As COVID-19 continues to change the world, i-dac Bangkok’s Suchada Supakan explores Thai consumer behaviours and their relationship with content creators, while looking ahead at what’s next for influencer marketing in Thailand in 2022.

During the pandemic, consumers have shifted towards spending more time on social content, thus allowing brands and content creators the opportunity to create a digital connection that keeps society running.

So what are the new Thai consumer behaviours and their relationship with content creators? What is next for influencer marketing in Thailand in 2022 and beyond?

Theerawat Wattanamit, i-dac Bangkok’s associate director of digital media, said online influencers have “drastically disrupted the online communications scene” over the past year as people spend more time online during the pandemic.

“We have spotted some new faces of influencers, not only on the two giant platforms, Facebook and YouTube, but also the rising-star TikTok.”

He said this trend is forecast to continue upwards in 2022 due to the “reasonable monetisation” of the influencer and brand partnership.

“The utilisation of influencers will continue to increase as they help strengthen the relationship between brands and consumers throughout the entire path to purchase. We started to see some brands running a performance-based influencer marketing campaign by not only measuring social engagement but also sales conversions.”

Wattanamit explained that technology advancement allows brands and influencers to work even better together through insights-based data to plan their influencer marketing campaigns.

“Brands need to seek a diversification of online communication channels as the increasing costs of ads is expected due to the new data privacy policy. As a result, brands with a test-and-learn perspective will tend to navigate into an influencer marketing approach in order to achieve a cost-effective advertising goal.”

Influencer marketing spend spikes

There is an upward trend of influencer marketing across the globe with influencer campaign spends increasing 49% in 2020 from the previous year. In the Thai market, influencer marketing spends have also risen amid the pandemic, with year-over-year growth of 30% to THB 2 billion in 2020.

The time spent socially between influencers and their followers in Thailand has also intensified. During the outbreak:

  • 5% of Thais followed influencers on social media (Statista, October 2020).
  • 53% of Thais spent more time engaging with social influencers (i-dac survey, October 2021).
  • TikTok rocketed to become the top influencer platform nationwide.
  • Instagram continues to lead as the top influencer platform among Bangkok office workers.
What it means for brands

Now is the right time for brands to leverage the power of influence to create a digital connection.

As time spent on influencer content increases, this will become the norm. Much like any marketing strategy, an influencer marketing strategy takes deliberate targeting and planning – selecting the right influencer is as important as choosing the right platform where your target audience lives.

Knowing your target audience in the age of influence will help set the strategic communication direction for identifying who to amplify your voices, who to speak to, and where and what to engage. 

Who Thai fans are and how they engage with influencers

Thai follower tribes were researched as follower interests have shifted to involve a focus on influencers’ at-home lives. A clear differentiation between men’s and women’s favourite content was picked up, whilst a life stage clearly identifies what they like to catch up on regarding their favourite content creators.

Thai follower tribes during the pandemic:

  • 52% home lovers – “I like to take care of my house as it’s where I spend most of my time now. Watching a celeb’s house is just mesmerising.”
  • 43% practical purchasers – “I always check out bloggers’ reviews before making a purchase decision on a product.”
  • 33% entertainment addicts – “I just like to chill out catching up with movies or series reviews.”
  • 22% beauty enthusiasts – “I’ve never lived a day without grooming myself. Any beauty product people say that works, I have to try it out.”
  • 18% foodies – “I love food and I just love to keep up with a talk-of-the-town restaurant.”
  • 17% gamers – “I enjoy playing online games as much as catching game casting to level up my game.”
What it means for brands

It is important to consider who your target audience is and the types of content they want to see more of, and work with the right influencers to maximise engagement.

Catching up with in-the-moment content is another interesting aspect as the dynamics of influencer content consumption can shift at any time depending on the current circumstances of your target audience.

How the consumer journey is shaped by content creators

Many Thai followers are experienced buyers of an influencer-endorsed product. Of those surveyed, consumers noted that they often notice a new product when it is being endorsed by their influencer and sometimes are even convinced to consider or purchase said product due to relevance.

These were the top five product categories purchased that include an influencer endorsement (Statista, October 2020).

What it means for brands

Start off your influencer marketing tactics with a clear marketing objective in mind.

Think about which stage of the consumer journey you would like to focus on and that will give you strategic guidance for what to say to your target consumers and who to empower your voice.

Types of Thai influencers

Based on the profiles of influencers and their follower base, we can categorise social media influencers into five tiers to see the characteristics of each influencer tier and how it can speak for your brand.

Mega influencers: Attention grabbers

With over a million followers, these influencers’ content can be instrumental in reaching and appealing to a massive following. This type of influential voice has the ability to drive massive awareness, create positive brand appeal, shape popular culture, drive trends and generate sell-out demand for products.

With their top-tier profile comes a high price tag, yet this can be considered an investment if your marketing goal is to create impeccable visibility and brand appeal.   

Macro influencers: Impeccable engagers

They are established public figures with 500,001-1,000,000 followers. They can be actors, models, athletes, musicians or a famous person who makes an effort to generate their own content and become influential. A mix of reputation and authenticity makes the content trustworthy and engaging for their fans.

