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Local focus is key in Asia

News, 08 March 2016

SINGAPORE: Marketers must consider the individual cultural characteristics of Asia's emerging markets in order to be successful as China's slowdown casts a shadow across the region, a new Warc series has shown.

Asian advertising in 2016, a collection of reports edited by consumer strategy and foresights expert Kunal Sinha, provides a market-by-market breakdown of key advertising trends in South East Asia in 2016, and offers practical tips in navigating the future landscape.

The primers cover Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, Myanmar, the Philippines and India, each written by an on-the-ground advertising expert.

As Asia's growing middle class enjoys more spending power and leads the world in e-commerce and social media usage, multinationals are looking toward South East Asia's emerging economies as a natural extension of high-end market strategies in Singapore, Hong Kong and Japan.

However, exporting a one-size-fits-all approach from wealthy Asian markets to South East Asia will not work. Asia comprises different levels of market development, as well as having vastly varied cultures, languages, currencies, retail and media infrastructure. Each is also set to be influenced in varying degrees by China's slowdown, which looms across consumer sentiment in much of Asia and is forcing brands to rethink their approach.

As such, locally-crafted brand strategies are crucial to success in 2016, particularly if multinationals are to compete with culturally savvy local competitors. Warc's Asia Strategy Report revealed that localisation has been key to successful campaigns in Asia, where multinationals are often forced into challenger positions against strong local brands.

Brands and entrepreneurs in these markets – aided by deep cultural understanding - have been quick to seize the opportunity – especially in the new technology, service and lifestyle markets.

In 2016, there are numerous factors marketers should take cognisance of: Muslim influences and mobile-first connectivity in Malaysia, economic nationalism and the rise of digital in India, a move toward effectiveness in emotional storytelling in Thailand and the Philippines, and optimistic internationalism in Myanmar's frontier ad market.

All this is happening amidst threats of a global recession and fears that China's slowdown might be a drag on the rest of the world, even as the ASEAN region and India may just provide a glimmer of hope.

Warc subscribers can read the entire Asian advertising in 2016 series here.

Data sourced from Warc