The Brand Discovery Index, from GlobalWebIndex, is based on results from more than 150,000 internet users in 31 countries and creates a single measure of the ease with which consumers can find brand messages.
It found, for example, that social media is six times more important for brands in markets such as Indonesia and Thailand than it is in Japan or the UK.
To emphasise the difference in attitudes, consumers in the Netherlands are seven times more likely to find out about new brands and products from advertisements than social media.
Another significant digital channel is mobile, and campaigns in countries such as Thailand and Vietnam are around four times more effective than in developed markets like the UK and the Netherlands.
Developed internet markets, however, display different characteristics. In Japan or the UK, for example, search is twice as important for brands in the digital consumer purchase journey.
Established brands also exert greater power in these markets. In Japan, brand loyal consumers outnumber those who are "brand adventurous" by two to one: some 58% stick to a brand once they find one they like, while 27% always like to try new products.
By contrast, consumers in emerging markets are much less fixed in their brand selection: 73% of Filipino internet users like to try new products.
"With brands investing ever more in digital and social media, it is critical that we understand how all channels work together, with single metrics that cover all communications regardless of whether they are on or offline," said Tom Smith, founder of GlobalWebIndex.
Among the study's other findings are that consumers in Hong Kong are most likely to rely on price comparison and consumer review sites when searching for product information online.
And Sweden produced the lowest online BDI score, indicating that Swedes are the least likely of any nationality to use the internet to engage with brands or search for products.
Data sourced from GlobalWebIndex; additional content by Warc staff