SINGAPORE: Marketers in ASEAN recognise they need to see improvement in certain areas, such as consumer insight and innovation, if they are to optimise their digital transformation strategies, a new survey has revealed.

More than 100 marketers from 65 companies were polled by the World Federation of Advertisers (WFA) in conjunction with national advertiser associations in Indonesia, Malaysia, The Philippines and Singapore. They represented brands that spend more than $54bn a year globally.

The survey results, which WFA is releasing a week before the Global Marketer Week event in Kuala Lumpur, found respondents broadly believed they were on top of areas such as design, brand positioning and shopper/point of sale marketing.

But they felt the key areas that require greater focus and improvement cover consumer insights, integrated activity planning, innovation, digital marketing and analytics if they were to enhance their digital capabilities.

The need to improve capabilities in agencies was also identified by survey respondents, who thought PR performed worst, followed by creative and digital.

However, media and marketing research partners performed best with 54% of respondents describing them as good to excellent.

The main challenges with agencies included rapid turnover of staff, as 61% agreed or strongly agreed that "our agencies cannot hold on to their best people".

However, a similar proportion (63%) also agreed or strongly agreed that "there are plenty of very exciting new agency start-ups emerging".

And in a further regional finding, just over half (51%) also agreed or strongly agreed that local agencies have a superior understanding of local business issues compared to international entrants.

"ASEAN is a fast-moving and fast-changing region with multiple markets and multiple ethnicities. Managing digital transformation in such a complex part of the world challenges even the very best marketers," said Ranji David, marketing director, Asia at the WFA.

"The winners will be those that effectively deliver innovation, achieve data understanding and maintain brand relevance with diverse target groups while accessing regionally relevant experiences, insights and case studies."

Data sourced from World Federation of Advertisers; additional content by Warc staff