Companies and brands in Bangladesh should invest in digital marketing to reach out to technologically connected population, said experts yesterday.
Md Mehedi Reza, a product manager at Alibaba, China's biggest online commerce company, said digital marketing is witnessing a lot of changes in Bangladesh of late.
“In 2012, I approached hundreds of companies to make them understand the value of digital marketing. But I was able to convince only three companies, as most of them preferred billboards and televisions to promote their products and services.”
“But now they are becoming interested,” he said at the Digital Marketing Summit 2016 at Le Meridien Hotel in Dhaka.
Reza sees the potential of e-commerce in Bangladesh, which is the 10th largest country in the world in terms of mobile phone subscribers.
“People have started to follow products and brands, meaning, they want to buy the products. Classified sites are also getting popular day by day.”
There are about 60 million internet connections in the country.
Mashrur Hassan, head of marketing of Huawei Technologies (Bangladesh) Ltd, said riding on digital marketing, his company has established a strong footprint in the world as well as in Bangladesh.
“We hope this will take us further in the future.”
Hassan said brands such as Huawei are investing a portion of their marketing budget in digital marketing, as they see growth prospects in the area.
An initiative of Bangladesh Brand Forum, the summit was presented by Huawei and powered by SSD–Tech and was organised in association with The Daily Star.
The third edition of the summit with the theme -- Demystifying Digital Marketing -- brought leading and global industry professionals, decision-makers and thought leaders under one roof to exchange and share their experiences on all aspects of digital marketing.
Suresh Ramaswamy, digital lead of Grey Group Asia Pacific, said brands can reach out to 130 million customers in the Bangladesh market. “You also have billions in potential audience in the world if you have ambition.”
The companies can target their audience by fragmenting the audience by geography, gender, age, their interests and language, he added.
His recipe for the brands is they have to be creative as it helps companies stand out from clutter. “A good strategy is the prerequisite for creativity. Creativity is more than a clever copy, aesthetics and shiny objects.”
He said creativity drives disproportionate business results and return on investment.
Mahfuz Anam, editor and publisher of The Daily Star, said throughout centuries some people, societies and nations advanced by way of absorbing innovations compared to those who could not use the innovations.
Innovations open up new opportunities, but the crucial question is how many companies are ready to accept, absorb and adapt to digital technology, he added.
Anam said the impact of digital innovation would perhaps be profound and brands in Bangladesh can explore the potential in digital innovation by bypassing others.
“But it will depend on their ability to take advantage of the innovation and their mindset,” he said, asking marketers to be ethical for long-term and sustainable growth instead of cutting corners for short-term gains.
Ashraf Bin Taj, managing director of International Distribution Company Bangladesh (Pvt) Ltd, said there are people who are investing in finances and supply chain, but are not interested in digital marketing.
Solaiman Sukhon, head of marketing of Aamra Networks, said these people lack understanding and are taking digital marketing lightly.
“This has to be changed. We have to invest in digital marketing.”
Syed Tanzim Rezwan, marketing director of Reckitt Benckiser Bangladesh, said companies have failed to understand the value of marketing. “When it comes to digital marketing, the situation is even worse.”
The digital platform allows companies to evaluate their campaigns faster than other platforms, he added.
Kazi Monirul Kabir, chief innovation officer of Spider Digital Innovations, a Dubai-based IT firm, said the digital marketing would not develop in Bangladesh overnight.
“Digital marketing will have to go a long way in Bangladesh. But I am energised to see how fast we are going.”
Mohammad Abdur Rahaman, manager for retention and management and information system at IDLC Finance Ltd, said the management of companies that aspire to be heavyweights still sees digital marketing as a cost rather than an investment.
Nazia Andaleeb Preema, president of Women in Leadership, said digital things are at the centre of people's lives and they are truly transforming people's lives.
Four specialised discussions were also held to strengthen ground-level expertise of digital marketing practitioners. These sessions were conducted by expert digital marketers from Google, Alibaba, WebAble, and SSD-Tech.
The summit was also supported by Le Meridien, the Marketing Society of Bangladesh, Aamra Networks, Masthead PR and digital marketing agency WebAble.