Digital growth accelerated over the previous 12 months in Asia Pacific, with internet users up 15% to pass the 1.9 billion mark. There are now also 4 billion mobile phone subscriptions across APAC, a penetration rate of 96%.
These findings have exciting implications for businesses, governments, and society, but they are also testament to the speed with which digital (and mobile) connectivity is changing the lives of people in the region.
More than 1.4 billion Asian consumers now use social media on a monthly basis, with 95% of them accessing platforms via mobile devices – the highest ratio in the world.
Digital in 2017: Southeast Asia
Digital in 2017: Eastern Asia
Digital in 2017: Southern Asia
Digital in 2017: Australia, New Zealand & The Pacific
Brands at the forefront of tech and media shine in the 2016 Asia’s Top 1000 Brands ranking. Number 1 position was taken by Samsung, with Apple and Sony in 2 and 3 respectively.
Samsung retained its top spot in terms of customer perception, despite a tough year which saw mobile phone sales squeezed by Android competitors. They released the Galaxy S6 Edge Plus and Note 5 in August 2015, beating new iPhones to the market by about a month. These models debuted after slow sales of the premium Galaxy S6 prompted price cuts and customer refunds. Samsung then wasted little time in launching the Galaxy S7 Edge in January 2016, largely to favourable reviews for its expandable storage, a dual-pixel camera, battery and always-on display.
2015 was another exciting year for digital and programmatic in Asia, South East Asia especially.
There is a definite sense that individual markets are outgrowing Singapore as a regional hub – evidenced by rapidly increasing spends at individual market level, and a resurgence in agencies, both local and global, doing outstanding digital work in local markets.
In celebration of the year past, here are the top 5 Digital in Asia articles for 2015.
A report from market research company Epinion and OMD looking at Generation Z in Vietnam. Numbering 14 million, and with an average monthly disposable income of 112 USD – significant in this emerging market – these consumers are incredibly valuable for brands.
2015 promised to be an exciting year for Digital Marketing and Media in Asia. These were the ten trends that, in DIA’s view, would change online advertising over the last year. How many did we get right?! Don’t worry, we’ll be right back very soon with another 10 trends for 2016.
Over the last five years Vietnam has seen its beer sales climb at more the double the rate of its GDP, making it South-East Asia’s largest consumer of beer.
In fact, in 2012 a staggering 3 billion litres of beer were consumed in Vietnam meaning there should be huge opportunities for local and international bands to market and sell here.
However, it’s not as straightforward as it should be.
Firstly the infrastructure of Vietnam’s cities, towns and villages which can be described as politely referred to as ‘disorganised’ makes it very difficult for brands to establish where or why there beer is selling well.
This is made even more complicated as many vendors will buy stock from one shop then move around so even consumers will not know where they bought the product from.
This can prove a huge hindrance for brands who want to monitor sales, establish demand for a new product or establish consumer sentiment.
Another challenge is the competition from liquor and wine brands who are looking to get a slice of Vietnam’s youthful and rapidly increasing middle class.
A recent report showed Ho Chi Minh City in the south of Vietnam has one of the fastest growing multi-millionaire populations in the world, and the thirst to match it.
Beverage companies with high-end products such as Diageo (whose brands include Schmirnoff vodka, Tanqueray gin and part own Moet-Hennessy) have been working hard over the last few years to establish a foothold in Vietnam.
While it looks unlikely spirits will ever usurp beer, their appeal is growing (though they are not really present at the street-side eating venues many Vietnamese like to eat and drink at).
Another problem beer brands in Vietnam face is their struggles to connect with an increasingly digitalised audience.
A spokesperson from market research and insights company, Epinion said: “In order for brands to run effective social media campaigns they need to have a good understanding of who their audience actually is. Without this information you run the risk of analysing the effectiveness of digital campaigns based on falsified and biased data which is a huge waste of time and money.
“In a project we worked with Vietnam’s leading brewery Sabeco we helped them establish who of their more than 100,000 Facebook fans were ‘true’ and who just liked the page for the sake of it, then established the effectiveness of their digital campaigns.
