As of 2022, the average person spends more than 40% of their waking life using the Internet.
Their engagement with digital platforms (approx. 7-hours a day) and online services means users are insisting that brands have a stance on the issues they hold close to their hearts.
As consumers become more socially, sustainably and ethically conscious, they want the brands that represent them to do more, be better, and positively affect the world they live in.
We sat down with our strategy, PR, digital, and social media experts to dive deeply into the uniquely complex and fast-paced changing world of digital trends in ASEAN. We explore how brands can plan for engaging experiences when a lot of content feels algorithmic, the digital innovations that can boost creative brand relevance within campaigns, and finally, how society and culture are changing and what brands can do to earn an authentic place in the conversation.
Integrated Brand Experiences with Heart
As the recession looms and cost-of-living pressures increase, brand experiences will need to be more integrated across all aspects of business and more sophisticated. What matters will be authenticity and shared stories where brand values and mission are aligned.
Doan Khanh, Associate IMC Account Manager, says, ‘businesses should innovate across all touchpoints of the entire customer journey to build trust and create immersive multi-sensory experiences, offline or online.”
Our team notes that YouTube live streams or collaborations with Netflix in the Philippines have become the norm for big media networks. “This is paving the way for a more digitally skewed landscape in terms of communications, and we may see consumers looking for more intimacy and personalization,” says Rae Cay, Digital Account Manager, the Philippines.
This need for brands to develop integrated brand experiences allows an opportunity for sophisticated adventures into the digital world. Enter the Metaverse.
The Metaverse – a New Avenue for Brand Creativity
The Metaverse garnered a lot of hype in 2022, but in terms of customer engagement, we’re still at the beginning of the journey in Southeast Asia. We foresee considerable growth in this area for 2023, with brands wanting to explore NFTs, Roblox universes, the Metaverse, and more.
In the Philippines, despite a slow start, we are now seeing an increase in campaigns and content across the Metaverse. For example, in 2022, the first augmented reality 3D billboard was launched in Metro Manila by the banking app Maya, to life.
In Malaysia, Tiger Beer experimented with its first-ever Metaverse campaign: Tiger beer x Street Food. Audiences could build avatars via the website and explore different cultural street food via Tiger Beer’s Metaverse world. And if you were within 15km of the street food vendor in real life, you could order the food to your home.
Doing What’s Right
Understandably consumers are concerned about sustainability. As Nations struggle to meet net zero targets, consumers feel a responsibility to act through their buying.
“A brand that can transparently and creatively demonstrate its commitment to sustainability will win the trust of its audience. For brands in Southeast Asia, this means highlighting transparency in social impact initiatives. But consumers are also quick to lose trust in brands that do not follow through on their sustainability pledges,” says Mra Thitsa Than, Strategy Director, Vero. For example, an American fashion house was accused of deliberately slashing unsold bags and throwing them into the trash instead of restoring or selling them, despite claiming to be a sustainable brand. This issue went viral on TikTok, highlighted by influencers who call for fashion to be more sustainable.
“Audiences know that we’re reaching a point of no return when it comes to our climate, and so they want to support sustainable brands who practice what they preach,” comments Bianca Balderas, PR Account Manager, Vero, Philippines.
But in Indonesia, we’re seeing a slight deviation in this trend. Ahmad Sofyan, Digital Social Media Manager Vero, Indonesia, notes, “while consumers care about sustainability, they are more concerned about economic or political issues, and they are not prepared to stay quiet about this.” 2022 saw Indonesian netizens making their voices heard, and we expect to see much more of this next year.
Breaking Beauty Taboos
Alongside sustainability, customers are also influencing how brands stand for body diversity. Consumers have lost interest in adhering to society’s impossible beauty standards and are embracing their natural shapes.
Well-known Thai cosmetic brand, Mistine, launched a campaign to reach a new audience: Gen Z and Millennials. From research, they understood that they were prominent in Thailand but not among this group. They launched a campaign that challenged the industry’s traditional ideas of beauty and advertising norms. Working with members of the public, their updated ad campaign, I’m Perfectly Fine (ฉันมั่นหน้า), ran with a message of acceptance. Working with regular people instead of a celebrity, they connected with women across Thailand. The campaign’s subversive nature sent it viral, with audiences surprised by the brand’s progressive values.
“Brands across industries should look to break down beauty standards across industries. Consumers want to see a version of themselves in the brands they love. Brands around the world continue to push us in the right direction. And while Asian brands are making progress, they still have a long journey ahead to move away from stereotyped Asian beauty ideals,” adds Pak Krairiksh, Senior Strategy Manager, Thailand.