Chinese marketers adopt ‘concubine mindset’ with agencies: R3
By Jenny Chan on Mar 5, 2012 (21 hours ago)

SHANGHAI – An updated R3:GC study shows around 64 per cent of Chinese marketers are satisfied with their agencies, leading them to maintain relations with up to three full-time roster agencies

Global norms, by contrast, indicate a satisfaction level of 82 per cent. Four years ago, marketers worked with an average of 1.4 agencies, according to the study. Now the median number is 2.0. In addition, the average length of service has shortened to 3.3 years for all agencies and 2.5 years for digital agencies.

Chinese marketers have a “concubine mindset” as they are pursued by agencies of all sorts for creative, media, digital and marketing services, said Sabrina Lee, general manager of R3:GC.

“A marketer is getting on average 46 calls a year – that’s a call a week – from competitive agencies and in addition is having 15 meetings a year – more than one a month – with an agency other than one of their own,” elaborated Greg Paull, principal of R3.

One of the main reasons for the agency promiscuity by marketers is the pronounced trend in diversification of services, as the role of specialist agencies has grown “dramatically” in China, Paull said.

Sixty-nine per cent of marketers are now looking to work with a digital specialist agency, up from 52 per cent in 2010, for example. There are more than 50 local digital agencies in China, working across all aspects of social media, search and web creative.

Along with this diversification comes the management of multiple agency partners. “We’re increasingly seeing multinational agencies looking at core brand strategies, with the executions done by local agencies,” Paull added.

The study also highlights the fact the local agencies are outperforming multinationals in many areas, especially digital solutions.

“Marketers rate local agencies higher overall in terms of proactivity, timeliness, client servicing and involvement of senior management,” Lee commented. In terms of overall perception, six of the top 14 digital agencies were local (although OgilvyOne leads the pack).

However the news is not all bad for multinationals, who trump locals in terms of strategic planning and integration. In the same study, MediaCom was rated best overall agency for the third consecutive time, with Maxus also scoring high marks in media planning.

The China Agency Scope study by R3:GC, a joint venture between R3 and Grupo Consultores, involved five months of face-to-face interviews with more than 300 senior marketers in China from brands such as Coca-Cola, L’Oreal, McDonald’s, Diageo, China Mobile, Yili, Lenovo and Shanghai Jahwa. Previous waves of the research were conducted in 2006, 2008 and 2010. Among marketers, Apple, Coca-Cola, Nike and P&G are the most respected companies, as judged by their peers. Other brands on the top of people’s minds include local players such as Vancl and Wang Lao Ji.