Creativity Beyond Limits: How AI is Transforming the Creative Industry

Creativity Beyond Limits: How AI is Transforming the Creative Industry

AI in creative

This article was originally published in Thai-American Business Magazine.


Early last year, Coca-Cola launched a first-of-its-kind AI platform to engage digital artists, ad creatives, and fans to generate original artwork with iconic creative assets from the brand’s archives. At a time when the creative and advertising industry feared the potential displacement of human talent by artificial intelligence, the beverage company initiated a campaign to empower creatives to collaborate with generative AI. 

It was a bold move — even a risky stance of deploying a largely uncharted technology — but it gave the world more than just a glimpse of the future. As the beverage company’s CEO James Quincey said, not taking the risk is a hopeless point of view to start from. 

The creative and advertising economy is currently undergoing a significant transformation, pushing industry players beyond boundaries that have been in place for decades. With generative AI thrust into the mainstream, it would be more challenging for brands to escape its long shadow than to leverage its power in driving the best possible business outcomes. 

Democratizing the Creative Industry 

For a long time, advertising was a game dominated by big players. Only massive corporations with substantial budgets could afford grand campaigns from top-tier agencies, leaving small businesses to rely on traditional methods and word-of-mouth to make a mark in the market.  

Thanks to the latest innovations, even the smallest businesses create extensive ads. Generative AI has given industry players a considerably more level playing field to reach customers and forge brand loyalty. Marketers, creative producers, graphic designers, and copywriters are learning to break free from traditional practices and create quality creative content that was seemingly out of reach just a few years ago. 

This shift did not and will not shake up the big names in advertising, as many have feared. However, it is a game-changer for small companies with big ambitions. With AI offering a fair chance to join the transformation of the advertising and creative industry, brands and marketers can revolutionize personalization at scale, using customer insights and creativity to craft tailored and engaging content that resonates with individual customers on a deeper level.  

The technology conglomerate Meta rolled out its first generative AI features for advertisers, allowing customization of creative assets by generating multiple diverse backgrounds to change the look of product images. Creating varied backgrounds for product images traditionally involved costly and time-consuming commercial shoots. Meta’s generative AI streamlines this process, allowing brands to efficiently customize visuals based on the preferences and characteristics of their target markets. This reduces the logistical challenges associated with multiple shooting times and opens new possibilities for agile and responsive marketing strategies, regardless of the size of the business.  

Bridging the Language Gap, Capturing Global Audiences 

The goal of the creative and advertising industry is to reach as wide an audience as possible, connecting people across geographical boundaries and diverse cultures. However, language differences hinder effective communication. Imagine if your favorite Korean or Thai dramas were devoid of translation options. How devastating would that be? 

To address this linguistic challenge, AI-driven language translation and localization tools have become pivotal in making creative content accessible globally. As the world’s largest streaming service, Netflix has significantly intensified its localization efforts with high-quality subtitles and dubs. Netflix’s global success stems from its ability to make its content, wherever it may be produced, to be culturally relevant to international audiences. 

Concurrently, Disney’s commitment to content localization is evident in its increased spending, reaching 33 billion Dollars in 2022 compared to 25 billion Dollars in 2021, as disclosed by Andrew Aherne, the company’s VP of distribution operations. Disney Plus now provides an expanding array of languages and subtitles, enhancing the platform’s appeal and delivering a personalized viewing experience. 

Several AI startups and creative platforms, including Deepdub, Papercup, Resemble AI, and ElevenLabs, actively contribute to the field, providing dubbing services for domestic and international studios, streaming services, gaming, and creators. 

Regulating the Use of AI to Protect Creative Talents 

AI in Creative

As AI use in the advertising industry accelerates, governments are seeking to implement foundational rules to ensure ethical practices, transparent utilization, and liability. The EU, Britain, and Australia, among other nations, are already in the process of drafting policies to regulate the use of this technological tool. Meanwhile, China has issued a set of temporary measures requiring companies to submit security assessments and obtain clearance before releasing mass-market AI products. Italy initially banned the platform over data privacy issues but restored access less than a month later. In contrast, the US has allowed tech companies to develop their own AI guardrails. 

