SINAGPORE: Most consumers in Asia-Pacific have no interest in interacting with brands online or in creating content for them, suggesting that marketers need to rethink their approach to participation.

The J Walter Thompson agency and researcher TNS surveyed 5,600 people across seven countries – Australia, China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and New Zealand – for the report Participation – beyond the hype.

This found that while more than half (54%) of respondents were happy to consume brand content, only around one third (30%) interacted in some way – most often by simply liking or sharing – and just 8% had any inclination to get involved in any sort of active participation with a brand.

In fact, one third (37%) resented even being asked to participate as they felt they were doing the work for the brand and that the brand was benefiting more than they were.

The report noted that participation "invitations" from brands were often "transparently self-serving" and audiences could see straight through these.

Consumers were also keen to avoid the consequences of engagement, with 54% saying they hated the idea that this would simply lead to them receiving more ads.

The report suggested that marketers have been guilty of regarding participation as an end in itself. "Participation is not why people connect; it's a response when people make a connection," it stated.

That connection is most likely to happen when people are looking to buy something or require customer service – so brands need to consider how they can best interact on the consumers' terms.

"Stop assuming interest in participation but earn the interest with creatively driven content," Angela Morris, executive planning director at JWT Australia, told an audience at Spikes Asia.

"Creativity has proven to get engagements and overcome inertia," she added.

Another danger is that even when participation campaigns are successful they tend to involve people who already like the brand; Morris recommended using them instead to talk to people who aren't interested in the brand, something Kellogg's Australia had done when it repositioned its Nutri-grain brand to target "indifferent" teens.

Data sourced from J Walter Thompson, Campaign Asia-Pacific; additional content by Warc staff