#BrandZ100: Q&A with CMO of China’s most valuable brand

Chris Tung, CMO at Alibaba, talked to Doreen Wang, Kantar China CEO and global head of BrandZ, about how the company served their consumers during the crisis.

Chris Tung, CMO at Alibaba, talked to Doreen Wang, Kantar China CEO and global head of BrandZ, about how the company served their customers during the crisis and the ‘new retail’ ecosystem evolving; ahead of the launch of the annual BrandZ Top 100 Most Valuable Global Brands 2020 via diginar earlier this week.

1. Alibaba is a company aiming to live for 102 years. Over this past year, Alibaba’s brand equity continues to grow – what are the drivers behind Alibaba’s growth?

We keep challenging ourselves: what is the evolution of the lifestyle, what is the trend, what are the unmet demands from a digital lifestyle standpoint? We have been investing so much resources to build a big data driven operations system to support our merchants to drive their goods on our platform. One year ago, we launched this Alibaba operating system to support brand clients to manage business more efficiently and support business transformation in a seamless way. Those are the things we have done right. Get the fundamentals upgraded; get the infrastructure upgraded for our merchants; and the experience upgraded for consumers. So, if you keep innovating in the right direction, you get the benefits of growth.

2. During these past few months, can you share with us more examples of what Alibaba has done for consumers and merchants, especially SMME businesses to help them recover?

COVID-19 has been a wake-up call for the retailers. Many realise, that not only do they have to do it, but they have to accelerate the power of digital transformation and really think through how they can integrate the power of online management and offline and create a new ecosystem, leveraging Alibaba technology. This is what ‘new retail’ is about. It is about a seamless experience for shoppers in a brick and mortar store, as when they want to order at home, they get the same level of quality of service as if online and offline retail is designed to be one system. So, there is a lot of infrastructure we have built to realise this digitisation strategy there. This is definitely a big change we are seeing right now. Almost every retailer wants to talk about how to accelerate the process and also elevate the experience for their shoppers by integrating online and offline.

3. Do you want to share some of the experiences that Alibaba has provided?

The idea really, is that whenever, wherever, the consumer wants a service of product, they can find it in the most convenient way – to get it from the brand. We call it another wave of ‘consumption upgrade’, driven by the brand and Alibaba together. Many brands may have branded retailer’ outlets offline. It will be seamlessly integrated into the whole digital service network. It becomes very strategic to mobilise all physical locations for all your brand fans.

4. What do you foresee for the Alibaba brand’s development. What are the opportunities and challenges as a brand leader?

We talked about reaching the 1 trillion US dollar GMV mark a few years ago. I’m sure many in the team didn’t believe in that. It’s a huge target. Again, we did it. I think that helps; keep delivering your target. When you keep delivering and hitting your target, that confidence comes and that helps you to dream bigger, holistically. We have formed a habit, a culture, to find the pathway to success. How did we get there? Alibaba has a polarising characteristic – on the one hand, we are a dreamer and dream big; but on the other hand, we put so much focus on execution, and to hit the target. When we have a goal, people sit down and figure out the pathway to that target. Green has been placed on top of our CSR agenda as a company. That is one thing we can leverage. The other thing we keep innovating is the way parcels are delivered through our logistics company. There are initiatives being driven to reduce our carbon footprint. Another is our live streaming – that reduces carbon footprint too. A lot of resource-consuming offline events can be done in a cloud-based way. The pandemic has taught us lots of lessons and the way to conserve energy is one.

5. As CMO of China’s most valuable brand, the role of CMO has been evolving every year, every week. What are your tips to the marketers around the world? How can we make ourselves ready for the market of the future?

For the last two years, many CMO titles have been modified. I personally don’t think it is necessary, as regardless of our title, it is really about building brands. In an old world or digital world, the brand still has to resonate with the consumer and you still have to keep your promise with the customer and the consumer has to have that trust and love for you. More so, because it is a fragmented world, so the power of brands becomes even more important than before. I am very sure that the power and importance of a brand is the key job for marketing professionals. Take great pride in that. Don’t forget we are here to build everlasting great brands for the consumer. It is a promise to our customers.

*For the full diginar recording and to download the digital assets of the BrandZ 100 Most Valuable Global Brands, go to: There are longer versions of the interviews, a copy of the full report for  download, and a diginar app to watch the brand documentaries and more.


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