We live in a region that continues to experience dramatic change. If one scours the business media one would think this change is all about commercial and financial ''growth''. However, to obsess about ''change'' in purely commercial terms is to miss the point: the financial and commercial gains are an outcome of complex political, social and cultural shifts in this part of the world.
And yet from a brand perspective, many service organisations fling themselves at the pillar of this growing wealth, and instead of looking at the cause of it, they fixate on the outcome. They assume those who are increasingly wealthy desire service brands that reflect their new-found status, achievements and financial success.
Much of the marketing output from luxury hotel brands, for example, assumes those who are successful yearn for a brand that mirrors their own success: catch-phrases such as ''for those who have achieved more in life'', ''for the discerning customer'' and ''for the elite few'' abound in Asia.
It's as though those who market their brands in such a way interpret the change that continues to unfold in this part of the world as ''better, richer, more''.
Brands have never really been about ''better'' though. Brands are about being different. So in order to create brands that are different, we need get away from all the traditional one-size-fits-all luxury hospitality model. Instead of continuing to adopt a 19th-century European-based approach to service (top hats, waistcoats, bellboys, the concierge, the matre d'htel and the rest), we need to create brands that respond to the unmet needs of those who comprise the changing guest base of hospitality brands in Asia.
Let's look at China for a moment. Eighty percent of the wealth in China is created and owned by those who are in their mid-40s or younger. They have grown up in an era of constant change. They do not know what ''predictable'' is. Many of them are creative, entrepreneurial risk-takers who are nonetheless down-to-earth and street-wise. Compare these folks to many of the hospitality brands that target them and there is, in too many cases, an obvious disconnect. The mainstream of luxury hotel brands in Asia remains a variously lavish, grand and opulent theatre stage.
That there are exceptions is undeniable. The Upper House in Hong Kong, which has avoided the contrived posturing of many boutique brands and the regal splendour of the grand hotels, is a fine example, as are The Westin in the financial district in Beijing, which has a refreshingly unstuffy sparkle, and the simple, contemporary elegance of The Puli in Shanghai. But far too much of what is on offer to those who can afford it is predictable, elitist nonsense.