Diversity marks the state of digital in Asia-Pacific, and it is this reality that makes market localization an imperative for marketers in the year ahead.

“It’s going to need more effort, and more investments as well. Nonetheless, the investments will be justified,” said Simon Kemp, founder of Kepios, at Hootsuite’s recent Digital in 2018: Data, Trends & Opportunities webinar recently.

“You will see better return on that investment if you were to plan on a country-by-country basis,” he said.

This was the major takeaway from the 2018 Global Digital report for We Are Social, which Kemp compiles annually and has become somewhat of a bell-weather for key media trends in the Asia-Pacific region.

According to Kemp, more than two billion people in the region use the Internet - 48% penetration at a regional level. There are also 1.779 billion active social media users with social at 42% penetration.

However, there are dramatic differences between markets. This divergence can be seen particularly in social media behaviours, with South East Asian markets spending considerably more time online than other countries in the region.

  • Time spent online: In Thailand, people spent a daily average of 9 hr 38 min online. In Japan, the average time spent was 4 hr 12 min.
  • Time spent on social: Filipinos set aside almost four hours a day for social media on average, versus the Japanese who spend just 48 minutes daily on social.
  • Dominant messaging platforms: Whatsapp and Facebook Messenger may reign in many APAC markets, but local platforms are taking off: WeChat rules the messaging landscape in China (the company announced it has 1 billion users as of March 2018) while Line is most popular in Japan and Thailand, with KakaoTalk hugely popular in South Korea.
  • E-commerce adoption levels: 74% of South Korean respondents shopped online in the past month as of January 2018, compared to just 26% of respondents in India, according to GlobalWebIndex.