“As a result of our study, Sabeco gained valuable insight on how they could gain greater engagement with their ‘true fans’ and leverage further impact from future digital campaigns, reducing time and money spent on ineffective digital marketing campaigns.
“Sabeco, along with other beer brands, has to embrace digital media as this is where their consumer is, but they must also know how to connect with them online.”
Chinese consumers say concerns about personal privacy, the environment and their security will stop them from purchasing new products, according to a new study from Edelman.
Raised in a high growth, fast changing society, a vast majority (94%) of Chinese consumers now view innovation itself as an essential component of society’s progress. And more than 4 in 5 (85%) believe it’s the responsibility of business to drive this innovation.
However, there is discomfort at the role of business in innovation. The majority of respondents believe innovation comes at a personal and societal cost with privacy (58%) and environmental impact (52%) the major concerns.
“It seems innovation in and of itself is not enough to be liked, trusted or bought,” said Carol Potter, executive vice chairman, Edelman Asia Pacific, Middle East & Africa. “We find consumers simultaneously positive about the benefits of innovation at the same time as anxious, uncomfortable and skeptical about the companies that bring it.”
The full report is worth reading to find out more about Chinese consumers conflicted attitudes to business.
Innovation and the Earned Brand in China [Edelman]
We’ve heard plenty about Millenials (or Generation Y), those born between 1976 and 1994. But as this generation continues to age, marketers are starting to shift their attention to the next wave – Generation Z, those born in 1995 or later.
A new report from market research company Epinion and OMD looks at GenZ (Generation Z) in Vietnam. Numbering 14 million, and with an average monthly disposable income of 112 USD – significant in this emerging market – GenZ is incredibly valuable for Vietnamese brands.
However, for marketers to connect effectively with GenZ they must recognise them as a separate entity to their Millennial (or Generation Y) predecessors.
GenZ really just enjoy being online, hanging out and cocooning at home. Their most enjoyed activity is reading news on Facebook, and most comfortable method of contact with friends through chat apps.
They are also fairly marketing savvy. Only 27% said they would trust a celebrity endorsement or comment, and just 13% trust online reviews.
Bui Tieu Vy, Epinion’s Senior Marketing Executive said: “Our results found that because the under 21s have only ever known a world with internet, the line between digital and physical is very blurred to them and most feel their existence is validated by their social media presence. They would be nothing without their phone, and a large proportion have more than one.
“On top of this, they have learned from their predecessors’ mistakes and are very skeptical, making them much more unlikely to fall for online scams. For brands this means GenZ is able to read between the lines of marketing ploys and will require much more convincing to connect with a brand than to simply be told it is good.”
When it came to traditional advertising, again, this is a hard bunch to impress with only 21% trusting radio adverts, 17% magazine and 15% for both TV and newspaper ads.
A surprising 72% said it was advice from their parents or experts they trusted, reinforcing the importance of the family structure in a country still emerging into the modern era.
Bui Tieu Vy added: “For brands to connect with GenZ they must utilise a strong content strategy that displays social consciousness and demonstrates a higher purpose. ”
Too often people see innovation as a flash of lightning, striking at random. And too many businesses are afraid to try new things, creating a huge barrier to success.
Clearly inspiration is core to innovation, and new things are scary. But, as strange as it might sound, you can actually plan to be innovative – and protect your marketing investment – with a very simple strategy.
It’s called the 70/20/10 Rule, and it will help you map out all the things you could do with your marketing, into a structured approach that will help drive your business forward.
So how does it work? First, take your Digital marketing budget and divide it into three buckets: one with 70% of the money and two others with 20% and 10%, respectively.
Your largest investment should be in established marketing programs. Focus on refining activity you have run for several years with a record of success. Right now this is likely to include Google Search, Desktop Display, and Facebook activity – although it depends where you are in your Digital marketing journey. It’s crucial to maintain a strong base to protect your success.
The next 20% of your budget should go on emerging areas that are starting to gain traction. This is about generating safe learning opportunities. Mobile and Programmatic are hot right now for most marketers, but it should also be about trying new suppliers for activity you are already doing well at. Not every test will work out, but the ones that do will set up your future plans and keep you ahead of the competition.
