Experts participated in the plenary session, “The World is Changing, Consumers are Changing - We Need to Change Too” at The Consumer Goods Forum (CGF) Global Summit 2023 at Kyoto, Japan.
Malina Ngai, Chief Executive Officer of A.S. Watson (Asia & Europe) joined panelists CGF Board Co-Chairs Frans Muller and Dirk Van de Put to address the global change agenda for retailers and manufacturers.
Despite the unprecedented challenges posed by the pandemic over the past few years, A.S. Watson Group, the world’s largest international health and beauty retailer, has continued to expand and grow. Compared to the year 2019 (prior to the pandemic), the company has increased its global presence by adding three new markets, namely UAE, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia, bringing the total to 28 markets, and has expanded its global store network to over 16,100 stores. Moreover, A.S. Watson’s global member base has grown significantly from 137 million in 2019 to 148 million this year. The resilience is a testament to A.S. Watson’s agility and adaptability in response to a rapidly changing world and customers.
“First of all, we should see changes as new opportunities. Today, consumers are becoming more emotional, more unpredictable, more educated, and more socially conscious. They want more choices, more deals, and have less time and loyalty,” Ngai said.
“It’s becoming very complex to run a retail business because it’s not only about trying to win customers’ share of wallet but also share of time. Time is a new currency. With the constant change in their behaviours, retailers and manufacturers need to adapt accordingly and with pace.”
Ngai explained the way to approach change, “Using the Chinese words for business ‘生意’ (Sheng Yi), it incorporates the concept of customer centricity. The first word 生 (Sheng) means lively, we need to be flexible and not rigid. The second character 意 (Yi) is made up of three parts: 立 – Determination, 日 – Every day and 心 – Think from Customers’ Perspective.
Ngai believes that to create sustainable growth, adaptive change is required and business needs to be determined to work tirelessly every day, listen to and meet customer needs.
“With sustainability being high on customers’ mind, businesses need to align their purpose with the customers’ values so that we can jointly create a more positive impact on the planet.”
Concluding her speech, Ngai urged all companies, big and small, from all geographic locations to work together towards sustainability, “The subject of sustainability is far-reaching and requires collective efforts between retailers and manufacturers to create significant impact.”