A pressing question demanding attention is whether the extensive data utilized to train large language models requires consent from authors, artists, and producers, or if there is a requirement to acknowledge and provide compensation for the utilization of their works. A lawsuit filed by Getty Images, accusing Stability AI of copying over 12 million images from its database, has brought conversations about intellectual property (IP), copyright infringement, and plagiarism to the forefront.  

The ethical hazards, as highlighted by many artists and AI critics, underscore the need for more precise boundaries and legal frameworks in the realm of AI-driven content creation. Effectively addressing intellectual property issues requires a collective effort from different stakeholders. AI developers must adhere to data acquisition laws, ensuring proper licensing or compensation for IP used in training models. Users, whether individuals and businesses, should exercise caution, inquire about training data sources, review terms of service and privacy policies, and avoid AI tools lacking confirmation of proper licensing or adherence to open-source licenses. 

Implementing robust IP protection laws is crucial for securing the rights of human creative talents, while also fostering an environment conducive to innovation and creativity by ensuring that creators receive protection and recognition. It is a delicate balancing act between technological advancements and societal safety, but there is really no other way to foster sustainable growth than by promoting responsible and ethical innovation. 

As we anticipate further disruption from AI-powered content in the creative and advertising industry, we see a future free from conventional limits. The intersection of artificial intelligence and human ingenuity is an exciting territory to explore – and we are only at the beginning of a long, long road.  While ChatGPT cannot predict its own future development (we asked it), what is certain is that AI has arrived, and there is no going back. 

The AI revolution has started? Check out how AI-powered agency Rover is leading this new era in PR and marketing.

 


ABOUT THE AUTHORS 

Leveraging more than 10 years of local and regional planning experience, Phuc Ngo is the Founding Vice President at Rover. He specializes in brand strategy and IMC through PR, digital, and social

As the Founding Vice President at Rover, Khine Zar Thwe spearheads agency accounts, nurtures client relationships, and formulates insightful strategies. 

 

Chinese auto in Thailand

 

Consumers in Thailand hold increasingly positive views of Chinese vehicles due to favorable pricing, advanced technology, and appealing design aesthetics, according to a study of the regional automotive market conducted by Vero and Chinese integrated marketing management company WeBridge.

The study, titled The Road to Southeast Asia: A Study of Consumer Perceptions and Market Opportunities for Chinese Automotive Brands” delves into the nuanced landscapes of Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, and the Philippines. 

The study found that 72% of Thai consumers have generally favorable perceptions of Chinese cars, particularly for their affordability, technological features, and sleek and modern designs, appealing to price-conscious Thai consumers looking for budget-friendly options without compromising functionality, smart features, and style.

 

Chinese auto in Thailand


This correlates with a broader interest in Chinese products among Thai consumers. The study revealed that positive views of Chinese brands are linked to their seamless integration of online and offline distribution channels (41%), overall affordability of products and services (31%), positive recommendations and reviews (12%), functionality and design (12%), and cheaper shipping and import taxes (7%).  

To gain a better understanding of what’s driving Thailand’s automotive industry, we also narrowed down the factors influencing car purchases. Findings revealed that 43% of Thais view car ownership as a personal preference and lifestyle choice, 27% prioritize fuel savings, 19% care about design quality, 11% value performance, and 8% consider it a way to elevate social status.  


Meanwhile, the study did indicate some challenges for Chinese automotive brands. 
Sentiments in the study indicated that complex car loans and the high costs of car insurance compound financial concerns for Thai consumers, respectively making up 26% and 15% of conversations about barriers to purchase. Expensive maintenance and repairs are also a considerably significant concern, accounting for 8% of conversations.

 

Leveraging favorable sentiments can elevate Chinese EV brands’ stature in Thailand 

 Chinese electric vehicle (EV) makers can capitalize on their increasing prominence in Thailand by positioning themselves as tech-driven, offering cutting-edge innovations to align with the preferences of the local market, according to executives at Vero.  And as Thailand pushes for green mobility, Chinese brands can strengthen their efforts to promote the environmental benefits of EVs, signifying a more sustainable and future-forward lifestyle. 