You can think of this final 10% as your marketing insurance. Set the stage for the future by investing in areas you have never tested before. Start small and scale fast. Remember these 10% tests will one day be your 70%. And without investing here you will very quickly fall behind your competition.
Even gigantic global brands such as Coca Cola follow this approach. Wendy Clark, SVP, Marketing for Coca-Cola, gave the below presentation at a McKinsey CMO event recently. She explained how, to be successful today, companies need to employ a test and learn approach. At Coke, 70% of spend funds current proven programs, 20% goes to new and promising trends, and 10% to test completely new ideas.
What’s important in all this is that innovation can have a process. With the 70/20/10 approach it’s easy to protect your success NOW, while finding the NEW and NEXT things you need to stay ahead.
According to a recent Razorfish digital marketing report, Asian Marketers must be more innovative and forward-thinking than their western counterparts, to meet the technology-driven expectations of consumers in our region. Asian consumers are not only reporting higher ownership and usage of technology, they also hold higher expectations of brands and technology overall.
We talk to Joanna Kalenska, Managing Director at Razorfish Hong Kong, about Asian consumers, brands’ challenges and opportunities.
DIA: Hi Joanna, how are you?
JK: Doing fantastic, thanks.
DIA: So we’ll leap right in there. Marketers are underestimating the digital divide between Millennials and Gen Xers. How do you think this applies in Asia? Can we even say that Gen X exists in Asia?
JK: What’s fascinating about this region is the fact that when it comes to technology the differences between the generations are minimal. And this came as a clear finding during our global research report Digital Dopamine. It seems that enthusiasm towards technology is age independent in markets like the US or UK, where the differences are more prominent. But not in China for example, where despite a relatively low internet penetration people are more savvy and demanding when it comes to their technology expectations. This lack of legacy has allowed Asian markets to leapfrog directly to quite advance digital behaviors.
Also, culturally, in China, peer-to-peer purchases are part of everyday life, and so social commerce has become a widely accepted, very normal practice. And it is this that has also led to less of a gap between Gen X & Y in China, in so far as digital usage is concerned. Generation X in the West, has had to learn to trust new platforms from the start, compared to Generation Y, who grew up with this practice.
DIA: Brands need to focus more on being useful than on being interesting. Can you talk about how this applies to Asian markets? In markets where a lot of basic infrastructure is missing, do you think brands have more of a role to play?
JK: Absolutely, and precisely for that reason. To win, brands as a service must deliver meaningful utility / value everyday to stand out from the crowd. Digital Dopamine showed us Asian consumers adopt and embrace technology quickly. Often, quicker than brands are able to implement the correct infrastructure to enable experiences at the expected level. Consumers won’t wait for brands to catch up. This means that at the point where longer-term strategies are already defined, brands need to think in a fresh and innovative way. Tech-savvy consumers are not as much interested in a brand’s reputation as before, their loyalty is determined more by the total satisfaction of the brand’s omni-channel experience. Especially in Asia where there is a lot of noise and a lot of choice.
DIA: Omni-channel customers still encounter a number of friction points as they dip between online and offline platforms in search of cross-channel convenience. Do you see any interesting trends or consumer behaviours emerging specific to Asia to solve this issue?
JK: This remains a big challenge for most brands, and therefore consumers. Considering how long this concept has been on the table it’s quite surprising how slow brands are at adapting. The biggest obstacle for real omni-channel is a single view of the customer, which has been restricted because of legacy systems. Smaller, more agile brands have more chance to succeed but they often lack resources and funds to make a real and noticeable difference. To enable a smooth transition and be able to deliver on an omni-channel promise, businesses need the right data and technology infrastructure. This does not, however, stop brands from moving towards platform integration in smart and simple ways. Each business can deliver a short, medium and long-term solution to surprise and delight their customers, examples include extending catalogues online, order online & collect instore initiatives, pick in store & deliver to home or office, and more.
DIA: While we sometimes focus on the rational benefits of technology, digital interactions affect us on a biological and emotional level. Do you see marketers moving brand budget to digital yet at scale? We often think Asia is especially tech obsessed. Is this a more relevant trend here than anywhere else globally?
