inputs, brand and secondary market data, and insights from market stakeholders.

Jay Milliken, Senior Partner at Prophet, said, “The collaboration between Prophet and Alimama is founded on a shared vision to transform brand building in China. Prophet has always believed that brand relevance is the key to customer engagement and profitable growth, and we are honoured to work with Alimama to develop a new model that revolutionises how brands are created in China.”

Christina Lu, General Manager of the Uni-Marketing and Strategy Center, Alibaba Group, said, “In the digital era, Alimama believes that marketing is a valuable investment that helps accumulate consumer insights which will become important assets for brands. With over 500 million active users on our e-commerce platforms, we enable brands to understand different facets of consumer preferences, which will be instrumental to effective consumer engagement and brand building. We are delighted to work with Prophet that shares our goals to build a new branding model.”

David A. Aaker, Vice Chairman at Prophet, added, “The breakthrough idea that changed marketing over two decades ago is that brands are strategic assets. They are platforms that create ongoing value for an organisation. As more and more companies look to find growth in the exciting China market, the competition is more intense than ever. Brand asset with consumers is going to be a key determinant in who establishes themselves in China and who enjoys the growth that market makes possible.”

To develop the Brand META Model, Prophet conducted interviews with China digital experts, including well-known authority on Chinese consumers Tom Doctoroff, in order to obtain a deeper understanding of the impact digital has in the China market. Prophet also conducted research with executives of leading brands in various categories, both international and local, to learn about the insights, experiences and mistakes from those who have successfully embraced brand building in China’s digital age.

Prophet’s Milliken unveiled the model during a keynote address at the Alimama Marketing Conference in Hangzhou on August 9, 2017. A joint white paper describing the model in more detail will be released later this year.

For more information about the Brand META Model and to sign up to receive the white paper, click here.

About Prophet

Prophet is a consultancy that helps clients unlock uncommon growth by developing new business models, reimagining brands and experiences, driving demand and customer engagement and empowering people to transform their organizations. The largest privately-owned firm of its kind, Prophet brings a unique blend of creative and strategy to identify paths to purposeful, transformative and sustainable growth.

Based in San Francisco, with 12 global offices and more than 500 strategists, data analysts, marketers, digital experts and creatives, Prophet has worked with the world’s most successful companies, including BOE, Mei One, Midea, ABInbev, AXA, Samsung and Marriott, partnering with them from ideation to in-market execution.