Thailand should brand itself Asean's leader

THAILAND - Thailand should take the lead as the "United States of Asean" and take advantage of the Kingdom's rich, religious culture as its selling points in branding itself ahead of the Asean Economic Community (AEC) in 2015, said marketing guru Philip Kotler.

"Thailand has a beautiful culture and is one of the major Buddhist countries in Southeast Asia. The country is religious-oriented and has a good harmony and principles of good living. These should be the selling points of Thailand," he said.

"You need to think about Asean in branding the country and think about what should be the brand idea behind Thailand. You need to find out the best way to brand Thailand," he said.

Kotler, an 81-year-old distiguished professor at the Kellogg School of Management of Northwestern University in the US, has been dubbed "the father of marketing management" and is the author of the book "Marketing 3.0".

He spoke at the exclusive training session on "Values Driven Marketing" held yesterday by the Krungthep Turakij newspaper and TV channel.

Revealing the global trends of the growing middle class, consumer empowerment and the rise of "Chindia" (China and India), he said business momentum would gravitate to where the growth is.

Up to now, multinational corporations from the "triad" powers of Europe, the US and Japan had created most of the new products.

However, there are now emerging multinationals from China, India, Brazil, Russia, Turkey, South Africa, Thailand and Mexico.

They have strong ambition, vision and confidence and want to become global giants themselves, Kotler said.

"Traditional marketing is dead," he said, pointing to the changes taking place in which companies can no longer rely on the traditional four Ps of marketing - product, place, price and promotion.

Instead of sales-oriented strategies, Kotler said companies need to have a real purpose that sets their brand apart from others, creating genuine brand loyalty and ultimately contributing back to society to spur demand for their products.

Asia has adapted Western ideas to become a marketing powerhouse, with such countries as Japan and South Korea leading the pack in creating a culture of consistent improvement or what Kotler called "creative destruction".

One such brand that has exceeded expectations is Samsung, which has built itself up from being a parts supplier to electronic brands of the West to become a leading producer of smart phones and televisions.

For every product, Samsung assigns a team to "creatively destroy" by looking for flaws and finding out how the product can be better developed. Kotler sees Samsung as a "mega-brand" that will continue to lead.

"Samsung is not afraid of Apple," says Kotler.

Instead he says, the company is more concerned about China producing cheaper options.

An example is Japanese car brand Toyota facing competition from cheaper brands in India and China.

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