SINGAPORE: Asian brands are increasingly turning to international agency networks for their advertising needs rather than working with local shops, a new study has said.

This signals the acceleration of a trend that media monitoring firm Pearlfinders first noticed a few years ago. Its Global Index 2015 report is based on interviews with more than 10,000 marketing and sponsorship decision-makers across Europe, the US and Asia during the course of the past year.

"Initially, only a few global networks were able to capitalise on this demand," Mike Thorne, the firm's product director, told Campaign Asia-Pacific, "but more recently many of the big name players have established credible operations across Greater China, Singapore and Malaysia."

The shift is being driven in part by the majors' recruitment activity, according to the report, as they are looking to employ multilingual executives to run their brand-side marketing teams.

"A sizable opportunity exists for European and American agencies able to demonstrate best-in-class capabilities," it said.

The report also identified the FMCG sector as the category attracting the greatest marketing investment in Asia, although at 12% this lagged behind the global average of 16.9%.

"Even 12 months ago, FMCG brands were not seeing the budgets their western counterparts enjoyed but this is growing rapidly both in terms of advertising and brand development," said Thorne.

Other leading sectors for marketing investment included apparel (11.0%), travel, transport and hospitality (10.1%), consumer electronics (9.9%) and retail (7.4%).

And while many Asian marketers remain wedded to traditional television advertising, the report said that, increasingly, "social is the most effective channel to reach Chinese 'netizens'".

The extraordinary speed of change in that country's advertising landscape means creative shops need to review their clients, it added. "Once, tourism-driven industries like airlines and hotels, as well as luxury apparel, were the most lucrative new business prospects."

But now, "agencies should focus on the need for ATL campaigns at everything from carbonated water brands to kitchen appliances".

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