“Chinese EVs have already captured a significant share of the Thai auto market, and their position is only going to grow more pronounced as they build facilities in Thailand and address consumer pain points such as charging infrastructure and battery swapping. China is a world leader in electric vehicles and green mobility, and using this expertise to help Thailand achieve its own sustainability goals can further cement Chinese EV brands’ reputations,” said Quang Do, Vero Vice President of IMC Consulting, who was among the executives leading the study. 

Prangthong Jitcharoenkul, Account Director and co-leader of Vero’s mobility practice in Thailand added that it is also essential for Chinese auto brands to localize their approach. By understanding consumer behaviors and the socio-economic situation in Thailand, they can deliver tailored narratives that resonate with their target market. 

“Chinese EV brands can leverage their current positive reputation among the target market. For example, they can highlight how the latest technology addresses Thai consumer pain points and highlight the role regional culture plays in which vehicles are introduced in each market.  The study indicates that Chinese brands are in a good position among Thai audiences, and that they should lean into this positive sentiment to better compete with other players in the growing EV market,” said Ms. Jitcharoenkul.   

Read the full study at this link. English and Mandarin versions are also available for download. 

Data Storyteller - Tamanna Bajaj 

It’s no secret – data storytelling is a marketing gold for any brand. In the digital age, where we are constantly confronted with a million numbers we can barely comprehend or attach context to, data storytelling turns numerical values into compelling narratives that become the core foundation of the decision-making process, reveal interesting patterns and trends, and ultimately enrich our understanding of the world. Or a brand’s audience, to be specific. 

Data storytelling blends hard data and human emotive communication, enabling marketing professionals and brands to find their right audience and pinpoint effective strategies for reaching them. When raw numbers are transformed into insights with real meanings – like a consumer survey that goes far beyond demographics, uncovering interests, attitudes, and motivations – they unlock innovations and business strategies that have otherwise been impossible to conceive. 

To Tamanna Bajaj, who joined Vero as the regional director of data and insights in November, data has never been more powerful and essential. The intense competition among brands vying for the same markets and the ever-changing consumer demands have emphasized the crucial role of insights in the dynamic interplay between consumer understanding and industry leadership. 

With a background in engineering, data analytics, artificial intelligence, urban science, and policy planning, Tamanna embodies Vero’s forward-thinking approach to data and insights. Tamanna is now leading a team of data miners and consultants for Insights IQ, helping empower our partner clients with in-depth analysis of their brand’s reputation across various vital metrics, including social media sentiment, media coverage, and customer feedback. 

In a recent conversation with Tamanna, she delves into the intricacies of data storytelling, unveiling its transformative impact on shaping brand narratives and translating audience insights into powerful strategies that resonate at the core of meaningful connections. 

 

What sparked your interest in data and analytics?  

When I saw the potential of how powerful data could be when harnessed in the right way, I was really drawn to it. Data proves indispensable to any industry – it has now become a survival tool. Every business in every sector recognizes the pivotal role of strategically harnessed data. And as a practitioner, data allows me to explore different tools and subjects and not be confined to a single realm or discipline. 

And I have always been interested in mysteries and solving problems and when I was young, I wanted to be a detective. In my opinion, being a data analyst is like being a detective. You have to solve a mystery by digging through the data and unraveling clues. It’s like solving a puzzle to extract the best insights and takeaways.

 

What’s the most complicated aspect of data and insights?  

Data cleaning is always tricky. Data comes in many forms, often it can be in its raw, unfiltered form. often in its raw, unfiltered state. To derive the necessary insights, the imperative initial step involves meticulously cleaning the data. This can be a tedious process and, at times, manual. But it is also a very crucial step because it ensures the results are accurate and redundant data is filtered out.

You call yourself a “data storyteller.” How do you transform complicated numbers into a story? 

Yes, Data Storytelling is almost like combining scientific methods with artistic ones, almost like painting a picture for the audience using statistics and numbers. It involves approaching data as a journey, exploring the fundamental questions of Who? What? When? Where? and How? We guide our client or the audience through this journey, unraveling the narrative that the data inherently holds. 

