INTERNATIONAL MEDIA BUSINESS: Global considerations

How do you maintain a consistent brand message in local markets for a global brand? Marketing directors from HSBC in three different countries across the globe give their story.

EUNAPIO TORRES, marketing services deputy director; Carlos Wanderley, marketing and products director, HSBC Brazil

We have identified that Brazilians have four major motivations when they are choosing a bank: solidity, proximity, relationship and expertise.

It is interesting to note that these reasons are valid for all segments: from the low-income personal banking customer to the private banking, and also among companies of all sizes. "The world's local bank" proposition responds to and summarises these four needs.

In Brazil, HSBC offers customers the most diverse options in terms of packages, according to the level of their relationship, for the personal banking customer.

Solidity and expertise are core attributes of the HSBC brand worldwide and are promoted on the "brand vision" ads.

The Brazilian financial services industry is quite different from most other countries since it is one of the country's top three investors in advertising. So because of the amount of clutter of banks' advertising messages in the media, it can take a bit longer to reach the hearts and minds of Brazilians. As our president says: "We are here for a marathon and not for a 100-yard dash!"

LOUISA CHEANG, head of marketing, personal financial services, HSBC Hong Kong

Effective marketing communication starts with a good understanding of the target audience one intends to reach, so our first step is to gain more in-depth knowledge of the identified business targets.

Demographic information can no longer inform us about our target audience.

It's too superficial. Our customer segmentation is more complicated nowadays.

We cannot simply classify our customers according to their age, gender, income and education level. We need to look deeper. It is essential to understand their mindset as well as their way of life in order to predict their future behaviour.

HSBC in Hong Kong has a very valuable asset - a huge customer database.

Given our long history in Hong Kong, we have a customer base of more than three million (nearly half of the population). Through the process of data mining, research and analysis, we can understand our target customers' lifestyle, thinking and opinion. Such information is needed to steer our marketing programmes and tailor our advertising messages.

The next step is to identify the most effective and cost-efficient channel to communicate our advertising messages. It is important to bear in mind that no matter how attractive our advertising campaign is it will be a failure if no-one is going to see it. The business audience is a mobile group. They are relatively rich in money but poor in time. With an understanding of their way of life, we can identify their priorities and habits. Hence, we will be able to judge which are the most relevant contact points to reach them - to expose them to our messages when they are in the best mood to receive.

Sometimes, the best means of contact may not necessarily be in the form of traditional media. Other means such as events and sponsorships are a crucial part of the communication mix.

IAN OGILVIE, general manager, marketing UK HSBC

HSBC differs from most UK high-street banks because we are truly global.

Yet we are not a stereotypical global organisation, which can often mean distant and impersonal. Instead, HSBC is always a local bank, but one that operates all around the world.

And it's our job in marketing to make sure this comes across loud and clear to our customers and colleagues. We believe the brand to be our customers' experiences of us. So it follows that, in managing our brand, we have to approach everything that "touches" the customer with the same rigour as we apply to managing our external communications.

Principal among these is our people. Our brand is underpinned by our local understanding - both of markets around the world and of our individual customers - and by outstanding service.

Our commercial banking customers are satisfied with HSBC. However, among non-customers, consideration of HSBC as a business bank has been too low, so we needed to tell these business people of the benefits we could offer, to encourage them to join us. Business people seek expertise, experience and personal service from a bank.

Often, though, they feel these things are mutually exclusive - surely the bigger an organisation is, the less likely it is to value individuals?

Not so with HSBC. Our global presence reassures business customers (whether or not they actually trade internationally) that we have expertise/experience in abundance. But we are also committed to offering personal service.

That's why we have a local business banker in every HSBC branch, who understands the local business community and builds personal relationships with customers.

This became the focus for our advertising.

Different executions show the different benefits of our local business banker. For instance, someone knowledgeable to talk to face to face; someone comes to see you in your business environment to better understand your business. The ads build a picture of great personal service from a local bank that happens to be global - the world's local bank.