China 2016: CEO Q&A | Edward Cheng
Tencent is the most valuable brand in China and a global leading Internet giant. Through its products and services, users can have text, voice and video chats (WeChat and QQ), immerse themselves in an exciting virtual world of games, comics, literature and movies, search news and information, and buy products and services online. Established in 1998, Tencent grew in brand value at a 40 percent compounded annual growth rate to $82.1 billion, since entering the BrandZTM China ranking six years ago. It is the world’s fifth most valuable technology brand, after Apple, Google, Microsoft and IBM, and ranks number 11 in the most recent ranking of the BrandZTM Top 100 Most Valuable Global Brands.
How would you summarize the Tencent brand’s many aspects?
We aim to enrich people’s lives by weaving Internet technology across everyday life to stimulate work, play and spiritual needs. Tencent focuses on two key areas. First, we focus on acting as a connector. We connect people with people, with services, and with devices based on instant messaging and social platforms like Weixin/WeChat and QQ. Second, we focus on digital entertainment and content. Tencent owns a range of interactive entertainment platforms, including games, music, videos, online literature and comics.
What do you think Tencent’s central role is in people’s lives?
Our role is connecting people with people. By ofering a tool of instant communication we have enhanced connections between people by making connections more diverse, closer, and warmer. With the rise of mobile, every key part of the economy and society will need to be connected with the Internet. With this connection, it has become possible for us to make commercial functions and social services an integral part of people’s lives by providing a truly human-centric user experience and bringing benefits to more people. Tencent is committed to a future that is mobile Internetcentric. We are building a mobile one-stop online lifestyle services platform to make life more convenient for our users.
With the rise of a new generation, what opportunities and challenges does Tencent face?
Young people are more assertive and interaction-oriented. In the past, a brand’s DNA was expected to remain constant, but in the Internet age, even the brand DNA needs to evolve. This is a challenge for any brand, but Tencent is well positioned to respond. We have always put the user first. We prioritize everything based on the value to the customers, and we have been able to rapidly respond to changes in user preferences. Users are our best product managers and help us stay ahead of the curve and innovate constantly. Our pan-entertainment strategy is an example of our commitment to change to meet user’s needs in digital entertainment. There are five major trends in the age of pan-entertainment: 1 Forms of entertainment will be no longer independent from each other but will be interconnected and integrated across the board; 2 The boundary between content creator and content consumer will be increasingly blurred as everyone can be a creator; 3 The thriving of the follower economy fueled by the mobile Internet will substantially increase the creation of celebritygenerated intellectual properties; 4 With the wide availability of interesting interactive experiences, entertainment thinking will likely reshape people’s lifestyles; 5 With the combination of science, technology, talent and ubiquitous connectivity, Internet+ will bring about a great age of abundant creativity.
How is strong branding important to Tencent? And what factors have made Tencent a strong brand?
First, we need a strong brand to guide us in our eforts to explore new possibilities and consider the emerging issues and consequences. Second, Tencent is a platform from which an ecosystem with partners has formed and is evolving constantly. A strong brand facilitates consensus, makes an ecosystem diversified and dynamic, and leads us to a common direction. Third, we hope that in the future Tencent will be perceived not only as a company with many well-known products, but also as a widely respected enterprise in the world. We hope our brand can motivate our employees and attract more talent to join us in this journey to realize our vision together. Our brand growth has been aligned with the maturing and development or our organization and business.
What skills will marketers need in the future?
Marketers will need the ability to build an ecosystem. The importance of the Internet continues to grow as it connects all industries and empowers them to grow further. This is what we call Internet+. Successful development of the Internet+ strategy requires efort from the entire society, and not just Tencent alone. We look forward to cooperating with partners in other industries to provide users with better services. We will continue to focus on user needs to provide the best user experience and explore new possibilities with informed understanding of user’s needs. For example, in our exploration to connect the Internet with public services, we have already brought to life many interesting cases with good word of mouth. We evolve and keep up with the times. In the mobile Internet age, every user’s feedback will be instant and influential, which brand owners need to be constantly in tune with and responsive to. Therefore, apart from brand building and listening to users, the ability to quickly respond and adapt to changes with flexibility will be essential. These are the skills that marketers must absolutely be equipped with.