Visualizations, such as charts, graphs, and maps, play a crucial role in data storytelling. They help illustrate data trends, comparisons, and relationships in a way that is easily understandable even by those who don’t have technical backgrounds. Thoughtfully designed visualizations elevate the storytelling experience and ensure that the information is delivered with utmost clarity and precision. Most importantly, data storytelling is about inspiring action – whether it’s formulating a new product concept, orchestrating a strategic approach to branding, or sparking innovative campaigns.
 

In what ways do data and insights contribute to the decision-making process of a brand or business?

Data serves as a crucial asset for brands seeking to enhance their decision-making processes. It enables a comprehensive understanding of various facets, such as customer interests, through demographic insights and the perception of the brand through social listening—evaluating brand awareness and sentiment.  

For instance, brands leverage customer data to delineate segments based on demographics, behavior, or preferences. This segmentation facilitates targeted marketing campaigns, allowing, let’s say, a clothing brand to customize its advertising for young adults, families, and seniors based on their distinct preferences. This strategic use of data ensures informed decision-making and the optimization of marketing efforts

Is a baseline understanding of data and insights common knowledge among the new generation of workforce, and how imperative is upskilling in this domain? 

Undoubtedly, data has become ubiquitous – it is everywhere and is used in different ways. Companies today, regardless of what industry they’re in, are undergoing a massive digital transformation, and there’s increasing recognition of data as a strategic asset that enhances operational efficiency, fosters innovation and leads to sustainable growth.  

This paradigm shift signifies that companies are actively seeking a workforce equipped with an integral skill set for analyzing and interpreting data.  Professionals – new and seasoned – need to know that data literacy is now critical for career growth, and it might soon become a strict pre-requisite to any job. In the years to come, we will be confronted with new technologies, intelligent machines, and algorithms that will require adeptness in data-related competencies. Fortunately, plenty of tools and resources are available for upskilling, ensuring that we stay prepared and relevant in this modern professional landscape. 

 

Thailand AI 2023

We look back on the trending AI controversies that have sparked thought-provoking conversations in Thailand this year. | Artwork by Anuphab Buddhaphan

 

With AI taking center stage in the tech world in 2023, there’s no denying that it’s here to stay, and it is starting to make big waves among local businesses and communities. In the meantime, we consumers and end users find ourselves thrown into a whirlwind of sensations and social theatrics. Thailand’s distinctly sardonic online culture is well suited for the zeitgeist, so naturally, AI wouldn’t be excluded from mockery, especially among the tech and art communities.   

As the year comes to a close, join us as we look back on the trending AI controversies of 2023 that have made millions of Thai netizens stop scrolling and engage with brands and artists. We will also explore how marketers and brands can take advantage of this ever-evolving landscape while respecting customers’ diverse views on AI. 

By the numbers  

Thailand is arguably among the most enthusiastic adopters of AI, with various initiatives in both public and private sectors aiming to integrate AI into their systems to improve both productivity and creativity by automating menial tasks.  According to a report by the Electronic Transactions Development Agency (ETDA) and National Science and Technology Development Agency (NSTDA), over 50% of Thai companies have plans for AI implementation. Among those that have already integrated AI, their objectives include improving production or organizational service efficiency (50%), facilitating internal management (43%), and increasing revenue (36%).  

In a recent survey by Publicis Sapient gauging perceptions of Gen AI across seven countries, Thailand stood out prominently. Of the 2,061 Thai respondents, over a third (35%) had personally or professionally used Generative AI tools, placing Thailand near the top for AI usage, just behind Australia (38%). Additionally, 55% of Thai consumers said they expect that Generative AI will enhance their interactions with brands.  

AI has landed in Thailand, but not safely 

ChatGPT launched in November 2022 and gained significant traction in Thailand in early 2023. Early users were fascinated by its versatility in tasks like answering questions, crafting content, and sparking creative ideas—a boon for students, marketers, and brands alike. 

As the AI phenomenon gripped the online world, it also prompted a shift in how corporate and creative professionals operate. Difficult questions arose: How do we keep up with AI? What sets our work apart from AI-generated content? How reliable are these AI-generated responses? How can we copyright AI-prompted work? With these queries in mind, let’s delve into how the Thai creative community is responding to the rise of AI. 

