The kind of brands recommended in Asia-Pacific, and what's shared: Waggener Edstrom

The likelihood that your brand will be recommended to friends and family varies by country and by the type of brand. Likewise, the type of branded content that is likely to be shared is also influenced by culture and by industry sectors finds Waggener Edstrom in their annual study, Content Matters.

ASIA-PACIFIC - More than half (55 percent) of Australians are likely to actively promote a restaurant they like, but only 38 percent of Chinese and 21 percent of South Koreans would do so, according to Waggener Edstrom in the 2015 edition of Content Matters: The impact of brand storytelling online.

South Koreans, incidentally, are the least likely to actively recommend any industry. As it stands, they are most likely to suggest a restaurant, but on average only around one in 10 would suggest anything else to a friend or family member—including mobile devices, personal care products and finance or banking services.

The 2015 study surveyed over 4,000 consumers in nine markets across Asia-Pacific; Australia, mainland China, India, Indonesia, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore and South Korea. It also covered nine industries; beauty, electronics, finance and banking, food and beverage, healthcare, mobile devices and tablets, personal care, restaurants and travel and tourism.

On the other end of the spectrum are the Filipinos, more than 50 percent of whom are likely to make a recommendation for any of the sectors. In this market, as in many others, places to eat leads in likelihood of recommendation at 59 percent but the lowest for the market is 42 percent, for beauty products.


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Although on average, consumers in Asia-Pacific are most likely to recommend restaurants and dining experiences (38 percent) and travel and tourism (36 percent) this does differ in some markets. Indians are more likely to recommend a mobile device or tablet (49 percent) and Indonesians and Malaysians are both more likely to tell friends and family about travel and tourism.

Content types shared by promoters

The study also found correlations between the type of content shared most by the promoters of each sector. These results, exclusive to PRWeek Asia-Pacific, show a high degree of consistency across the sectors with the type of content each culture prefers to share. However, there are some interesting variances.

In China, while most consumers are likely to share personal status updates (19 percent) and news items (18 percent), those who also indicated that they are likely to actively recommend beauty products prefer to share news content (37 percent) above all. The same goes for promoters of finance and banking services.

For Indians, inspirational content dominates social sharers (20 percent). But promoters of restaurants are just as likely to share funny or entertaining content, and promoters of healthcare products prefer humorous content over inspirational. Interestingly, 43 percent of food and beverage promoters are likely to share inspirational content, the highest among the sectors in the market.

Promoters across all sectors in Indonesia are more likely to share news items than funny and entertaining content, bucking the national average in which humour has an edge over news. And in Malaysia (where funny and entertaining content is the preference), travel and tourism firms are likely to have more luck with inspirational content, but both types of content work equally well for food and beverage products.

Filipino promoters are as keen to educate as they are to inspire. When it comes to personal care products, educational content will likely have more play with the sector’s promoters. This is true too for consumer electronics.

Other findings

Devices matter when it comes to consumer decision making

According to report author, Henry Wood, Head of Studio D, Waggener Edstrom Asia-Pacific, while a consumer in Asia-Pacific may be prepared to choose a restaurant based on word-of-mouth, when it comes to choosing financial and banking services, the brand’s corporate website is very important. "And, consumers prefer to use a desktop or laptop for these weighty decisions. We actually found a trend—smaller quicker decisions can be made with research on a smartphone, but for more substantial ones people still turn to the desktop," said Wood.

It’s all about the ecosystem

Consumers want cross-channel experiences. According to the study, effective brand storytelling requires an ecosystem of media with both online and offline touchpoints. But, the preferred platform changes across industry sectors and countries. In South Korea, regardless of industry, blogs dominate purchasing decisions, particularly for travel and tourism (20 percent), dining (19 percent) and beauty products (16 percent). But in the Philippines, social media carries the greatest purchase influence.

Different platforms for different folks

Although Facebook and WhatsApp currently dominate the region, the third most preferred social network is different in almost every market. Singapore consumers are hot for Instagram, Indonesians love to tweet, and China is bonding via WeChat.

Furthermore, instant messaging services are increasingly being used for content sharing, discounts and news are driving support for brands through social media, and experience-based industries receive the greatest level of advocacy.

Across all markets, mobile instant messaging applications such as WhatsApp, WeChat and KakaoTalk were among the most commonly used social-media networks for content sharing, with the demand for real-time updates and responses shifting communication methods away from traditional websites to more direct and instant communication.

Brand approach

In Australia, only 53 percent are somewhat or very likely to follow a brand on social media, whereas in China, India, Indonesia and the Philippines this figure is closer to or over 90 percent. And while access to promotions and discounts is the key reason consumers follow a brand in Hong Kong (46 percent) and Indonesia (38 percent), in China, it’s simple love for the brand. In India, it’s because consumers find the content inspirational. "What this means for campaign strategy is that Southeast Asia should be promotion-led, while marketers will need to focus on brand in China and charm in India," recommended the study.

"Marketing is not something that changes with social media," said Matthew Lackie, SVP of Waggener Edstrom Asia-Pacific in an interview. "The fundamentals remain the same. Some brands go too far and do content so unrelated to the sales of their product they're not driving sales. Some people can be too far the other side, blasting out promotions all the time. The key is to try and find that balance."

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