The trend towards ‘super-apps’ in Asia shows no signs of slowing, as the leading regional players expand their consumer services and major Chinese ones move into government-related territory.

Mark Haycock, MullenLowe group digital director, addressed this topic at the recent at the 9 for 2019: Trends That Matter to Asia event in Singapore, where he observed the consolidation taking place via smartphones, with apps adding multiple functionalities that make them become an absolute necessity for users.

“You can see its future potential,” said Haycock. “We call it the ‘one app to rule them all’.” (For more, read WARC’s report: Brand activism, experiential, and app convergence: three marketing trends for Asia in 2019.)

In Southeast Asia, for example, ride-hailing giant Grab is working hard to win over the hearts of consumers through providing essential services such as point-to-point food deliveries, cashless payments, and express parcel deliveries.

A recent joint venture with China's leading online health care platform Ping An Good Doctor and investment in Jakarta-based grocery delivery startup HappyFresh also hints at grocery deliveries and healthcare services as imminent additions on the Grab platform.

Still, Grab is hardly the first contender to make a stab at super app status in the region. Tencent’s WeChat – which, as Haycock pointed out, even lets Chinese consumers file for divorce with ease, and may soon make the need to pack travel papers for cross-border travel between China and Hong Kong a thing of the past – is the undisputed front-runner of the indispensable app that does everything.

Come mid-March 2019, a new “hot off the press” arrangement between Singapore’s home-grown online supermarket Redmart and Alibaba-backed e-commerce company Lazada (the latter acquired the former in late 2016) will see Redmart integrated onto Lazada’s platform.

“This is real consolidation,” said Haycock.

Brands have to consider how they can “push out products and services through these apps”, he advised. Strategic collaborations could also be beneficial, he added: a brand could partner Grab to get consumers to their stores in the first place.

From a media perspective, brands can also look at the super app, with its huge tech-savvy user base, as a new media channel in its own right.

Sourced from WARC