Thailand’s art scene shaken 

Vero’s examination of social media discussions about AI shows that Thai people are especially concerned about AI’s impact on the art world.  

The Loopsie app has thrown Thailand’s art and literature community for a loop. Leveraging AI, Loopsie transforms existing photos into anime-inspired images, creating an overnight sensation. The controversy was heightened when Silpakorn University’s Faculty of Painting, Sculpture, and Graphic Arts shared a Loopsie-generated creation of their faculty common space on their Facebook page. An outcry ensued, with existing students and alumni condemning the faculty’s decision to use AI over genuine student art to promote their program, and concerns were raised about the ethical use of existing art references without clear consent. Given the context of an art department within Thailand’s foremost university dedicated to arts, the choice to employ AI-generated art is undeniably ironic — and apparently misguided. AI certainly has its place, but we shouldn’t underestimate the backlash that results when it usurps human creativity.  

Thailand AI 2023

New job of 2023: AI Artist 

Case in point: On October 19, 2023, The Ghost Radio, an online radio show in Thailand renowned for horror storytelling, took to their social media to announce a job opening for an “AI Artist” role. The objective was to assist the team in creating illustrations for the ghost stories featured in the program. However, the posting was promptly withdrawn in the wake of backlash, with critics questioning the ethics of AI, particularly its training from pre-existing works where the consent of the original artists remains uncertain. 

The team quickly issued an apology to their audience, affirming that internal discussions and viewer feedback were considered, and they ultimately decided to cancel the recruitment:

“The team acknowledges the public outcry and comments and has extensively deliberated on the matter internally. Consequently, we have reached a decision to cancel the recruitment for this particular position. The Ghost Radio sincerely apologizes for the events that transpired and is open to hearing every opinion of our viewer.”

 

– Statement from The Ghost Radio, posted on Facebook page, October 19, 2023 

 

While some expressed disappointment with the show and even threatened to stop tuning in, most of the audience praised the team for their courage and for paying attention to public sentiment, particularly in supporting artists and genuine art. 

#WriterSaysNoToAIArt  

In September 2023, another controversy surfaced when online novelists formed a coalition against the use of AI-generated cover art, which has been one of the primary avenues for new artists to have their work seen. This sparked a heated debate on X (formerly Twitter) regarding the impact of AI on artistic expression and job opportunities for emerging artists with the hashtag #นักเขียนไม่เอาปกAI (#WriterSaysNoToAIArt). On the other side, some have argued that novelists have the freedom to choose AI-generated art, provided they are upfront with their readers about it, and those readers can choose whether to support such choices. 

Thailand AI 2023

Transparency is key 

The overarching theme is clear: concerns about AI dominance have brought to the forefront a profound appreciation for artistic integrity. Artists and their audiences care about the essence of art, the effort invested in its creation, and fair compensation for creators. Transparency has emerged as a critical value in this evolving landscape. 

Adobe, the vanguard behind the renowned Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator, has taken a unique approach to AI in art. Adobe Firefly, a web app, explores generative AI’s potential in art creation, incorporating a compensation model for contributing artists. In publicizing the app, the company emphasizes responsible AI development:

“Adobe is committed to developing generative AI responsibly, with creators at the center. Our mission is to give creators every advantage — not just creatively, but practically. As Firefly evolves, we’ll continue to work closely with the creative community to build technology that supports and improves the creative process.”

 

– Adobe’s approach to generative AI, as seen on the Adobe Firefly landing page.

 

What this means for AI adopters 

While some software providers are making efforts to be transparent and ethical when deploying AI, the majority lack clear guidelines, which raises concerns about the potential for creators to face plagiarism in their work. 

Although many businesses are now implementing AI into their products and services, the backlash from the public and artistic communities shows that there is strong resistance to AI art taking the place of art made by humans, which stems both from the typical fear of people losing jobs to AI but also broader societal concerns about the loss of original, disruptive ideas. While it’s true that humans draw inspiration from past artistic works and sometimes imitate or train from existing materials, human creative expression also draws from an individual’s unique life experiences, feelings, and perceptions and combines those in ways that can be powerful and revelatory. As such, AI can never meaningfully replace human artists. 

