In speaking with clients and journalists across Asia Pacific, I’ve found that change is the biggest trend facing the region – change in how we communicate, take in information, and make decisions. Marketers are constantly looking for the most effective ways to engage their audiences and searching for tools to measure the success of emerging technologies.
Given Asia’s complexity and diversity, this change is manifesting itself in different ways and at different speeds in each country. So I thought I’d offer a quick glimpse into how different countries across APAC are meeting the challenges of a changing marketing landscape.
Australia and Singapore
In more mature markets such as Australia and Singapore, marketers are focused on how to create seamless, integrated campaigns. They see the value of linking activities across earned, owned, paid and social channels and are focused on smoothing out the customer journey. However, many marketers seem to be paying more attention to channels than audiences. Amidst emerging digital tools and platforms, it seems the "where" instead of the "what" is distracting many. Marketers need to keep customers at the forefront, first determining who they want to speak with, what will resonate and the best way to reach them. This sets the foundation for strategic, integrated campaigns that effectively engage consumers at numerous touch points and ultimately, lead to conversions.
Malaysia has always had a high usage of social channels amongst the younger generations in the major metropolitan cities. Local and multinational brands are now tapping into the power of content marketing as a way to more effectively engage and influence consumers and business buyers alike. It’s important, however, for Malaysian brands to understand that content marketing, is not a revolution, but an evolution of traditional marketing and public relations skills. Storytelling has always been at the core of engaging campaigns but now, data-driven insight is the pen. They must use this insight to craft interesting, relevant stories and measure the effectiveness of their content strategy.
India’s media landscape presents an interesting dichotomy for marketers. There, in contrast to other parts of the world, the number of print publications is still growing, putting traditional PR in strong standing against digital and social channels when it comes to influence. However, while only around 20 percent of the population has internet access, India still ranks third globally in the number of internet users, making digital a necessity for brands looking to target Millennials and Gen Ys. As a result of this split, many brands are still operating in silos – focusing either on traditional media or emerging digital channels. Sometimes brands are looking at both, but rarely under the same strategic umbrella. As a developing country, India has a unique opportunity to leapfrog to widespread digital integration but only if brands are willing to evolve the way they speak with customers across platforms.
Brands in China face similar challenges. With nearly as many smartphones as there are people in China, the rate of change is faster than anywhere else, particularly among younger generations. Chinese millennials are mobile-gurus, and brands who aren’t on platforms such as Weibo or WeChat will quickly get left behind. Traditional media is still important in reaching older audiences but as the population ages, brands will need to ensure they understand how to leverage these digital channels effectively in order to survive.
Regardless of what campaign, channel or country you’re focused on, it all comes back to one thing – relevance. Brands must ensure that the content, products and services they’re offering are relevant and interesting to consumers – regardless of the channel on which they’re offered. Only then can marketers ensure they will not merely weather the constant change, but use it to their advantage.