Knowledge Centre:
News Digests

Stay abreast of what’s happening internationally with developments in corporate public affairs. Here is news that you may find useful and interesting:

Japanese firms rethink Thai focusND

Yumi Teso, Australian Financial Review, 16 November 2011

Japanese companies may choose to build factories in Indonesia and Vietnam and shift operations from Thailand, following country’s worst flooding in seventy years. Investment in Thailand is likely to cool as Japanese companies, Thailand’s largest foreign investors, reconsider the risks of locating electronic and automotive manufacturing in the country. Measures from the Thai government, such as improved drainage infrastructure, may be needed to restore investor confidence. Indonesia and Vietnam possess large populations and strong domestic demand, which make them appealing investment locations for Japanese firms. For more see

Picking brand names in China is a business itselfND

Michael Wines, New York Times, 11 November 2011

Translation of foreign product brand names into Mandarin and Cantonese is an important business decision with serious consequences for profitability. With China’s market from consumer goods growing by more than 13 per cent annually — and the sale of luxury goods by 25 per cent — Western companies are employing consultants, linguistic analysts and computer programmers to avoid naming blunders. These efforts recognise that, due to the Chinese reliance on characters to form words, rather than a phonetic alphabet, Chinese words carry highly nuanced meanings. For more see

Empower workers to drive successND

Henriette Rothschild, The Age, 10 November 2011

Employee enablement has been highlighted as the missing link to productivity from research conducted with more than 400 companies globally. Companies surveyed consider engagement levels important but this does not mean employees are enabled. Nine drivers of productivity have been identified for companies to encourage both enablement and engagement: clarity and direction; confidence in leaders; quality and customer focus; reward only the best; the ROI on reward; performance management; your workforce is critical; collaboration innovation; structure, work and processes; the role of culture. For more information, see

What can Web 2.0 teach us about CSR?ND

Wayne Visser, CSRwire, 10 November 2011

CSR has long meant corporate social responsibility, but the acronym might more accurately be labelled ‘corporate sustainability and responsibility’. Such a shift would recognise the transformation that has occurred in recent years as business redefines its role in society in an age of social media networks and user-generated content. These shifts include macro-level changes as paternalistic relationships between companies and the community based on philanthropy give way to more equal partnerships. At the micro-level, CSR no longer manifests soley as the luxury option, but as an affordable solution to those who desire quality of life improvements. Companies that find collaborative and innovative ways to tackle global challenges drive this new ‘CSR 2.0’, reaping rewards in the marketplace. For more see

Innovation and the fundamental changes in corporate responsibilityND

Diana Verde Nieto, Washington Post, 9 November 2011

Consumers are increasingly interested in companies’ sustainability and environmental responsibilities behind the products they are buying. Consumers realise that their purchases have a global footprint linked to the item’s production sources, methods and business practices. In response, more companies are offering transparency and investing in reducing their ecological footprint to have a positive impact on company reputation and consumer perception. Products are becoming leaner and greener resulting in greater accountability and boosted consumer confidence. For more information see

Women ascendent: Where females are rising the fastestND

Joel Kotkin, Forbes, 8 November 2011

Newly empowered by gains in political representation, legal rights, and education, women in the developing world are increasingly becoming business owners as economic conditions improve. Women are rising the fastest in Brazil, India, Vietnam and the Philippines, demonstrating a high degree of entrepreneurship despite being locked out of many opportunities in the job market due to cultural barriers. The trajectory of women’s progress, and with it the future of the ascendancy of women, is shifting from the developed to the developing world. For more see

Fast friends and customersND

Mark Cameron, BRW, 3 November 2011

Some say return from social media participation is confined within brand perception and customer satisfaction however these are difficult to measure and such metrics can dilute objectives. Social media captures demographic and psychometric data that can be used to target messages to the right customers. The more a consumer encounters a brand through various channels, the more they are likely to purchase. Integrating the range of communication channels to deliver a tailored message and acquire data is important to know what the customer wants. For more information see

Glutted with graduatesND

The Economist, 3 November 2011

South Korea’s education fetish has sparked fears of an education bubble, as the country’s firms struggle to absorb the vast number of university graduates. As the highest rate in the OECD, eighty two per cent of South Korean high school graduates go on to university, prompting the government to discourage families from providing their children with a potentially financially crippling university education. Given that more than a third of Korea’s unemployed have been to university, President Lee Myung-bak is pressing large firms to increase their non-graduate intake. For more information see

China’s confident consumersND

Yuval Atsmon and Max Magni, McKinsey Quarterly, November 2011

The Chinese have embraced consumerism easily and despite rising inflation, consumers are confident about their financial future. Fifty eight per cent of respondents interviewed expected their incomes to increase in 2012. Additionally, more brands and more products are entering and becoming accessible in the Chinese market. Although growth differs between regions and products, the overall trend illustrated that people are increasing their spending in greater quantities and on more expensive products. For more information see

How great companies think differentlyND

Rosabeth Moss Kanter, Harvard Business Review, November 2011

Great companies operate on the ‘institutional logic’ that they are an intrinsic part of society, like family, government and religion. They work for profit, but their core purpose is geared toward people and society. Institutional logic comprises of a common purpose, a long-term view, emotional engagement, community building, innovation and self-organisation. While institutional logic cannot be measured by conventional cost-benefit equations, it is a powerful driver of financial performance. For more information see