For brands and marketers, one thing is clear: transparency and honesty with audiences are invaluable. This is always the case for earning brand trust, but it’s especially crucial when dealing with sensitive topics such as AI. For most brands, having the public perceive that they support artists is worth more than the time or money might save using AI. 

Few things are certain about the future of AI, but it’s clear that this is not just a passing trend; it’s an inevitable transformative force that has become an integral part of our creative landscape. For brands, it will be essential to navigate this landscape responsibly and stay attuned to the evolving dynamic between AI and artistic expression. 

 


ABOUT THE AUTHOR 

Chanon Raopanya consults on communications strategy for tech brands and corporate clients such as Intel, Sennheiser, and Mastercard. As a technology, film, and gaming enthusiast, he is always excited about technological advancements and innovation in products and services. 

 


Healthy food choices in Southeast Asia

 

Southeast Asia and India’s highly diverse culinary landscapes have seen significant shifts over the past years. With emerging food trends and the rise of technologies that impact consumers’ journey from buying to dining, conversations about food have become a lot more complex than just what to eat for dinner. 

As a result, consumers in Southeast Asia have become more knowledgeable about healthier eating habits, which include actively seeking more nutritious, sustainable food options to improve their mental, physical, and psychological well-being.   

Vero teamed up with India-based agency ON PURPOSE to examine consumers in Southeast Asia and their growing appetites for healthier food. 

Consumers seek healthier food options

Asia-Pacific health and wellness food market is forecasted to experience a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 9.9% by 2029, according to Data Bridge Market Research. This is boosted by the growing demand for healthy and nutrition-rich foods and the rise in the number of health-conscious consumers in the region. 

A survey conducted by Vero and Decision Lab found that 53% of those polled said they are eating more fruits and vegetables, with 43% eating more plant-based food. Among the 11 markets surveyed, the Philippines ranked highest (62%) in their openness to plant-based foods, showing Filipinos’ evolving focus on health and wellness

In India, the market size of the F&B industry is expected to reach $505.92 billion by 2027 with a CAGR of 11.05%. According to research by Mintel, 74% of food and drink shoppers agree that a greater variety of healthy prepared food options should be made available. Additionally, 34% of Indian consumers indicated they are likelier to buy ready-to-eat meals labeled as low/reduced salt.  

Post-COVID, brands have increased their healthy food offerings by 40%, and online aggregators have seen a 3x rise in the number of orders for healthy food. Demands for keto food have increased by 23%, and plant-based and vegan food orders have risen by 83%. Bengaluru, Hyderabad, and Mumbai have emerged as the most health-conscious cities in India.  

On-demand food delivery services are on the rise

Food delivery services have been around for a while, but how consumers engage with them has changed rapidly over the past two years.  

COVID-19 changed everything when it comes to online delivery services. A survey conducted by Kantar and NielsenIQ in 2022 found that 77% of consumers regard food and grocery delivery as a way of life rather than as a necessity, as it was during the COVID-19 pandemic, or an indulgence, as it was before it. Consumers are shifting their food journey online, primarily using delivery apps as search engines, and 88% have discovered new food sellers through these apps — many of which are not restaurants but delivery-only outlets.  

Driven by factors such as increased digitalization, the rise of the gig economy, and changes to consumer and family lifestyles, 90% of consumers in Southeast Asia pre-purchased food vouchers and took note of peer reviews on online delivery platforms. Another 90% of consumers prefer brands with an integrated online-to-offline experience.  

The on-demand food delivery industry in India is estimated to be worth $22.5 billion by the end of 2027, expanding at a CAGR of 30%. The increased adoption of the internet and smartphones, the rise in working families, especially the growing participation of women in the workforce, and rapid lifestyle changes are driving the growth of on-demand food delivery platforms. However, the industry also faces challenges such as fake food shops on online platforms, ethical issues around gig economy workers, and their lack of benefits and personal expenses.    

Food bloggers are a driving force

Healthy food choices in Southeast Asia - role of influencers

For example, Erwan Heussaff (@erwan) is based in the Philippines and has over 2 million followers on Instagram. He has been cooking from the age of 8 and worked in multinational food corporations in Russia and the Philippines. His TikTok channel has recently been focusing on low-cost, healthy, and convenient options like this savory oats recipeHeussaff also experiments with other forms when it comes to food vlogs, tapping into ASMR trends like this pancake food ASMR, which received 240k views on TikTok.  

