SHANGHAI: Danone, the international dairy giant, is gaining useful consumer insights in China and the wider Asia region from using social media listening to inform its market localisation efforts.

Benjamin Duvall of social media intelligence company Linkfluence explained how their client, Danone, is using social listening to glean consumer insights in the highly competitive China market where international dairy products are in high demand.

"This is about bringing information to gain intelligence, so listening is research. You get all those metrics about how you are marketing, but what are people actually saying about the brand?" said Duvall.

Mapping key customer communities is crucial for conducting large-scale research across markets in the Asia-Pacific region, argued Duvall, and complements traditional marketing research.

Brands must also understand that in Asia's social media landscape, social listening is even more important, just as extending a global brand approach in the region is largely futile.

"In China, we have Weibo, we have QQ, and in Southeast Asia, Facebook is very important. For a brand, how do we make sense? We can't use the same template. This is about listening to people," said Duvall.

Duvall hypothesized that social listening would be useful for determining consumer perceptions of baby food allergy symptoms, in the language specific to different markets. This type of market research is particularly important to understand how it can market its probiotic products.

In China, discussion around allergy symptoms is very different to Western European markets – an insight which can help inform marketing tactics.

"For the brand looking to engage consumers, they have to use the (market's) consumer language," said Duvall.

It was a lesson in the importance of localisation for Asian markets. "We have to be specific to these markets and we have to be consistent. This is extremely different to do across Asia Pacific and especially across the world. It takes a lot of sophistication," he concluded.

Data sourced from Warc