The Fourth Industrial Revolution topped the agenda at the recent World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting of New Champions, also known as ‘Summer Davos’, which took place in Tianjin, China, on September 18-20. As more than 2,000 leaders from 90 countries met to shape the impact and use of science & technology on geopolitical, economic & social agendas, CKGSB’s presence at Summer Davos was clear, with Associate Dean and Professor of Marketing ZHU Rui (Juliet) and several prominent alumni speaking on how societies can be more innovative in light of recent disruptive technologies. Joining Prof. Zhu were CKGSB alumni Jack Ma, Founder of Alibaba Group; Jiang Xipei, Founder and Chairman of the Board of Pan East Holding Group; and Jiang Tao, Co-founder and Senior Vice President of IFLYTEK.
Professor Zhu—who has served as a Member of the World Economic Forum’s Network of Global Agenda Councils and is now a regular speaker at WEF—spoke on the session “From Online to Offline: The Retail Renaissance,” where she discussed the latest trends and breakthroughs of retailing with Jan Metzger, Head of Corporate and Investment Banking at Citi Asia-Pacific; Rashid Aleem Qureshi, Chairman and CEO of Nestlé China; Zhang Jianqiu, CEO of Yili; and Zhao Xinyu, President of Nielsen China.
Professor Zhu Rui shed light on the changes and challenges that technology has brought to retail from a marketing and behavioral perspective. She first pointed out that technology can help retailors to better pinpoint their customers’ needs. In the past, a key challenge retailers faced when conducting surveys was that people’s attitudes or preferences towards certain products were not necessarily consistent with their purchasing decisions, making it difficult to predict consumers’ behaviors. With big data, however, retailors can analyze customers’ online and offline actions and improve their precision marketing.
Zhu Rui also stressed the ever more important role that social interaction plays in consumption. Purchasing sometimes comes from social activities, she explained; thus, people’s consumption decisions are more inclined to be affected by others’ recommendations.
There are also challenges brought by technology-facilitated retailing. As people have easier access to a wide variety of merchandises of different types and quality-levels, it’s harder for customers to choose the right one. This also leads to the problem of over-consumption. To overcome these two challenges, the core lies in the suppliers’ sense of social responsibility—their ability to balance sustainability and profit.
CKGSB alumni at 2018 Summer Davos
“There’s an old Chinese saying: ‘militarists are the backbone of a country.’ Now I believe businessmen are the backbone of a country. If there is anything wrong with businesses or the economy, no family will stay intact.”
“Companies will never be challenge-free. A stable economy will produce a common type of company. However, a bad economic situation is exactly where companies have the opportunity to grow.”
—Jack Ma, Founder of Alibaba Group and CKGSB
“Companies should be capable of pinpointing the major challenges of their customers, the market and society. We will always enjoy our advantages as long as we can tackle these challenges.”
“My hope is that there will one day be no boundaries between SOEs and private companies, with all companies treated in the same way and resources allocated to those that stay competitive.”
—Jiang Xipei, Founder and Chairman of Pan East Holding Group
“Jobs that require a high EQ and IQ will not be easily replaced by robots.”
—Jiang Tao, Co-founder and Senior Vice President of IFLYTEK