This tier of influencers can drive the best deal in terms of influencer marketing CPM (cost-per-thousand impressions) compared to other tiers.

Mid-tier influencers: Scalable engagers

Mid-tier influencers have a fan base of 50,001-500,000 followers. They are more approachable than macro and mega -influencers but give stronger reach than lower-tier influencers. These influencers put lots of effort into generating content to keep their communities running. The authentic personality and content make it convincing and relevant among their fan base.

Mid-tier influencers make a good balance between their intimate fans and scalable audience reach.

Micro influencers: Genuine sellers

Their fanbase of 10,000-50,000 followers is relatively small compared to those of the higher tiers, yet they tend to have the ability to better engage niche communities around specific interests. They are more accessible and genuine within their own community. Hence, the engagement is relatively high for this tier of influencers. The key advantage of micro influencers for brands is to get closer to more defined communities.

Micro influencers are effective for raising awareness of new products and driving conversions across a variety of communities.

Nano influencers: Next-door amplifiers

Nano influencers have 1,000-9,999 followers. A lack of fame gives them an advantage to attract strong engagement. Their advice sounds as genuine as advice from a friend. Most nano influencers became familiar faces in their communities as they interact with their followers on a personal level. If your aim is to focus on driving engagement, nano influencers could be your effective influencer marketing tactic.

However, be mindful that this would require hundreds of nano-influencers to achieve the same reach as a single higher-tier influencer.

What it means for brands

Start off with a clear marketing objective and tailor your influencer marketing tactic prior to selecting a suitable influencer for your campaign.

A high-tier influencer may not always be the answer.

  • Are you going for a superstar to reach a massive following and make your brand more appealing?
  • Are you going for the group who can help your brand engage across a variety of target groups?

Once you have your strategy, you can then start researching for the right individual(s) to power up your voice effectively. Coupled with your marketing goals, you would need to seek the right balance between your budget and the optimal result you aim to achieve from your influencer marketing campaign.

Influencer marketing trends to watch in 2021

Data-driven influencer marketing will rule

Data will be increasingly important for planning and optimising the performance of influencer marketing campaigns. Brands need to work on the right ingredients of insights data and social media metrics to effectively set up the campaign, select a potential influencer and social platform, create content that works, monitor campaign performance and eventually, optimise the campaign results.

Cross-tier and cross-type influencer partnerships will keep you on the right track

This is also relevant to why data-driven marketing tactics are important. It is essential for brands to select an influencer who is suitable for your budget and marketing objectives. What are the marketing metrics you would like to achieve? Having multiple marketing metrics to satisfy will require different tiers and/or different types of influencers to amplify your voice. For example, you might opt for a macro influencer to achieve your CPM, whilst also having micro influencers drive engagement across a variety of target segments.

Always-on influencer marketing will keep the community running

The idea of having an always-on influencer marketing campaign is to have a consistent presence and create a lasting relationship with your target audience. This will eventually result in loyalty conversions. While we’ve often seen a lot of one-off live social activities happening, brands may need to consider a long-term result by having an always-on live influencer marketing campaign to give something fans can anticipate. A data-driven influencer marketing approach should further be utilised to measure and optimise your budget and campaign performance along the way.

Cross-channel influencer campaigns will keep your personalised communication tactics on track

With increasing usage across different platforms, planning cross-channel influencer campaigns will be crucial. Brands need to explore and identify the right mix of content and social channels to achieve their marketing goals. Both Instagram and TikTok offer short-form content opportunities, while YouTube content often conveys a different purpose of communication.

Creativity and authenticity will be the watchword

Whether hardselling or softselling, branded content (content produced or sponsored by brands) is acceptable among today’s consumers. You only need to put your DNA and creativity out there. Plus, allowing your influencer to come up with their own flavour of content can further attract interest among their fans.

Ban-gu-eng and Ed7sec have more than a million Facebook fans and are widely recognised for their comedy content and branded content partnerships.  

Silver influencers will get more love (Statista, Jan 2021; GWI)

“Silver” is an up-and-coming category, reflecting a senior audience of individuals over 65 years of age. These influencers offer ageing and younger generations fresh lifestyle inspiration and a unique point of view based on their life experiences, ranging from struggles to successes. Some individuals give their audience inspiration and a breath of fresh air with their silver-inspired fashion. Today’s Thai senior audience spends more time on social media and 55% of those aged 55+ follow influencers on social media. Facebook and YouTube seem to be go-to platforms where they spend lots of time on a daily basis – 78% on Facebook and 73% on YouTube. The silver influencer trend will continue to grow, especially when the share of Thailand’s ageing population is forecast to swell by 50% over the next 10 years and their time spent online will keep rising as well.

This article is part of an ongoing series with i-dac Bangkok based on their monthly i-dac Digital Flash series, featuring insights into trends in Thailand.

The series is led by the Digital Strategic Planning unit:

  • Suchada Supakan, Head of Digital Strategic Planning
  • Natthaporn Loetsakulcharoen, Senior Manager of Digital Strategic Planning
  • Laddawan Thanlap, Senior Digital Strategic Planner

i-dac Bangkok is a digital agency specialising in performance media, branded content, and data marketing.