Interview with Victor Lebon

The concept of Martech is quite trendy in China at present. At the same time, more and more companies in China are aware of the role of long-term customer success when they expand in every niche market. It’s time for them to think about how to brand themselves in a smart way, and DAM could be an answer. ‘icp’, a well-known DAM service provider, has opened its Shanghai office in order to help those big names to win in the next few years. Here in this piece, DAM CC did an interview with Victor Lebon, the CEO for EMEA and APAC at ‘icp’, looking at how he observes and thinks about DAM in China.

Here are Linkedin pages of Victor Lebon and ‘icp’.

(1) After joining ‘icp’, what makes you and ‘icp’ want to focus on DAM’s development in China?

The state of marketing technology in China presents both a unique opportunity, as well as a unique challenge.

On one hand, China is a unique representation of ‘best practice’ on how to accomplish a seamless digital transformation from a consumer perspective and leading the way in best practices for things like eCommerce and the merging of online and offline advertising & path to purchase.

On the other hand, the practice of Digital Asset Management is not as advanced as in other markets, specifically in the areas:

  • Process optimisation: How to do more with less, or more effectively with fewer points of intervention.
  • Global to Regional/Local: The Chinese market still represents a unique environment in its right, and many Chinese companies who are global brand owners still manage China differently/separately from global positioning (for all the right reasons, but not fully taking advantage of the re-use and re-purpose opportunity that DAM presents).
(2) Developing DAM in China isn’t an easy journey, would you like to share some of the toughest challenges you’ve been facing here?

In one sentence, the pace of change. The landscape (Not just of DAM, but Martech and the whole industry and country) is evolving and changing at a pace pretty much not seen anywhere in the world.

Whereas in some markets it is possible to plan 1, 2, 3, and 5 years in advance for strategic initiatives (of which DAM is certainly one), this is much harder to do in China because of how everything is constantly changing and evolving (for the better).

One example is when we have looked at how DAM can connect/integrate with eCommerce retailers (direct integration and distribution), something which is possible in markets such as UK & USA is almost inconceivable in China, because of how often the major retailers change/update their CMS platforms (sometimes measured in weeks!).

In addition, the ‘fast-track’ journey that China has been going through (and still is going through) for brand position, identity and purpose (which in other markets has been a practice for over a 100 years), for which the culture of branding has evolved not only rapidly, but in its own unique way. For example, global multi-brand organisations are the norm and quite common in other markets, but tend to be exception in China.

Ultimately the biggest opportunity and challenge with DAM is ‘To ensure brand consistency and compliance effectively, re-using and re-purposing content’. This is the same challenge in every single country, but what this means and how it is ‘tackled’ in different markets and cultures will be different. No one-size-fits-all.

(3) What does ‘icp’ need further to continue the business in China?

People and Relationships. ICP was founded on the principle of providing value as a true partner to global multi-brand clients. Whether this is in Creative Production, Marketing Technology (and Digital Asset Management), or Consultancy, this is providing the right value at the right time and building on and towards long-term relationships.

We need to build connections with Global multi-brand owners in China in order to act as a true partner:

  • Learn from them, understanding best practice in that market, what works, what doesn’t and why.
  • Bring our own knowledge and experiences and work together to see how these can be used/translated for China.
(4) According to your experience, what is the biggest difference between the Chinese market and the Western market in DAM.

Western global multi-brand owners will often have a global solution that they try to implement in China.

We don’t see this happening very much the other way around. Where there are Chinese global brands, the Western divisions of those brands (largely) are asked to do their own thing, separate/independent from ‘Global HQ’ in China.

This has various pros & cons:

  • Pros: Each market/region will have solutions which are more tailored/relevant for their specific environments/needs.
  • Cons: Potentially not fully leveraging the economy of scale that is possible, and duplicating work/effort.

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