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Research: How Brands Engage Consumers in the APAC Region

In an increasingly competitive marketplace, brands must focus on creating more impactful relationships with their consumers if they hope to succeed. While this is a global phenomenon, understanding regional differences in consumer preferences can be enormously helpful for brands hoping to engage their audiences more effectively.

For marketers looking to expand globally, APAC represents a region of particular interest and opportunity. In fact, according to a new report published by IDC Retail Insights, the Asia-Pacific retail sector grew at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 13.63 percent from 2010 to 2016, “mainly attributed to cross-border e-commerce, demographic changes and rising income in the region.” As brands rush to tap into this growth, they must prepare their organizations for unique regulatory and behavioural considerations. Certainly, marketing in Asian countries requires a nuanced approach.

In order to get a better sense of the types of efforts that are already working, Olapic, in collaboration with WBR, recently surveyed marketing leaders operating in the APAC region. The report, entitled “Asia’s Evolving E-Commerce Market,” uncovered several key insights and opportunities, such as:

Social Engagement Critical to Success

Perhaps unsurprisingly, we confirmed that brands are currently deploying campaigns across a number of channels, including both digital and in-store activations. According to survey respondents, social media advertising ranked as the top channel for marketing communication with 87% adoption, followed by in-store (81%) and email (64%) activations. The ascension of social media demonstrated the increasing importance of more authentic interactions with customers throughout the APAC region, which is consistent with demand in other parts of the world.

Competitive Landscape Grows Increasingly Complex

When asked the biggest challenge facing their brands, respondents cited the ability to stand out from competition (25%), closely followed by understanding the needs and wants of important audience segments (22%), and reaching new customers (19%). This finding speaks to a need for brands to develop a content-first, rather than a channel-first, approach to connect with consumers in authentic ways. Many brands we work with are turning to user-generated, or “earned” imagery as a way to aggregate high-quality, personalised, and authentic content at scale. As social networks have proliferated, consumers have begun generating enormous amounts of visual content, often tagging their favourite brands. In fact, a staggering 98% of brand leaders we surveyed report an uptick in user-generated content being tagged to their brands over the last year.

Customer Photos Prove Largely Effective

Respondents to the survey reported a significant increase in branded content being generated by customer audiences. But is that content a helpful marketing tool? The short answer: yes. When asked to rank content types by efficacy in social advertising, respondents ranked “photos of products or services provided” at the top with 88%, followed by “consumers’ photos associated with the brand (user-generated)” (68%). Notably, consumers’ content outranked “photos of models with the brand” (50%)  and “videos” (42%) respectively.

While marketing in APAC will continue to grow in complexity, it is clear that brands have an opportunity to tap into customers’ content, to connect the digital and in-store experience, and drive greater engagement and revenue. To glean more in-depth insights on how brands are finding success in the APAC region, download the full report.

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