Pomelo CMO: Beyond convenience, shoppers want novelty

When it comes to marketing, Jean Thomas, chief marketing officer of Pomelo knows a thing or two in his six years of experience working across a spectrum of marketing, B2C and eCommerce. Prior to being CMO of Pomelo Fashion, he helmed the role of CMO in Lazada Singapore in 2019, after the eCommerce company integrated RedMart products into its platform. He first joined RedMart in 2017, as the director of brand and acquisition marketing.

Last month under his leadership, Pomelo debuted its in-app live stream tech with the launch of its new Spring Summer collection. The fashion brand was said to be unveiling immersive in-app capability, in a bid to bring fans closer to the heart of the fashion experience through technological innovation. Showcasing a more engaging omnichannel experience, the launch of the Spring Summer 2020 collection will be fully livestreamed via the Pomelo app, and allow fans to get an exclusive sneak peek at the collection ahead of its official launch.

In this series of The Futurist, Thomas shares with Marketing what he thinks the future of marketing would look like in an eCommerce space and what are some of the trends he is looking forward to.

Marketing: What are some of the areas of growth in marketing you hope to see in 2020?

Thomas: The idea of new retail is very promising and still very relevant this year. There are lots of possibilities for companies to explore innovative concepts and ideas to revolutionise the way consumers discover products. In addition to more convenience, consumers have increasingly been looking for a unique and novel shopping experience, and the focus towards new retail is a step in that direction.

Another area I see lots of potential for this year is subscription models for different products. It's a concept that hasn't been explored in Southeast Asia as much, but we've seen the success of this model, especially with clothing, in other regions. With consumer behaviour continuing to shift rapidly towards digital, there are more opportunities for brands to experiment with new business models.

Marketing: What are some trends you are excited about?

Thomas: The popularity of social platforms like TikTok is very exciting and could pave the way for other platforms. Companies have the potential to utilise these platforms to differentiate themselves from competitors and effectively target specific demographics — the younger generation in particular.

Technological change continues to accelerate, with online retail companies beginning to focus on personalisation, a trend that is likely to continue through 2020, leading to a more personalised, tailored customer experience. Customer experience has become a priority for companies in general, so I think we’ll continue to see companies across different industries investing in better services and new ways to deliver these services, especially across Southeast Asia. ECommerce, in general, has the potential for even more growth in this region, where the internet economy continues to expand with the shift in consumer behaviour and create more opportunities for digital services. 


Marketing: What is an overhyped area in marketing?

Thomas: Concept stores are used as a marketing tactic often but tend to deliver a very traditional retail experience. The purpose of retail is to connect consumers to products in a way that’s as seamless as possible, and concept stores often don’t deliver on this. They can work if they’re done right, but many companies forget that the most important aspect of this is driving a better and more interesting customer experience not just some marketing gimmicks.


Marketing: What is the next frontier for eCommerce?

Thomas: We’ll continue to see very rapid growth in eCommerce throughout the year, as companies across Asia continue to scale up their businesses. Increased competition in this region will lead to an improved shopping experience for consumers overall as brands aim to provide more seamless customer journeys. This should also enable customers to gain access to a wider variety of options.

We expect the next frontier for e-commerce to become an experience that is less transactional, and a move towards more content driven, fully integrated digital services that are able to connect with consumers. We started to see the beginning of this in 2019, with live-streaming and AR being used not only for content marketing, but as ways to enhance the user experience through technology, and I expect this to continue through 2020.


Marketing: How can marketers make themselves indispensable to companies?

Thomas: It’s important to keep innovating. If you’re able to come up with new ideas and continue to innovate while achieving growth at the same time, you’ll be very valuable to any company.

The article first appeared in the January-February edition of The Futurist edition.