Sales / Marketing

A busload of marketing excellence

by Jacky Wong

Winnie Ng, executive director, The Kowloon Motor Bus Co Ltd
Photo: Wallace Chan

Bus passengers get the benefits of expanding infotainment

Turning an ordinary, non-descript bus compartment into fun-filled infotainment has enriched millions of Hong Kong passengers' daily commutes.

Introduced by KMB in December 2000, Roadshow is a multi-media on board (MMOB) service which provides infotainment programmes to passengers on LCD monitors. It also offers a network of transit vehicle exterior advertising and bus model merchandising business.

Winnie Ng, executive director of the Kowloon Motor Bus Co Ltd, says the birth of Roadshow came out of the company's "rejuvenation campaign" in 1999, which aimed to help the company project a new and energetic corporate image and expand its young market segment.

Like other marketing plans, the "rejuvenation campaign" embraced the "4P" (product, place, price and promotion) elements for the company branding build-up, Ms Ng explains.

Under the new direction, all new buses were painted in metallic champagne colours and bus drivers were outfitted with new uniforms, giving passengers a sense of modernity. The network's bus shelters were given a facelift, reasonable fares were promoted and a series of new TV commercials was targeted at young passengers.

Ms Ng says that before the launch of the new branding exercise, a survey showed that passengers' average daily bus commuting time was around 50 minutes and that they desired both comfort and air-conditioning. KMB's challenge was to add to the existing comfort and produce an even more enjoyable riding experience for its passengers.

While some marketers complain about the lack of creativity in developing new marketing concepts to support a branding build-up, Ms Ng disagrees.

"Creativity is not generated only outside the frame," she says. "Sometimes, it can be triggered within the frame or under limited resources, which is illustrated in our experience of developing Roadshow."

Ms Ng indicates that an innovative idea could be successfully developed into a good marketing plan, if the company has the mission of moving itself ahead and it has a clear understanding of both the market needs and the direction to take.

She also advises marketers to keep their finger on the pulse of the latest market trends and to have a passion to strive for success because only passion can help generate the creativity needed to produce good products and services.

Roadshow was developed by leveraging KMB's mass passenger flow and has entered its sixth year of development. Many passengers nowadays consider it a "must-have" service. As a tribute to the success of the MMOB concept it has been widely copied by other public transport such as the Kowloon Canton Railway and the Mass Transit Railway.

KMB has witnessed substantial growth in the market since the inauguration of its MMOB service. It now has a mass audience base of four million passengers daily and has 100 per cent market penetration in the franchised vehicle market. The company also manages a nationwide multi-dimensional advertising network in mainland China covering more than 200 cities and has plans to further develop this market.

Despite increased competition, Ms Ng remains upbeat about the development of the MMOB product. In future, Roadshow will explore the possibility of developing other special platforms and of utilising advanced technology to widen its exposure, while at the same time its content will also be diversified to cater to target needs.

That's infotainment

  • Innovation translated into marketing success
  • Dominant market penetration achieved
  • Technology key to enhanced growth
  • MMOB widely copied and set to expand

Taken from Career Times 16 March 2007
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