JK: Nowhere in the world are people as obsessed with their phones as here in Asia. Mobile first – brands have got to be mobile and social, because social proof makes the decision for the buyer.
Secondly, buying online here is very emotional and seen as gifting yourself, providing a digital rush of sorts.
DIA: What’s the future for agencies in a fast, nimble, social media world?
JK: A never-ending funnel of smart and simple ideas. We rely on clever people – that’s our IP. Being curious, quick, yet diligent and considerate has been keeping Razorfish at the top of the consideration list for our clients.
DIA: Do you think Asia has a talent problem in digital marketing and media?
JK: I think the talent problem in digital marketing is not only an Asia issue. Experienced marketers have not caught up with the ever-changing technology, and younger generation often believe that being a native user makes them know what’s required. There are very few professionals who can think and talk at the brand and business level, being at the same time connected to the target audience and the way they engage and embrace technology.
We also live in the time where everything is instant and there seem to be less time for understanding market, product or target audience context. I don’t think WHY is considered before the HOW is agreed. But this takes confidence and experience. In a world where people change jobs every 18 months, there is very little know-how building and seeing the results of your decisions or recommendations – both on the agency and the brand side.
DIA: Is advertising all about the algorithm now? Do you see data and automation emerging as serious trends in your markets?
JK: Yes and No. It can never just be about the algorithm. Real time marketing does require a deeper understanding of the audience and uses programmatic targeting and retargeting to reach them in context, when and where our message is useful. But it also requires smart human truth creative in order to be really effective.
The big problem we have in Asia is a real lack of data-led insights, because firstly, companies have never needed to collect data, they had it very easy until now, and secondly, if they have data, they are very reluctant to share it, because it might give away a competitive advantage. This will change in time once a few players have realized how great data-led insights and briefs can drive transformational execution.
DIA: We see a lot of hype around mobile, but is it really a channel to be taken seriously yet?
JK: Is this a trick question?!
DIA: Not a trick question! We are interested in both the buzz and the reality on the ground. How much attention are your clients putting towards mobile?
JK: Mobile as a content provider, mobile as a device, most of us can’t imagine life without or another channel to push advertising onto. We are asking about rational benefits but aren’t we past that, mobile is affecting us on a biological and emotional level. You can read about these effects in our report, Digital Dopamine. Digital Dopamine points out 87% of Chinese consumers report often feeling dependent on technology, that’s a pretty extreme demonstration of its importance.
Mobile-Mad is Asia, even more than the Middle East. Asian consumers are way ahead of brands in terms of how and what they use their mobiles for. Brands think that a mobile enabled site is enough, well it’s not nearly enough. Content has to be rethought to fit the smartphone screen in its entirety, and still too many clients are thinking about big screen content, which ends up looking ridiculous on the small screen. What’s worse, it doesn’t deliver the value consumers are looking for.
DIA: Oreo famously made a splash during the Super Bowl with a clever tweet during the blackout. Does something like that move the needle, or is it just something we talk about for a tiny cycle and then forget?
JK: I don’t think it’s always about moving a needle. Sometimes it’s about quick, fresh and clever thinking. Oreo did exactly that, clever thought using a popular platform. There was nothing groundbreaking about it, but it was spot on, real time marketing. So few brands are ready for it.
DIA: If you could choose between working in the sleek tech-driven world of modern advertising, or the days of Don Draper and Mad Men, what would you do?
JK: Without a doubt in the sleek tech driven word. I think the task is much more interesting and challenging on many levels. We are being challenged every day, by new technologies, by changes to legislations, new platforms, hardware software, we have to be engaged and interested or we will fall behind very quickly. 15 years ago it was easy to be an expert in a particular field. It took ages before anything changed so you could gain deep experience. We now need to be experts in a new area every day, that’s not easy and it takes a lot of intellectual openness and fresh thinking. Having said that, the creativity and courage of Mad Men mixed with the curiosity and connection of digital would be perfect.
DIA: Thank you for a hugely interesting discussion. Looking forward to chatting again soon.