WARC profiles young strategists from Asia in this special series commemorating the 2021 edition of the WARC Awards for Asian Strategy.

This year, the WARC Awards for Asian Strategy aims to celebrate strategy as a marketing discipline and career, looking ahead to how the next ten years will be shaped by new thinking and talent.

We speak to young agency strategists across Asia to learn what their take is, on strategy’s future. This next generation of enquiring minds, after all, will soon bear the mantle of articulating not what strategy is, but rather, what it can – and should – be.

Read on to find out what they think.

Hearing from India's next-gen strategists

India is a dynamic and complex market with a longstanding appreciation for the role of strategy in marketing planning. With more than 50% of its population below the age of 25 and more than 65% below the age of 35, it’s no stretch to say that the country’s future rests with its youth.

The young strategists from India that WARC reached out to all have one thing in common: A nuanced understanding of their chosen discipline, paired with an insatiable curiosity that drives the pursuit of actionable insights that can make or break a brief. But as is the case with the best stories, it’s better to hear directly from the source.

Next-gen Bangladeshi strategists speak

As one of the most exciting markets in Asia, Bangladesh never ceases to surprise. One of the few economies to have managed the pandemic better than others, the country is well-positioned in the immediate future, experts say. And leading from the front will be the Bangladeshi youth.

It gets even more exciting with the WARC Awards for Asian Strategy 2021. Last year, Bangladesh entered the awards after a long absence and Grey Bangladesh took home the Grand Prix. This year, ahead of the awards, we spoke to some young strategists from the country. Watch out for these young guns.

Taking note of Sri Lanka’s young strategists

In terms of size, Sri Lanka could be a much smaller market when compared to its immediate neighbour. Then again, dismiss it at your own peril. The consumer mindset in the island nation is complex, they say, and here’s where the new wave of strategy led by the youth promises to make a difference.

The strategists WARC spoke to, whether having been introduced to the discipline by chance or not, speak passionately about their roles and responsibilities. And it is heartening to note how they are only eager to learn and grow further.

Investigating Indonesia’s young strategists

As Southeast Asia’s largest economy, Indonesia recorded 7.07% growth in the April-June quarter compared with a year earlier, its first expansion in five quarters. But the road ahead remains rocky, as the country struggles to deal with the rapid spread of COVID-19 amongst its population of 276 million.

But amidst this gloomy state of affairs, the nation’s young strategists are keeping a close eye on developments and finding inspiration from their own curiosity-driven pursuit of game-changing insights. Indonesia has long been known for its tenacity and resourcefulness, and this holds true with the young strategists making their presence felt in a rapidly changing region.

Monitoring Malaysia’s young strategists

Malaysia may still be in the throes of combatting COVID-19, with its near future prospects remaining hazy, but its young strategists remain resilient and clearheaded. With an eye on orchestrating real business impact in a market that remains ripe for change, these up-and-comers are driven by an insatiable curiosity about the world and the opportunities it holds.

And there’s much to be optimistic about, as access to data continues to unlock new insights and the continued maturity of the strategic discipline enables further specialisation for those so inclined. The thinkers borne out of this dynamic market will certainly be making their presence felt in the years to come. 

Keeping pace with the Philippines’ young strategists

Talent is never in short supply in a market like the Philippines. And while the economy has yet to fully recover from the hit from the COVID-19 pandemic, it is a nation defined by resilience, hard work, generosity and passion.

And these qualities are reflected in the young strategists we spoke to, all of whom hold a considered take on their current profession and its future. They also share a steadfast curiosity about the world around them, driven by a hunger to cut through the noise and get to the heart of any matter. The future looks bright for the young talent rising through the ranks in the archipelago nation.

Tuning in to Singapore’s young strategists

Singapore may be one of the smallest nations in Southeast Asia, but as a regional hub it certainly punches above its weight. While the global pandemic continues to limit travel and in-market movements amidst the backdrop of a less than robust economic outlook, it hasn’t dampened the enthusiasm and hunger of the island’s young strategists.

