Crispian Dawes: Nurturing Human Relationships in the Retail Ecosystem through an Honest Exchange of Values

Today, Consumer Brand and Retail businesses are pushing the boundaries of mobile technology to improve their performance. Technology can empower them with deep knowledge and opportunities to boost their competitiveness and value. In fact, a big secret to the success of the biggest retail brands in the world is the smart but effective application of emerging consumer technologies.

But introducing technology without ethical filters can create sensitive commercial and privacy issues. Whilst global legislation has been committed to protecting broad and ethical use of the explosion in consumer data, the incentive to mine deeper for commercial advantage remains greatly appealing. Ideally industry self-regulation would have naturally established and equilibrium with consumer privacy interests, and now there is also clear evidence of a consumer zeitgeist toward customers having more direct control over their privacy, tracking and the use of their personal data.

Crispian Dawes, Founder, Imfree

The inevitability of the mobile first generation starting to resist being productised by their data is becoming a visible tipping point as popular social platforms demonstrate to consumers that every user has a unique media value, and they are personally capable of monetising the value they create in these environments.

‘Cris Dawes’, a globally recognised and awarded advertising and marketing veteran, firmly believes in respecting peoples’ personal data and media value. Working globally with some of the worlds’ biggest consumer and retail brands most recently as the former EVP for Interpublic Group for Asia Pacific, his passion has been the ethical application of mobile technology between brands and consumers. So, in 2013, he made a big professional change: he retired from the mainstream advertising industry and relocated to New York city, to develop and to establish his very own ethical advertising platform. This was the birth of ‘Imfree’, an innovative mobile media platform designed to democratize the value of consumer engagement. In extreme contrast to conventional advertising approaches, this service empowers users to be in-charge of the value of their personal information and choose the brands they engage with based on an open and honest shared value exchange.

Imfree is the world’s first ‘personal value compass’ because it brings people together with the brands they love in relevant engagements at the right time and in the right place. Its key working principle is in offering potential consumers tangible value in exchange for their engagement and lets them stay in-charge of their own personal information.

Imfree’s Success Story: Empowering Human Beings in the Retail Ecosystem

“If you believe the universal truth that everyone is valuable to someone, we pursued an opportunity to create an open and honest value exchange between consumers and the brands they love. Global marketing momentum has largely been focused on doing things ‘to’ consumers rather than doing things ‘for’ them in an authentic, human conversation. We sought to unlock the shared value in the relationship between brands and their customers and we found a way that all parties can mutually benefit from this more deeply shared personal relationship,” Mr. Crispian Dawes, founder and CEO at ‘Imfree’, states.

Imfree’s respect for customers’ personal information becomes a solid foundation to support brand and retail businesses ethically. The platform allows businesses to broadcast hyper-local and hyper-contextual offers to people, sensitive to the time of the day, their individual interests in combination with exclusive discounts, multi-buy offers and rewards like free mobile internet data. By presenting new and excited customers with incentivized and promotional offers, they encourage new customers to come forward and thus allow for a precious opportunity to create a loyal customer relationship.

Imfree also supports independent retail brands and businesses greatly. As they register with the service, they can start publishing offers instantly and connect with customers in the local community easily. They receive easy-to-use, helpful and unique consumer-related information to enrich their customer relationships. Imfree’s customer dashboard has breakthrough features like individual customers’ permission based cross category purchase behaviour, re-targetable conversion modelling and real time customer value tracking to grow their business continuously.

Imfree is inspired by blockchain technology, supporting individuals to treat their personal information carefully like their own currency as well as giving brands trustable customer insights. It’s a sovereign system with each consumer having full control over their information and they can choose who sees their information selectively.

Thus far, Imfree is active in two international locations: the Philippines and Australia. Within the Philippines – a developing nation – the high cost of mobile internet data led to very high penetration of ad blockers and a resentment toward mobile data eating advertising. So, in response, the Imfree mobile app gave consumers the ability to choose and earn value from relevant brand engagements and rapidly scaled to over 300,000 members in just one month. Their shared value exchange system also proofed successfully in Australia thus establishing that everyone is valuable to someone, and a shared value exchange was genuinely scalable globally.

“I can’t reveal too much at the moment, but we are working with some of the world’s most popular retailers and brands. So, the next 6-12 months promise to take Imfree out of the beta phase to take its position firmly on the international stage,” Mr. Dawes shared.

Lessons and Secrets to Success from Mr. Dawes’s Career

Mr. Dawesgrew up on New Zealand’s north island, having a penchant for creativity with a competitive nature. He won his first advertising award at the age of 10, for creating an advertisement to encourage primary school children to open a savings account at a local bank. He spent his prize of $5 on two books exploring space travel that sparked his lifelong curiosity to look beyond conventional boundaries. He started his career as a children’s television writer, but soon got into advertising. Over the years, he has held senior positions at marquis agencies throughout the industry, participating and leading development of some of the world’s most well known brand communications platforms along the way. From award winning global campaigns for Toyota, Heineken, and Unilever to the repositioning of HSBC as ‘the World’s Local Bank’. Having lived in many locations around the world like New Zealand, across Asia and now split between the USA and Australia, he has learnt to appreciate different points of view, acknowledging this as the biggest lesson in his career.

Mr. Dawes acknowledges these experiences have defined his approach to leadership. He believes that leadership comes with mindfulness to accept that no one has all the answers and we must ask for help from others, to broaden our horizons. “Part of a leader’s role is to bring the best out of the left and right side of a team members brain to create frictions so that amazing things can happen. Celebrate the friction, challenge the confusion and embrace the dark, because without that and the mentality to navigate through it, you’re never going to get people to the light. We should always seek to nudge and course correct, rather than critique and stifle,” he says.

“Like many entrepreneurs, I keep myself mentally and physically fit. I set aside an hour a day for exercise and 20 minutes each morning and evening to meditate and synthesise. I keep myself motivated by assessing objectives and outcomes in a balanced way, because of the entrepreneur’s paradox – the conflict between managing a deep personal investment and trying to remain objective about accomplishing goals. Over time I’ve also learned the importance of the careful management away from are lentless pursuit of perfection towards more of a passion for precision. Perfection is elusive, but precision can get you within microns of perfection,” Mr. Dawes concludes, by sharing his secrets to success.