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Kartina Rosli

5 Changing Consumer Trends In Asia Pacific And What It Means For Marketers

Adapting and responding to shifting behaviours and habits

Photo by Lily Banse on Unsplash

The coronavirus pandemic has led many businesses in the Asia Pacific who relied heavily on traditional marketing and brick and mortar retailing to be stuck in the deep. With people confined to their homes, brands have had to re-calibrate their marketing and PR strategies and invest in digital transformation to keep up with customers’ changing expectations. 

Here’s the deal. The #stayhome order has changed our lifestyle and how we consume media. We also tend to follow brands that are perceived to be empathetic towards the community and whose messages are targeted at those who are in need. With more people working remotely and children on home-schooling, there is naturally an increase in screen time and digital consumption.

With more time at home, families are tuning in to more news to find out the latest on the pandemic as well as killing the boredom by watching more television programmes and movie channels. With social distancing and closing of non-essential services such as tuition centres, parents are turning to online materials such as educational games, teaching videos, and enrichment programmes to keep our children’s momentum and progress going.

Here are five media trends I have observed during this pandemic and what it means for marketers in 2020 and beyond.

Life hacks and “With me” Videos. With the kids at home 24/7, many parents, including myself are trying to be more creative in preparing frequent daily dishes for the family and coming up with activities to keep our children occupied. Like many, I turn to streaming videos and watching life-hacks, self-help, and ‘with me’ videos. For one, I am a fan of Buzz Feed’s Tasty, a site that offers hundreds of food ideas for ‘stay-in chefs’ like me. On YouTube feeds, such videos became extremely popular especially with their #WithMe campaign encouraging people to #stayhome. The campaign resulted in a 600% in viewership since March 15th compared to the rest of the year.

A Google APAC report also revealed that in Asia Pacific alone; South Koreans watched more than 500 years’ worth of “with me” YouTube videos across various categories like “draw with me” and “eat with me” during the pandemic period. Similar contents were also a hit in Indonesia and Pakistan by 180% and 150% year over year, respectively. This trend of people being more ‘connected’ through devices is imperative for businesses to stay in the game and to produce media content that relates to their customers’ emotions and needs. 

Increasing value of consumer shared eCommerce. The #stayhome measures also mean we have alot of time to reorganise or discard items that we no longer need and be part of a shared eCommerce network. When I was younger, the neighbourhood secondhand bookstore was a hot place to be at as you can get titles of your favourite books for rental or purchase for less than SGD3. It was probably one of the earliest shops I remember who had consumers taking part in a shared marketplace to make an easy buck. Back then, the idea of a shared marketplace was not as intensive as now.

Today, online shared marketplaces such as Carousel is a big hit for consumers to participate in the digital economy. To reiterate this proof, I am among those who scroll pages of Carousell listings for different items. Surprisingly, more than 50% of millennials and Gen Z in the Asia Pacific believe that a pre-owned product has better value than new items. With access to technology, the digital marketplace makes it easy for people to sell items from clothes, makeup, jewellery, electrical items, and even courier services. With more people going big on sustainability and recycling, re-commerce is going to play a significant impact on Asia Pacific consumers.

(Source : Think with GoogleSource: Google/Asian Consumer Intelligence,
 “A peek into your consumer’s future 2020,” March 2020)

Exponential growth in digital media consumption. With more people having extra time on their hands, they get online to seek updated news and happenings locally and globally. This is evident in countries like Vietnam, Singapore, Hong Kong and Malaysia. More people are also investing in new knowledge and skills through online courses. For example, businesses such as education and enrichment centres are offering online literacy programmes for parents as an additional resource for parents to battle sanity with kids on home-schooling. While online learning is not new, experts believe that there will be continued interest as people grow accustomed to the new way of life. For marketers, the increase interest for digital media consumption will provide a new avenue for them to develop up-to-date, interactive and engaging content to meet the continued interest of the consumers.

Surge in social media network usage. If you are among those who do not scroll your social media channels while on this #stayhome period, you are probably a resilient minority. The fact that even if we have nowhere to go, life still goes on and many of us now turn to social media platforms to continue our daily activities. Consumers now look forward to attending activities such as religious classes, fitness classes or participating with community events ‘online’. Increasingly, more individuals, businesses, community organisations and NGOs are putting up contents daily on LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and you guessed it, TikTok to keep their community engaged.

A social media campaign that my agency did for a local mosque on their Facebook saw a surge in followers and engagement by 300% within two weeks of the campaign launch as more people can now tune in to online religious courses and LIVE Facebook events hosted by the mosques. Twitter seems to grow as a source of  information for news from experts and journalists. LinkedIn is also packed with online interviews, shareable quotes, engagement posts, and interactive content and even job offers! Marketers will now have to put more effort and content on such platforms where the consumers are, to continually engage and stay in the forefront.

Cause-related marketing gains momentum. The pandemic has seen an increase in people supporting a charity or a good cause. From brands to NGOs and individuals, cause-related marketing campaigns have attracted a big group of consumers in the region who want to make a difference in society. The campaigns which started on social media became a big hit. In Singapore, the pouring support for many foreign workers who are infected with the coronavirus was an example of a community rallying together to help these workers. There was also support for families with young children led by a local podcast host team OKLETSGO! who got their listeners to volunteer and delivered diapers and milk products to low-income parents. The increase in cause-related marketing has a great impact on brands, and moving forward; brands that have their consumers at heart will be perceived as trustworthy and authentic.

I believe that these changes in media consumption are here to stay post Covid19 as more people grow accustomed to the new norms. Experts are saying that it will take more than a year for the effects of coronavirus to settle down. Till then, marketers will have to ramp up their strategies to meet the changing needs of consumers and transform how they do businesses in order to thrive.

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Kartina Rosli
Written By

Kartina is Marketing In Asia's Editor for Op-Ed. She is also the Founder of Tin Communications. A media specialist with over 20 years of experience in both public and private sectors, she helps SMEs grow their business through strategic media and marketing plans. Connect with her on LinkedIn. You may also reach her by email at kartina@marketinginasia.com.

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