Always with an eye toward the long-term, bigger picture, if there is one thing these curious minds have in common, it is a hunger to do and be more. It’s more than likely that Singapore’s young strategy community will soon be at the forefront of orchestrating sizeable change across markets.

Thailand’s young strategists speak up

Thailand may still be grappling with its third wave of COVID-19 cases, with a path to a strong economic recovery still unclear, but that hasn’t dampened the enthusiasm of its young strategists. Despite the uncertainty, they remain anchored in the belief that strong strategic thinking will move the needle and create meaningful impact.

If there’s one thing these young strategists have topping the wish list, it is for more time. More time to think, and really do more to help change brands and businesses. Thailand’s strategy community is certainly one to watch.

Listening in on Vietnam’s young strategists

Vietnam, like most of Southeast Asia, continues to battle the rise in COVID-19 cases via lockdown measures. But while the market’s economic outlook remains subdued, that hasn’t dimmed the view that the future is full possibilities for these young minds.

One thing’s for certain – no matter what the landscape may be at the other end of the current COVID tunnel, these bright practitioners are focused on looking forward and seizing every opportunity to learn, grow and make a difference. They’ll no doubt be making their presence felt in the coming years.

Picking the brains of China’s young strategists

China has certainly fared much better than most of the world in navigating through the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. It remains one of the top performing economies in the world and its booming marketing industry reflects that optimism about the future.

The country’s community of strategists is ambitious, curious and laser focused on forging an upward path. Already attuned to working in a constantly changing and rapid-paced environment, don’t be too surprised when the next generation starts looking beyond China and seizing a leading role on the global stage.

Taking heed of Hong Kong’s young strategists

Hong Kong has had it rough, but things are starting to look up. Its economic rebound continued in the second quarter of 2021, with gross domestic product growing 7.5% year-on-year as business activities revived amid a relaxation of social-distancing rules.

The market’s young strategists are keeping their eye on the horizon ahead, driven by a deep love for the discipline and the perspectives it unlocks to enable meaningful outcomes. With full confidence in the value that strategy brings to the table, these curious minds will no doubt continue to push the boundaries of what it means to be a marketing strategist.

Paying attention to Taiwan’s young strategists

Taiwan has fared better than most in navigating the upheaval brought about by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Its economy is expected to grow 5.46% in 2021, on the back of a strong rebound in exports.

In a market known for its progressive approach to technology, it’s no wonder that its young strategists are tech-savvy and focused on leveraging the benefits of AI, data and other emerging technologies to augment their strategist skillsets. This will be the market to watch for impactful and cutting-edge work.

Chatting with Japan’s young strategists

Japan has long held a reputation for being a leader in design, innovation and technology. But the outlook for the country is muted, with the fight against COVID-19 still ongoing, and the Summer Olympics and Paralympics expected to only deliver a marginal boost to the economy.

Nevertheless, that hasn’t stopped the market’s young strategists from powering on with their priorities clear. Here, the focus isn’t so much on the frontiers of new technologies but the quest to better understand the mechanics of culture; a return to the foundations of strategic thinking and its mission of decoding the human condition.

Connecting with the young strategists of South Korea

South Korea has fared better than many markets in the region, with a reported GDP growth of 0.7% in the second quarter of this year. But the near future remains uncertain as new restrictions to contain an outbreak in the country dampen the outlook.

But that hasn’t stopped the nation’s young strategists from looking ahead and staying focused on honing their craft. Equipped with a mature and nuanced take on the role their profession plays in the bigger marketing picture, these up-and-coming minds are driven by the desire to make their mark via truly innovative thinking and strategies.

How to enter the WARC Awards for Asian Strategy

The WARC Awards for Asian Strategy are now open for entries. The deadline for submission is 14th July, 2021.

Now in their 11th year, the Awards aim to showcase the region’s best strategic thinking with a view to inspire the next generation of strategists.

Entry is free. For more info on how to submit your work, visit the Awards website.