Feedy VN (@feedyvn) is a Vietnamese food vlogger with over 5 million subscribers on YouTube. They share recipe videos, cooking tutorials, food vlogs highlighting the diversity of Vietnamese cuisine, and unboxing and testing lifestyle products.  

In India, brands reach out to celebrity-status influencers to create creative campaigns that appeal to Gen Z and Millennials. For example, food delivery platform Zomato partnered with singer-producer Tesher to integrate the brand in a remix of the Canadian Indian rapper’s 2020 song ‘Jalebi Baby,’ which became a TikTok chartbuster. Remixed with American singer Jason Derulo, the July 2021 digital release of ‘Jalebi Baby’ coincided with Zomato’s blockbuster IPO.  

Value is defined by trust, quality, and taste

When we think about food and value, price is often the first thing to come to mind. But as Southeast Asian consumers become better informed on how to make healthier food choices, they’ve come to prioritize quality, safety, and taste.  

Consumers demand more transparency from brands about their products’ origins, labeling, nutritional value, and mental and long-term health benefits. For example, in India, we have started to see brands expanding their offering to include ingredients like essential minerals in glucose and electrolyte-based drinks, which help consumers to hydrate rapidly.  

Brand trust is crucial for consumers in Southeast Asia, with 84% wanting to trust the brand before making a purchase. As such, brands should be transparent regarding labeling and clearly outline how ingredients impact mental and physical health.  

Brand takeaways

To reach their target audience effectively, brands should establish a robust online presence, including social media platforms such as TikTok, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube. Food influencers have also become strong trendsetters, using their online popularity to drive food trends and engage with audiences. Brands can leverage influencers’ authentic connection with the market by having them advocate for the products. A presence on e-commerce platforms and food delivery apps can also help brands reach a wider audience and convert sales.  

Brands can partner with other brands to reach new audiences, cross-promote products, and foster innovation. To engage with their audience, brands can create touchpoints, such as online contests or mini-games, food festivals, food sampling, and activations. Hosting workshops and building communities can also be effective ways for brands to establish themselves as thought leaders and build strong relationships with their audience.  

Overall, having a healthy lifestyle is a prominent trend across Southeast Asia as consumers become more conscious and seek out healthier food options. By understanding the unique insights and trends in each market, brands can create products and experiences that align with consumers’ values and drive growth in the healthy living sector.

 

To find out more about Southeast Asia’s changing views on food, health, and wellness, please get in touch with our team of experts.

 

Fandom influencer marketing

 

In Southeast Asia, the growing presence of fandoms –  ecosystems of people with deep commitment and loyalty to certain brands or celebrities – is unlocking new opportunities for brands to stay relevant and keep consumer engagement high.  

By tapping into pre-existing fandoms, brands can create deep and meaningful relationships with consumers that are founded on mutual trust and genuine interest rather than focusing solely on wide-scale exposure. These fans are loyal and wholeheartedly willing to support their favorite celebrity influencers and the brands they endorse, as they perceive their support for their favored idols as a contribution to those idols’ success, which results in mutually beneficial relationships for brands, celebrities, and fans alike. 

The power of this raw and authentic connection recently led Vero to launch our influencer marketing stack, InFluent — a combination of products and services designed to help brands in Southeast Asia achieve their business and reputational goals through influencer marketing. Through InFluent, Vero connects brands with influencers who can create meaningful impact for their campaigns by engaging with their followers in an authentic way, ensuring brand messages are delivered to the right audience.

Why influencer fandom marketing works

Being part of a fandom allows people to connect with others who share their interests and to define their social and (sub)cultural identities. This sense of community and belonging is crucial for Gen Z.   

Fandoms also provide a sense of escapism for Gen Z consumers. Daily life can feel overwhelming and stressful due to responsibilities like school or work and pressures from social media and family. Fandoms provide a safe space for Gen Z to be themselves and temporarily forget about the mundanity of real life. 

