With more than half of Southeast Asia now online, the retail climate in the region is changing fast and both brands and retailers have an opportunity to “to really know their customer”, according to a regional Google executive.

“They (consumers) are spending an enormous amount of time online – not just millennials, but pretty much everyone,” Rajan Anandan, vice president for Google South East Asia and India, told the recent #Ready conference in Singapore.

And the fact that “they are spending four to five hours a day” on the internet every day makes it “unacceptable” for brands and retailers to not know them, he suggested. (For more, read WARC’s report: Three big retail trends in Southeast Asia for 2019.)

That means leveraging all available touchpoints – including the largely overlooked medium of packaging – to collect data and build a picture of who the customer really is.

“Know how they are different, and how their behaviours are evolving,” said Anandan, who added that this isn’t simply about zooming in on the much talked-about millennials.

“Pretty much everyone is online, from ages 15 to 70, and they are different in a bunch of ways because they are much more informed,” he continued – and that knowledge changes retail sales dynamics, as consumers are more ready to engage with a brand.

He also highlighted one rapidly developing area that is set to disrupt the business models of many existing brands and retailers – and that is offline distribution and delivery.

As the likes of Go-Jek and Grab evolve from ride-hailing startups to include hyperlocal delivery services, Anandan predicted that “in five years from now, in the city of Jakarta, you should be able to deliver something that costs US$0.75, and the delivery economics are going to work” – something that has the potential to impact even a traditional noodle business.

“You better be thinking hard about not selling noodles in packages, but how you participate in what’s going to most likely become (mainstream),” he said.

Sourced from WARC