When it comes to the effective use of content, a new study advises brands to strike a balance between appealing to the emotional needs of consumers while also sharing relevant information to influence their purchasing decisions.

That is because almost four-in-five (78%) of consumers across six Southeast Asian markets say they prefer “factual” information rather than content that plays to their emotions, according to a new survey conducted by PR agency Ruder Finn.

Based on responses from 1,648 consumers aged 18 to 35, the survey also revealed that a majority (52%) still prefer to read content rather than watch a video and that 70% prefer “digestible” content that they can return to for more information.

However, the survey – covering Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, the Philippines and Vietnam – also revealed significant variances across the region in terms of engagement with “emotional” brand content.

According to Mumbrella Asia, the great majority of Indonesian consumers (91%) prefer content that is “factual and straightforward”, with only 9% opting for content that “stirs emotion in me”.

Similar large majorities in favour of factual content exist in Malaysia (86%), Thailand (83%), the Philippines (76%) and Singapore (74%), although opinion is more evenly split in Vietnam where 41% prefer emotional content and 59% want the facts.

Whether factual or emotional, Southeast Asian consumers continue to have a “heavy appetite” for content, the Ruder Finn survey found. Overall, 59% ask for more content that entertains, 52% want content that informs and educates, while 40% would like to receive more help and advice.

Again, there are variances across the region, with consumers in Singapore and Malaysia showing a higher propensity towards being entertained, while their counterparts in Indonesia and the Philippines are more likely to want content that educates them.

And, significantly, almost two-thirds (63%) of consumers in the six markets prefer content from international brands rather than local brands, while 69% want brand content to be more “honest” and “real”.

“Clearly, Southeast Asian consumers – at least from the six countries surveyed – are open to, interested in and motivated by brand content, and companies should be proudly labelling their content with their brands,” said Martin Alintuck, Ruder Finn’s managing director for Southeast Asia.

“The work to be done by brands revolves around ensuring their content creates a perception among consumers of authenticity, honesty and reality,” he added.

Sourced from Ruder Finn, Asia One, Mumbrella Asia; additional content by WARC staff