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In order to help attendees to gain more insights on the upcoming Digital Marketing Leaders Summit Hong Kong 2019, we had an exclusive interview with Chelsea Perino, Managing Director, Global Marketing & Communications of the Executive Centre. Chelsea has worked in advertising both in New York and most recently in Seoul, South Korea, leading digital strategy for a global mobile communications brand. Now based in Hong Kong, Chelsea is the Managing Director, Global Marketing & Communications at The Executive Centre, Asia’s leading premium flexible workspace provider.
Can you tell us a bit more about your professional background and your current role at The Executive Centre? 
I graduated with an undergraduate degree in Anthropology and Linguistics from NYU, but instead of taking the traditional path, I embarked on a 4-year solo trip around the world. I found my passion in marketing while based in Cape Town, South Africa, and after 1.5 years working in marketing and sales at an events start-up, I moved back to NYC to pursue a Masters Degree in Public and Organizational Relations with a focus on digital communications and brand strategy. I then spent 2 years working for a leading digital advertising agency in New York City before embarking overseas again to open a satellite office in Seoul, South Korea for another New York-based agency. For the next two and a half years, I lead digital strategy for a global telecommunications brand, a role which took me all over the world and involved projects such as implementing the brand communications program for the 2016 Rio de Janiero Summer Olympics and Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. I moved to Hong Kong in 2017 to take over Global Marketing & Communications for The Executive Centre, a premium flexible workspace provider with a presence in over 30 cities across APAC, where I was tasked with building both the marketing department and full brand strategy from scratch.
What compelled you to enter the marketing industry? 
I am passionate about how an effective 360-degree marketing program can be used to effectively achieve defined business objectives, increase a brand's transparency and build trust within the marketplace, and create meaningful relationships between brands and their target consumers. Effective marketing is all about understanding your target, how they think, what they want (sometimes even when they are not sure what that is) – with my scientific background understanding the motives behind why people act the way they do and why they buy what they buy is fascinating, but even more exciting is being able to use that knowledge to help brands reach people that will really love their products.
What have been some of the biggest changes you’ve seen in marketing over the past 5 years and what do predict for the near future?
I think there’s an immediacy now that didn’t exist 5 years ago. People want the information to be transparent and at their fingertips. They have heightened expectations of brands to know what they want but also to ’act’ like people – to have personalities and values – this is a big decision driver in consumerism today. It’s not just about the product itself, it’s whether the company’s value system is aligned with yours. Experience is also hugely impactful – people are less about owning tangible products and are putting more importance on what they surround themselves with -where they work, where they shop, what they watch, what they consumer - it’s all about experiences now.
Have you noticed any key differences between marketing and/or consumer behaviour between Hong Kong, South Korea and New York?
I think that while there are significant differences between the cultures in NYC, (and in the USA in general), HK and Korea, consumer behaviour and expectations, and thus of course marketing, have evolved in parallel. As I mentioned previously, the experience is key. For my business, it’s about workplace culture, how do we design spaces to create the environment (experience) that will make employees most satisfied, and how do we market those environments to appeal to different audiences. In terms of the differences, consumers in HK and Korea are more demanding – their online shopping behaviours trump that of western consumers and channels like Taobao, WeChat, and Kakao have created the expectation of immediate reward. The plethora of products and marketplaces available in HK and Korea have impacted brand loyalty, whereas in the US consumers are more likely to be return buyers.
What does localisation mean to you? When localising content, what is it that you are aiming to achieve?
I think that effective communication is the linchpin to all successful brands, but navigating the diverse cultural landscapes and adapting global brand strategies to effectively reach local markets is a challenge. I love that challenge, because when you can bridge the gap between the overarching message that global brands are trying to communicate, an international target audience, and then the localized version of that audience, you create an ecosystem that is really layered and detailed, but also allows consumers to relate to the brand in a more personalized way, as well as find products that will positively impact their life.
Has localising to the APAC market brought about any difficulties to your regional marketing performance? 
No, it’s actually strengthened our marketing efforts, as well as our sales. The key is ensuring that you have a strong team and a unified overarching brand vision and identity, paired with localized resources that ensure that message is tailored but still consistent with the overarching brand story. Being able to tailor the message to different cultures means that consumers better understand and relate to your brand and products and that in turn increases loyalty (and profit).
You have vast experience adapting global brand strategies to effectively reach local markets. This has proved a significant challenge for many brands, who tend to lose their brand identity in the process of localisation. How do you maintain global brand consistency whilst adapting content to suit culturally diverse audiences?
Three key things:
  • Creating a clear brand identity (mission and vision) that is both universally relatable but more importantly adaptable, i.e. it can act as a foundation off of which more tailored messaging that is culturally targeted can be developed.
  • Creating guidelines that direct regionalised messaging to support the larger brand purpose. This includes things like visual guides, logo and typography rules, tone of voice guidelines, etc.
  • Allowing some autonomy to local initiatives. Success comes with the realization that initiatives that work in China won’t work in India, and the way that people consume information in Australia is different than they do in Japan. Learning from the local teams, and then providing them with the resources that allow them to communicate the brand’s key messages to local consumers in the way that is most natural to them, but is also consistent with the larger brand ethos, is the most important.
Your talk at the Digital Marketing Leaders Summit will focus on ’Tackling fragmented landscapes with your content in Asia.’ What do you hope our delegates can take away from your presentation?
  • The importance of a ‘Think Global, Act Local’ marketing strategy
  • A few key tactics to help build and maintain brand consistency
  • How to use localization to build efficiencies
Chelsea is a speaker of the upcoming Digital Marketing Leaders Summit Hong Kong 2019. To find out more about her presentation, please click here.

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