ASEAN millennials keen to balance change with history

An Edelman report focusing on three Southeast Asian nations found the younger generation is keen to keep local culture while becoming more globalised

Young people in Vietnam, Singapore and Malaysia are leaning towards brands and consumer habits that offer both modernity and maintain a firm grip on their cultural heritage, according to a consumer insights reports published by Edelman.

The agency released its inaugural Connections Report on Southeast Asian consumer trends, targeting the three aforementioned countries.

The report’s main cultural finding across millennials in all three markets was one of consumers being "globally mobile but locally rooted".

While brands have been succeeding with consumers by offering new, mobile products and services, the Edelman report says many are concerned that too rapid progress will lead to their culture and traditions being forgotten.

Maxine Gurevich (pictured), Edelman senior manager of global insights and consumer practice development, is project leader for the report.

She said: "We went to work compiling local market nuances, the tensions arising in each area, what people are buying and why, what’s being remixed, reused and repurposed and most importantly, what marketers need to know before stepping foot into these countries."

In Vietnam, the report finds, a population that is 70 percent made up of people under 30 has led to rapid change and advancement, but in tandem with protecting its heritage.

Yet in Singapore, marketers must contend with millennials who increasingly feel overwhelmed by the rate of progress and want greater emphasis on preserving the country’s culture. This is reflected in the government’s recent issuing of several preservation orders.

Finally in Malaysia, the report says there is both harmony and tension in the country’s wide ethnic diversity, and marketers need to factor in a range of values, languages and cultures among their target audiences.

Gurevich added: "We found a new nationalism has emerged that isn’t a strongly imposed, top-down approach, but one that is all-encompassing, collaborative and rooted in tradition by the people."

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