The Customer Experience

Social media marketing trends revolutionizing retail in Vietnam

“The store is media,” is the mantra in the best-selling book Reengineering Retail: The Future of Selling, written by retail experts Doug Stephens and Joseph Pine.

The book explains that “customer experience is the new marketing trend and the best way to generate demand for your retail offerings is through an experience so engaging that consumers can’t help but spend time in your place, give you their attention, and buy your offerings as a result.” The author defines a “remarkable experience” as those that are “engaging, unique, personalized, surprising and repeatable.”

This new global marketing trend has had a significant impact on how businesses in Vietnam market their products and services to their potential customers. Social networks have recently become some of the most influencing factors affecting Vietnamese businesses that also have resulted in personalized customer relationships.

A growing number of Vietnamese consumers are using e-commerce websites, such as Tiki, Lazada and Shopee, and often read product reviews before making a purchase decision. Customer feedback ratings through social networks are an essential process that helps businesses understand what customers need.

There is also a growing trend for businesses to use inbound marketing strategies rather than traditional outbound strategies. Inbound social media marketing is a new and more effective, less expensive marketing tool. It focuses on attracting customers, or leads, via company-created customized social media content, thereby having potential customers come to the company rather than the more expensive approach of paying marketers to catch a potential buyer’s attention.

According to recent reports from Statista on rewards programs, brand reputation, and reliable online reviews, it has more of an influence on consumer purchases than a recommendation from family and friends. Only 42% of consumers were influenced by word-of-mouth from family and friends and 68% of buyers were more influenced by online reviews.

The food and entertainment industry in Vietnam is no exception to this marketing trend. Vietnamese businesses have abandoned old-fashioned direct marketing methods such as outdated static websites that require constant updating and the use of environmentally unfriendly paper-based promotional coupons and flyers to promote their businesses.

Viettel Mobile has been on an advancing leading-edge technology such as artificial intelligence, face recognition, NFC (Near Field Communication), IOT (Internet of Things) and new mobile payment options. Hoang Anh Duc of Viettel Mobile Product Center explained how these technologies will be applied where clients can perform transactions on their own without human support: “At Viettel we focus on personalized customer experience, allowing the client to optimize the products/services provided to customers. Also, artificial intelligence allows customer behavior analysis to provide a basis for customer care and build new customer development orientations.

We optimize the customer experience, especially in the banking sector to make transactions appear seamless. We are applying face recognition software and artificial intelligence to make transactions, in this way customers won’t have to go to the bank and provide more identification to carry out simple transactions, while also minimizing risk.”

Duc continued: “Viettel is also the leading provider of several payment services related to these two new technologies, such as NFC payments at BRT bus stations and payments made at outlets. Vietnam has more than 60,000 merchants accepting payment via various IoT technologies such as NFC technology and is growing very fast.

Imagine a scenario where you go to a restaurant and a variety of your favorite dishes are offered via an artificial intelligence platform right at the dinner table. And after dinner, you won’t have to wait for the check; the money will be deducted automatically. Or later when you are out on the town planning to enjoy a movie or visit the theatre, you can avoid queueing at the box office for a long time and easily buy a movie or theatre ticket right in the lobby by scanning a smart poster. Afterward, simply show your receipt on your smartphone as you enter the theatre without the need for a paper ticket. This is our vision for Vietnam, and we are working tirelessly to achieve it “

A new marketing app called GO-ID, developed by a Vietnamese-Canadian joint venture social marketing company will be launched just in time for Valentine’s dinner scene. The new startup is an all-in-one solutions provider of consumer engagement services that creates customized inbound marketing campaigns. They specialize in improving online negative consumer reviews and creating consumer engagement programs such as their customized “Check-in Selfie Challenge” promotional program using their own customized Facebook app.

GO-ID also offers customized NFC smart labels, posters, smart wrist bands for conferences and tabletop advertising hubs that are designed for cafés, restaurants and the event promotion industry. Their latest social marketing tool is a new customized electronic social advertising hub that also features automatic Wi-Fi connection so wait staff are not bothered by repeated requests for WI-FI passwords from customers and comes complete with multiple phone-charging stations for customers to keep their smartphones fully charged. The new advertising hubs also incorporate a color touchscreen to play customized promotional videos that also serves as an interactive menu for patrons to order and pay for their food online. The wireless advertising hubs are rechargeable and can be placed at the front of a restaurant so customers can view any lunch or dinner specials while waiting to be seated or can be placed at the customers’ table. The devices can be updated with customized promotions so that each tap on the unit gives merchants valuable data on the customer’s order in real-time.

These are the types of technological advancements that improve the merchant’s relationship with their customers. Customer relationships are no longer made of one-time interactions but become a continuous long-term relationship especially when integrated with a customized rewards program. One of the most effective ways to increase the number of customers signing up for a loyalty program is by tapping into this exact moment and having the customers sharing experience through their social contacts.

Every customer is now empowered to give feedback in real-time right at the place of business while using a product or service. This social marketing tool not only promotes customer loyalty but also influences customers to leave positive online reviews. These reviews are then shared within their social networks for their social contacts to view, which then creates the sharing of interactive buyer experiences to the general public.

Pizza Belga is one such restaurant in Hanoi that has adopted the new inbound social marketing trend and serves high-quality, authentic, Italian cuisine. Kevin Boudreaux from Belgium and his Vietnamese wife Hai Linh Nguyen founded the restaurant. Hai Linh proudly explained how their social media and technology marketing campaign has positively impacted their business.

“Social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Google Business, TripAdvisor and local sites such as Foody has played a crucial role in our restaurant business,” she explained. “Managing a successful business nowadays requires not only good knowledge of our core function, such as pizza making in our case, but also other skills including social media marketing. I believe that social media can bring you new customers and high-quality products and good service make those same customers come back. For example, we recently launched the “Happy Moments” inbound social media campaign which turned out to be quite successful.” Talking about the experience, the founders of the restaurant reported how the promotion was positively received by their customers.

“This was the first time we ran such a program because we were searching for a more authentic way to promote Pizza Belga. Instead of promoting the restaurant through traditional advertisements, we encouraged our customers to comment about Pizza Belga on social media since customers’ opinions have more of an impact. Many of our customers enjoyed the program and participated,” she said.

Pizza Belga also initiated another socially conscious media campaign for the Hanoi Pet Rescue Center. Kevin said that the objective of the campaign was not only to promote the restaurant directly, but also to raise the awareness of animal protection and to raise funds for Hanoi Pet Rescue Center.

Pizza Belga has also paid close attention to customers’ needs and, as a result, are now offering more vegetarian options on their menu and were encouraged by their customers to eliminate plastic water bottles and plastic packaging.

“As far as social media and technology are concerned when it comes to business, we believe that it is mandatory for business owners nowadays to understand social media alongside other related technologies while also being socially responsible,” Kevin explained. “These tools will not only promote our business but will give insight into how our customers relate to our restaurant.

It is evident that with the success of restaurants such as Pizza Belga, the trend now is that customers care more about their experience with the brand than they do about the price of the product. Businesses that listen to their customers will be rewarded by them as they seek more interaction and engagement from brands in real-time when their voice matters the most.

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