Where Are The People?



Have we reviewed pricing to see if we’ve covered the cost with our base margin profitability requirement? We need to ensure that this quarter’s earnings are on track and we follow through on market consolidation.”

 Sounds familiar?

A regular corporate meeting-speak taking place week in week out across most corporate offices in Asia. Are you able to spot what’s missing?

As a marketer, who’s worked across industries and countries in Asia over two decades, I’ve noticed that businesses, irrespective of size, operate on a product-centric basis and today that amazes me! It amazes me because, at the end of the day, business is all about people! It’s done by people, with people and for the people.

Yet organisations rarely focus on ‘people’ when it comes to doing business. We focus on product, market, pricing and profitability.  But we don’t take into account the people involved!


Why People?

People make everything happen.

An organisation exists because of the people it interacts with– staff, partners, customers and other stakeholders. People who make up its eco-system. Take any example from our daily life and you’ll see that we interact with people whatever be the medium.

Yet why is it that business is never people-centric?

Is it due to the way we are conditioned into doing business? In thinking along the lines of ‘controlling business outcomes? If so those days are far gone.

Business growth still appears to be using the classical approach of having a ‘USP’—unique selling proposition—from a product perspective. Not that this is wrong but it just isn’t the right tool for the current times.  


Where’s Business Happening?

Asia is where global business growth is occurring. Keep in mind it is home to 48 countries each having its unique sociocultural foundation.

Business in Asia has been heavily impacted upon by social practices stemming from post-colonisation developments, and more recently the global financial crises and rapid proliferation of social media. 

This sociocultural foundation drives the Asian citizens in their daily behaviour. This in turn impacts upon any organisation operating in Asia.

Can we afford to ignore this?


Business-As-Usual in Asia?

Asian population numbers often throw off product centric projections. It’s not just a case of a having a great product at a better price made available easily! There’s more to it.

The Asian market-space has two distinct market segments with one foundation. Whilst global growth is occurring in Asia, there exists a hyper-growth opportunity segment titled the 3rd Billion, or the global Muslim community.

62% of the world’s Muslim population is in Asia. If we look through a numbers filter it’s an awesome market size; enough to make any CEO salivate!

But proceed with caution!

Asian Muslims come from the same sociocultural fabric like their other Asian fellow citizens.
Faith is one part of their identity. Culture is the other.

Culture forms their behaviour. But here two key differences come about:

  1. As a group they are very young with people under 30 making up 58% of the population .
  2. Their value system is from their culture which coupled with social media and spirituality, makes them seek rich, interconnected experiences.

Quoting Dr. Jonathan A J Wilson—Senior Lecturer & Course Leader, University of Greenwich and Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Islamic Marketing,–“The global consumer artisan as a second supplementary career who seeks rich interconnected experiences and views the world through multi-screens”.


This Impacts Business.

Businesses spend millions on research, intelligence, technical competencies, and product & process innovations, all for growth.

Who does all of this? People!

But what’s need is to ensure effective integration of both soft & hard skills that result in internal and external efficiency of a business.

In doing business in Asia and specifically with the Muslim community this comes into acute focus. Ensuring this integration from a people-perspective becomes a must.

A shift needs to take place within organisations, to truly place their most valuable asset people at the top of their priorities. Organisations who do this, can guarantee a domino-effect on their processes.


That’s Challenging.

It involves understanding the sociocultural trends affecting the environment and figuring out how you can create a relationship with that environment.

The starting point is behaviour. Are the Asian Muslim consumers and the non-Muslim consumers behaviourally different?

Whilst by the faith-filter the Asian Muslims outnumber their counterparts; by the sociocultural filter Asians have strong commonalities, behaviour wise.

How do we go about it?

  1. On board the behavioural indicators of all groups of people connected to the business. Understand why these behaviours occur.
  2. Take the understanding and look at employees. See the work culture in a new light and align this to the organisational mission. Bring about alignment of employees’ personal goals with organisational goals.
  3. Lastly take a collaborative approach and share the organisational mission with all involved in the business. It’ll result in having a strategy with a value proposition that fits the environment.

The next time you go into your corporate meetings have a conversation that goes like: “How’s our Authenticity, Balance & Communication scorecard? Let’s keep tracking the engagement and the referral we should be generating.”

Every journey starts with a small step. Now’s the time to look at people and adapt your business to be of value to them.