Additionally, fandoms can be a source of personal growth and self-discovery for this generation. By exploring their passions and interests, they can develop new skills and learn more about themselves and what they want. For example, Gen Z fans of K-Pop artists are starting to learn Korean to understand their idols better and embrace the culture they’re so fond of. Fandoms also like to show their love and support for their heroes by working hard to push their communications to the top — and even turn them into viral trends. Brands can piggyback on this support and use it to their advantage.   

There are several ways to tap into an influencer fandom. For example, brands could host a press event, partner with influencers as brand ambassadors, organize meet-and-greet events, offer exclusive merchandise giveaways, or create a call sign for fans to use. By leveraging these tactics, brands can connect with and engage their target audience more personally and credibly.   

Additionally, brands can play with subcultural insights and tap into the competitive nature of fandoms. For example, K-pop fandoms playfully compete with one another: which group can get the most reach online? Have the most fans in attendance at an event? Or even get their favorite influencer in the headlines (for the right reasons)? Regardless of the goal, brands can harness this competitive spirit to boost engagement and interest.  

Fandom influencer marketing

 

Vero recently worked with Thai mega-influencer Archen ‘Joong’ Aydin, who has 2.1 million followers on Instagram, on a pop-up event campaign for Gucci Beauty and King Power which aimed to build enthusiasm for duty-free shopping. Joong’s throngs of fans attended the event daily, organically creating their own trending hashtag (#GuccibeautyxJoong), which accumulated over 8,800 tweets throughout the event.    

Joong Archen started his career as a model before becoming an actor. His earliest role was as Green in the 2019 Thai TV drama “2Moons2”, which was a hit among young audiences and helped to boost Joong’s popularity and visibility in mainstream media.  

But it’s Joong’s successful social media presence that cemented his brand. He has a large, loyal, and passionate following on social media, which has attracted the attention of businesses and companies and built momentum for his career in the Thai entertainment industry. 

How to nurture brand-fandom relationships

Fans are passionate advocates, and they’re proud of it. They engage with their favorite celebrities and brands on social media, display brand logos, and show off merchandise. A 2022 study by the National Research Group (NRG) found that 54% of fans agree they want everyone to know they are a fan of a product or brand. 

For example, the massive success of The Super Mario Bros. Movie can be attributed to the enthusiasm of the millions of fans of the 40-year-old video game series. Ultra-dedicated fans were even dressing up in costumes and sharing fan art on social media platforms. Thanks to the overwhelming fan response around the world, the movie is getting a sequel soon. 

But this tremendous fervor also means fans don’t shy away from expressing dislike or frustration with brands that don’t meet their expectations. Several global brands have faced boycott calls for supporting or not supporting social causes such as LGBTQ rights and the Black Lives Matter movement. Some brand backlash stems from differences in political and religious stands (or the lack thereof), such as the boycott of Indonesian bread manufacturer PT Nippon Indosari Corpindo in December 2016 by an Islamic group that campaigned for the imprisonment of then-Jakarta governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama. The boycott became a major challenge for the brand as Indonesian consumers increasingly demanded accountability from them.

The Facebook boycott in 2020 by multinational companies and platform users alike over hate speech and misinformation shifted social media users’ attention toward Twitter, YouTube, TikTok, and Reddit, which instituted more significant changes in combatting hate and harassment. 

The power fans hold in determining the fate of brands and products is undeniable. They can elevate visibility and generate buzz, but they can also cause significant damage to reputation. It’s vital for brands to know how to properly nurture relationships with these passionate fan communities. Showing genuine appreciation for the fandom’s support is crucial, so brands should prioritize authenticity, transparency, and active engagement.  

The same report by NRG states that “brands that enable excitement, discovery, expression, connection, and belonging” can convert a customer base from loyalists and followers to die-hard advocates. To gain a fan is to earn a customer’s faith not only in its current products but also its potential, fueling opportunities for successful long-term brand growth and development, the report adds. 

Fandoms provide a unique opportunity for brands to reach new audiences and build long-lasting consumer relationships. By tapping into fandom marketing, companies can generate earned media value, create trending topics across multiple social media platforms, and increase conversions. With the right strategy and approach, businesses can effectively leverage influencer fandoms to create a new army of loyal consumers.