Asia is not the World’s Biggest Market, but Many Markets of the World

10 Sep 2018

  • Strategy
  • Thought leadership
  • Customer experience

As many businesses begin to size up the 4.46 billion consumers with $6.6 trillion dollars of consumption power in Asia, tap into the new “She-Economy” sweeping the east, and put a team on the ground to launch their brand, planning a marketing communications strategy has never looked so different.

Avoid a one-size fits all approach to Asia

Each market in Asia consumes marketing messaging differently, not only in differing languages, but technology consumption habits, media viewing habits, and connects with brands in very different ways. Each of the cities in China alone have different socio-demographic profiles, much like the varying differences in the 50 American states. Targeting the 1.4 billion people in China becomes an even harder dart to throw.

China will quite arguably become our first entirely cashless economy, driven by QR codes with connections to online mobile app payment platforms. Conglomerates of p2p lending linked to mobile devices makes trading incredibly easy for even the smallest entrepreneur. I’ve even seen beggars on the street use QR codes to enable a charitable donation directly to their WeChat account.

What works in mainland China, won’t work in neighboring Hong Kong SAR – with after effects of 100 years of British colonial rule influencing infrastructure, education, travel, and brand access. How Japanese consumers respond won’t be the same as those in South Korea. Even the use of LINE, the social media and messaging payment app, in Japan is different from the use of LINE in Thailand.

What is perfectly acceptable to know and communicate with consumers is perceived very differently in different markets. Poorly executed remarketing campaigns can cause a negative brand impact and a mass of database churn. Customer journeys need to account for localized consumer behavior and brand interactions to make the brand relevant to each market. Don’t assume one content and messaging design will suit all of Asia.

Many brands are making big inroads in the biggest markets (China, Japan, India) through affiliate and trading platforms rather than building brick and mortar retailers and ecommerce sites. Leveraging the consumer power, consumption habits, and brand choice available to consumers who can click and deliver off their mobile device on their daily commute.

Is email marketing dead in Asia?

There’s a lot of noise, so the targeted content that consumers actually want to receive is imperative. Engagement rates are generally lower than in Western markets. It is not only because of relaxed data collection laws, but also opportunistic entrepreneurial e-tailers still abide by a batch and blast model that fills up subscribers’ inboxes.

Subscribers tend to ignore or delete messages rather than unsubscribe based on the volume of inbox traffic they receive. The market is slowly waking up to the notion of building loyalty and consumer retention strategies. The opportunity here for new brands is to launch with more sophisticated campaigns than the local competitors.

Get social

WeChat is a social and economic connectivity app so entrenched in the Chinese economy that consumers use it to update family members, make voice calls, leave voice messages, play games, give gift coupons, pay for everything from a cup of hot herbal tea from a street vendor. Perhaps the most important thing to know is the reliance on WeChat to exchange your WeChat ID – read “business card” – to send documents, communicate with your business network, and strike a deal.

Get mobile

Plan for marketing consumption on mobile devices. Asia was the birthplace of the selfie stick to hold a phone at arms length to take the perfect photo. Mobile gamification is huge. Search videos of people walking into things while holding phones. It’s an epidemic, and never more so in Asia where people are glued to their handheld devices like smartphone zombies. I’ve seen couples at dinner, sitting in silence, playing games on their devices sitting opposite their spouse. Good, quality gamification time.

Personalised customer journeys

Personalised customer journeys are possible and more important than ever. With so many brands – copycats included – vying for the Asian consumer, Western brands need to consider their approach.

A Western retailer in China was considering their customer journeys and buying behavior just like a Western consumer. For example, they predicted one customer would purchase one pair of denim jeans once per year and they were trying to increase their order amount by offering other merchandise like t-shirts.

This new consumer is happy to buy a flare fit, a boot cut, a bedazzled, an embroidered, a dark pair, a light pair. There is a new-money, she-economy generation who aren’t working to support a family out of farming poverty. This is a generation focused on establishing their identity through wearing Western brands with logos splashed across the front to prove their abundance of wealth and success.

The opportunity in Asia requires informed marketing communications strategy planning, precise data collection, and insight-powered consumer segmentation to target your brand to these many large consumer markets.

By Caitlin Riordan - VP, APAC Services at Cheetah Digital

This post originally appeared on the Cheetah Digital blog in a slightly different form.

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