IAA Congress: Alibaba is now a combination of Amazon, Facebook and Google: Chris Tung

At the 44th IAA World Congress in Kochi, the Chief Marketing Officer of Alibaba talks about their data-driven new marketing suite called uni-marketing

by Tasmayee Laha Roy
Published - Feb 22, 2019 8:19 AM Updated: Feb 22, 2019 8:19 AM
ChrisTung

While the entire world is talking about data ownership and data protection, Chinese e-commerce behemoth Alibaba is gung ho about their data-driven new marketing suite called uni-marketing. Speaking at the 44th IAA World Congress in Kochi on Thursday, Chris Tung, Chief Marketing Officer of Alibaba, said uni-marketing leverages the huge data that the company possesses to deliver unparelled targeted marketing.

“Alibaba is constantly posting a 50 per cent year-on-year revenue growth and I would like to share the secret of driving such a growth. Alibaba did start as an e-commerce company for international trade but Alibaba, as a company, now does pretty much everything in China. Alibaba is now a combination of Amazon, Facebook and Google. Alibaba has built an ecosystem of brand building for the future. Alibaba is uniquely positioned as provider of a single source of consumer truth by digitalising the entire lifecycle of consumer brand relationship,” Tung said.

In an interview with exchange4media, Tung elaborated on their uni-marketing initiative and how it works for them.

Excerpts

Tell us about your new uni-marketing tool.

People in the Chinese market have huge faith in the quality of Alibaba’s data because we, as a marketer, believe that transactional data is the most precious data to derive what the consumer wants to buy. It’s a consensus there that Alibaba has the best data. But the question we have is how we can deal with it because it is sensitive. It is powerful but risky if you don’t do it right. So the whole idea of leveraging Alibaba’s data was a universal thinking everywhere in the country.

We are leveraging the data to support the brands and merchants to drive growth. This is a dedicated force to make it work for them. A very easy-to-operate actionable system will be much more efficient and that’s why we put together the thinking and came up with uni-marketing.

Through this database, companies can analyze consumer behaviour and market their products much faster, better and in a more diversified way.

Your uni-marketing tool heavily uses data and these days data protection is a huge issue. How do you balance it out?

We have the responsibility to protect the data because we own the data. We take this very seriously at Alibaba. Data protection issues are of utmost importance because that is how we gain the trust of the customer as well as the merchant. We have to protect everybody’s data. That’s why when we developed uni-marketing system. We have made it insight-based, it gives an insight on customers; their choice their preference etc, but without disclosing out any personal details. The scale of data is generally more than half a million so you don’t get to understand any individual in the process. So while brands get to use the data and it is an interesting balance, the utmost important thing here is data protection.

You announced uni-marketing at Cannes. Any plans of competing at the Cannes?

We have created something unique. And innovation at that level required a lot of promotion and communication and that’s is why we are at platforms like Cannes. While I do not want to sound arrogant, uni-marketing doesn’t have any such competitor. So who do we compete with?

 

You also mentioned digitising end to end brand building. What is the kind of advantage this has over traditional marketing?

The older marketing techniques provide you with a visibility in a statistical way. So you have a hypothetical audience, let’s say for example female under 35 living in Mumbai, but it is not enough. You never certainly know whether they have the need to buy your product. For us, it is like bulls-eye targeting. We look at all the data, find a suitable target and then amplify all the forces in that direction. It’s a totally different level of efficiency.

 

You did mention that you are ready to take your new marketing tool beyond borders now. Any plans to come to India with it as you have already entered the market as investors?

We definitely have India in our mind. We are very open to try uni-marketing in any market that Alibaba has a footprint in. We have some pre-requisites, which are quality of data and scale of touchpoint. If both work in our favour, we can definitely look at taking uni-marketing there.

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