Thais look to local channels

6 November 2014

BANGKOK: Marketers wanting to keep track of what online consumers in Thailand are thinking need to look beyond the big western social media platforms to the local platforms and forums that are a feature of the country.

"The biggest trend for us right now is understanding the rise in secondary content channels," Mark Cochrane, CEO of Saatchi & Saatchi Thailand, told Campaign Asia-Pacific. "You can't just think of Facebook and YouTube as the places to be… You need to listen through a mix of international and local tools."

The problem for marketers is that international tools don't really work in Thailand, partly because of technical issues like language and tone, but also because forums such as Pantip.com are hugely influential.

According to Campaign Asia-Pacific these are "the incubators of authentic Thai conversations for topics ranging from local shopping to Silicon Valley".

"These content channels and platforms that are dominating are really unique to Thailand and it's where Thai people are living," Cochrane stated.

The VRZO YouTube channel was highlighted as a secondary content channel that was attracting a lot of attention, thanks to its irreverent approach and willingness to take on taboo topics, which has helped it gain 2m subscribers.

Unusually, VRZO programming is typically one hour long, with viewers watching it in the same way they watch television and staying engaged for long periods, a far cry from six seconds on Vine.

"Content creators such as the VRZO guys are now mass entertainment," said Cochrane, "so as marketers we need to understand how to be part of conversations around these types of secondary content worlds as well."

To do that successfully marketers have to appreciate certain Thai traits, from a sense of humour that embraces slapstick and puns, to Buddhist values of happiness and optimism. "We often talk about 'social light' content that is not complicated in its tone, messaging or user experience," Cochrane noted.

"There is no cookie-cutter approach that wins," he added, "but in Thailand you do need to ensure your brand is 'alive to thrive' in conversation."

Data sourced from Campaign Asia-Pacific; additional content by Warc staff