Man About Asia Ep1 : What is Asia anyway?
It’s perhaps the world’s worst kept secret that Asia represents an outstanding opportunity for brands, yet understanding this great and complex land mass is often confusing.
So we have teamed up with The Drum to create a series of short, but hopefully interesting, video series tackling some of the biggest challenges to doing business in the region.
Episode one, ‘What is Asia Anyway?’, breaks the vast and complex region into chunks, focusing on the scale of the opportunities across Asia.
In conjunction with this episode The Drum published the following article
What you need to know about Asia: Three marketers share their inside knowledge
To accompany the new film series Man About Asia, each week some of the region’s top marketers share their local knowledge about Asia’s charms, challenges and customs.
As episode one begins with MullenLowe Profero chief executive Wayne Arnold banishing the misconception that there is “one Asia”, this week we’re asking marketers what one piece of advice they would give to their counterparts approaching Asia for the first time.
‘I agree with many of the observations made by Wayne. I spent time in Singapore, Hong Kong, Thailand and Cambodia last year: every market certainly has its unique identity and culture, and it is clear that certain regional hubs are dominant.
I would however add that these are not necessarily scary, alien cultures to our own — local agency partners can help you to understand cultural nuance, and a strong, well-articulated insight can transcend regional difference and work across multiple markets.
You can establish a network before you go (I found the Marketing Society and Brand Learning to be particularly useful in this respect). You can also get a really good feel for the local media landscape by sourcing a selection of TV and press ads before you travel, and by discerning patterns and conventions from these you can quickly make your mark.
And finally the same thing is true in all markets, namely that — wherever you are — there is no substitute for getting to know your consumer.’
Just as Wayne pointed out, there truly is no such thing as one Asia. This couldn’t be more true than in marketing, where our core mission is to connect to the end consumer.
With Asia, the end consumer spans a broad spectrum of ethnicities, cultures, and beliefs. The biggest mistake marketers make is to generalise by nationality. The discussions usually start with “Koreans… Or Chinese…” With that said, you are always looking for the common thread among consumers — what can you do to segment your approach to that potential customer.
For us, it has been critical to take a step back, away from nationality, and really understand broader cultural influences, like Korean pop culture, as well as needs states as they relate to luxury, retail and travel. Also, we need to acknowledge that with digital marketing and social media, cultural trends are becoming global and gaining followership equals leadership in marketing brands.
In Asia, where mobile technology is a lifeline and a true extension of the individual, information and sharing are a way of life. This is probably the key insight to marketing in Asia today.
The best way to really understand Asia is to visit. Get on a plane and spend time over there, experience the different countries and take in their unique qualities and opportunities.
Talk to people, embrace the culture, tap into your networks, meet the marketers on the ground, ask them questions, listen and learn. Get in touch with existing networks such as The Marketing Society Asia (we have a hub in Hong Kong and Singapore SEA) to meet fellow marketers and tap into our network for advice, wisdom and connections.
Asia is vast, complex and changing fast — it’s exciting. Don’t presume that the opportunities in Asia are simply about growing your brand, it’s bigger than that: it’s about learning.