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How To Market To Asian Consumers

There are many factors that could influence the way you do business here in Asia, but these are the key ones for you to prepare.

The first rule of thumb when it comes to marketing products or services to Asia is this – keep those Marketing theories away.

They won’t do much good to guide you towards the marketing nirvana. Whatever ‘formula’ that were written there won’t work, for sure. Unlike their Western counterparts, Asian people are 180 degrees different when they decided to buy things. They’re just different. Their purchasing behaviour is different, the way they think is different, things that influence them to buy are different and their habits are different too.

In a simpler set of words, the buying pattern here is way different. Before you start establishing your marketing strategy for Asia, consider these factors:

They work hard. What is this got to do with buying behaviour? Well, you must know that a majority of Asian people don’t come from a rich family. I didn’t say all, I said the majority. They are either from the middle-class segment, poor or very poor. So, the situation makes them by nature a hardworking group of people. And the situation also makes them be extremely careful with money. This is how they live their life.

Price versus value. You should know this too. They hardly want to pay more than they should. To them, the value is extremely important. What do I get out of this product or services, and is it really worth to spend the money for this? This is the ultimate question that keeps on playing in their head day-in day-out prior to that purchase. That’s why most Asian people will do a price comparison when they are shopping for things they want to buy.

Free gift and a great bargain. Asian people will brag about getting that free gift from someone or their ability to sneak their way to get a great bargain of something, to their friends all day long. The proud feeling of it is unimaginable. The cheaper they could get in everything, the louder the brag can go. You don’t believe us? Simply check the pen they are using. You should be able to see a hotel logo attached to it.

The pressure of being judged. Many are scared of having a bad reputation in the eyes of their family members, neighbours, friends and colleagues back in the office. In Asia, people seem to be hardwired when it comes to judging other people but not themselves.

The ultimate soft spot – food. To the Asian people, this is a culture. And you don’t want to mess with them on their culture especially food. Remember the controversy sparked by Masterchef judge Gregg Wallace that turned into an unlikely international row? All he did was commenting a contestant’s Malaysian rendang chicken. It’s epic when Gregg was facing a head-to-head situation with the whole country – Malaysia. Guess where do Asian professionals conduct their meetings and discussions? Cafe.

I’m sure there are many more factors that could influence the way you do business here in Asia, but these are the key ones for you to prepare. Having said that, if your marketing strategy could somehow be well aligned with a combination of these factors, you should be doing fairly well regardless of where you are in Asia.

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Azleen Abdul Rahim
Written By

Azleen Abdul Rahim is the Marketing In Asia's Editor In Chief. Follow him on LinkedIn.

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