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First bite of the cherry

Published on Friday, 19 Oct 2012
Jason Chiu, CEO of Cherrypicks, likes to be daring, imaginative – and persistent.
Photo: Berton Chang

Mobile marketing pioneer Jason Chiu developed an early interest in technology which saw him study a degree in electrical and computer engineering at the University of Waterloo in Canada. After graduating, he joined Deloitte Consulting in Hong Kong, where he worked as a strategy consultant in high technology and communications.

In this role, he began to realise how mobile communications were going to change the world. In 2000, he founded and became CEO of Cherrypicks, one of the world’s first mobile-marketing firms.

Why did you get started in mobile marketing?
In 2000, I strongly believed that the entire ecosystem of mobile communications would change from voice to data, which would create a whole host of new companies and an entirely new value chain. As mobile devices are very personal, I believed mobile marketing and commerce would have substantial potential if delivered in a personal, timely and location-relevant manner.

I started Cherrypicks, but during the first seven years of our business we were not able to do the very sophisticated mobile marketing that we had envisioned because of issues with handset user experience. It was not until the iPhone came out in 2007 that our business started operating at the level we wanted it to. We were seven years early, but I am happy we were able to get to where we are right now.

How is Cherrypicks different from its competitors?
Cherrypicks means selecting the best and we are committed to selecting the best for our clients, brands and users. Marketing positioning is our key to success – it is what we choose to do, who we choose to serve and what we say no to. Edwin Land, founder of Polaroid, said: “Don’t do anything that someone else can do. Don’t undertake a project unless it is manifestly important and nearly impossible.” Our aim is to create something unexpected, something that is a pleasant surprise for users.

How do you create products with real impact?
I am a believer in the “Medici effect” – the power of innovation caused by different disciplines crossing over with one another. We live in a very mature world where creativity needs to associate with other things. Our team is therefore very diverse – I have people with backgrounds in 3D, movie-making, special effects, design and technology.
We also care about user experience from the top down. We focus on it and use technology to deliver it.

What do you see in the future for mobile marketing in Hong Kong?
I see a huge development potential in the payment and commerce sector for mobile marketing. Shoppers see a lot of products online but most of the shopping is done offline. With mobile marketing, we are able to bridge the online and offline world for shoppers, providing information where they can compare prices and look for offers on their phones.

This type of consumer marketing is coming along very strong. For example, when shoppers enter a boutique, they will be informed by their phones what is on special offer, how to get a gift or which credit cards have discounts.

With new technology we are able to track shoppers’ behaviour accurately and provide them with suitable promotions. Hong Kong is a place that focuses on retail and where shoppers are willing to try new things, so I think the trend of getting promotion information from phones will take off quickly.

What is your advice to people who are interested in entering the mobile marketing industry?
To be successful in the industry you need talent in many disciplines, such as technology, design and marketing. Be daring and imaginative. Believe in the Medici effect, because cross-discipline interaction can create things you cannot imagine.

Technology is about making life more convenient for people. If you are able to come up with something that can make life more convenient, nothing beats that.

What are your future plans for Cherrypicks?
We are looking to build our own global platform for products and brands. We will also continue to serve big global brands in the banking and luxury-product sector with our marketing positioning. Growing in the consumer marketing sector is also a priority.


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