How social technology is extending organisationsND

Jacques Bughin, Angela Hung Byers and Michael Chui, McKinsey Quarterly, November 2011

Many companies have already launched and have integrated multiple social technologies as part of their internal workplace tools, which are used internally and externally. Companies are also in the process of better understanding which types of social technologies suit different business processes. For instance, social networking and blogs are seen to fit best in externally focused marketing efforts. It is expected that in the next three to five years, the use of social technologies will significantly blur the boundaries between employee, vendor and customer relationships. However, as use increases there will be greater volumes of data that will provide better guidance. For more information see

Social strategies that workND

Mikolaj Jan Piskorski, Harvard Business Review, November 2011

Facebook, eHarmony, Renren and LinkedIn all satisfy two basic human needs: meeting new people and strengthening existing relationships. While companies have Facebook pages with many ‘friends’, few have truly generated profits. Poorly performing companies on these social platforms have focussed solely on advertising and seeking customer feedback. Successful companies have helped people create or enhance relationships that would also benefit the company. For instance, Zynga produces free social games that made almost $1 billion this year. For more information see

The demographics of coolND

Scott Berinato, Harvard Business Review, November 2011

Traditional categories and ways of understanding demographics are changing. Technology has helped illustrate that variables for defining demographic profiles are increasingly complex and there is an excess of data that has been collected, crunched, re-crunched and cross-tabbed. But sometimes, age, race, income and location don’t matter — only the mindset does. This refers to a distinct trendy culture people have embraced that influences the definition of ‘cool’. Understanding this takes a more qualitative approach and is important for guiding how companies can present themselves and their products. For more information see

What marketers say about working online: McKinsey Global Survey resultsND

McKinsey Quarterly, November 2011

Despite widespread agreement regarding the high value of digital tools and technologies for marketing, many companies struggle to measure the return on investment and to capture customer data. This untapped resource requires structural change on behalf of organisations wishing to engage with consumers via technologies such as social media. A recent survey of marketing executives revealed that despite acceptance of the need for an improved online presence, many organisations are held back by a lack of internal leadership and adequate resourcing to develop better analytical capabilities, and thus better insights about customers. For more see

Our own worst enemiesND

Louis Carter, Strategy+Business, 29 October 2011

To adopt best practice in workplace innovation and performance, a company needs to first identify what they are. A common mistake in sourcing best practice approaches by a company is to overlook those occurring within other companies externally. On the other hand, some executives erroneously assume that best practice comes only from big companies within their industry. Recent research has discovered that the most valuable practices can come from companies that are completely different, and this can lead to innovative competitive advantages. For more information, see

China’s new protectionismND

Dexter Roberts, Bloomberg BusinessWeek, 27 October 2011

Local Chinese officials are at the forefront of a wave of new protectionism against Western businesses operating in China. As the slowing Chinese economy and competition hurts Chinese brands, officials are monitoring international companies more closely. In particular, Wal-mart stores and France’s Carrefour chain have been made to pay fines and deliver public apologies, by the Chinese government for some transgressions. This increased scrutiny by the Chinese government reflects the mounting competition among local and international firms for a share of China’s $70 billion-a-year market for large grocery stores, a figure that is expected to double by 2015. For more see

Our brains, our wallets: The field of neuromarketingND

Phillip Harris, Smart Company, 26 October 2011

While consumers like to imagine themselves as rational actors, capable of making decisions based on a reasoned cost-benefit analysis, growing research suggests that much decision-making occurs ‘below-the-surface’. These hidden, emotionally biased thought processes account for the long observed gap between consumers’ stated intentions and actual behaviour. Neuromarketing offers a range of new opportunities for marketers to target this area of decision-making but has been accompanied by controversy as ethicists express concern over the persuasive power of neuromarketing techniques. For more see

Social media driving the growth of e-commerceND

Amit Bapna, The Economic Times India, 26 October 2011

Social media platforms are triggering greater social commerce across most categories. Deals on e-commerce sites get shared and re-tweeted creating more noise online. There is also increasing competition for online space between pure e-tailers and brick and mortar retailers who are moving online or have an online presence. The trend is also shifting in favour of group-buying sites establishing a new category of e-shoppers. It is questionable though whether too much crowding of e-tailers with little differentiation will lead to another dotcom bust. For more information see

Only your brand will save youND

Dorie Clark, Harvard Business Review, 25 October, 2011

The current period of international economic uncertainty has prompted many workers to speculate on their job security. An effective method for anyone unsure of his or her job security is to focus on personal branding. This involves cultivating a reputation as a reliable leader within the company, developing a passionate following of people who value your perspective, and becoming widely known and discussed. These measures represent an insurance against hard times. For more see

Four ways to 'hear' your consumersND

G. Michael Maddock and Raphael Louis Vitón, Bloomberg Businessweek, 24 October 2011

Listening to consumers is the key to innovation success. Yet understanding what consumers need and want (identifying a hole in the marketplace) is the most difficult part of creating a new product. Even industry experts are vulnerable to selectively listening to consumers, which can lead to companies ignoring customer needs. In overcoming this engagement gap between producers and consumers, businesses must be willing to challenge entrenched beliefs about the market, re-engage with consumer expectations, and consult outside experts. Such methods foster an entrepreneurial perspective, creating opportunities to recognise new products, services, or business models. For more information see

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