The Asia Pacific region contains many of the fastest-growing and lucrative business markets, especially for technology companies.
Why? Advancements like 5G, robotics, AI, and mobile technology infrastructure give it an edge. Many APAC countries are still developing rapidly and offer an entrepreneurial mindset; the region has leapfrogged Western technology cycles and is racing head of other markets.
Home to giants like ByteDance (TikTok’s parent company), Alibaba, Tencent, Flipkart and fueled by Amazon’s recent $1bn investment in India — APAC has long been a melting pot of digital technology innovation. For ad tech in particular, it’s a juggernaut, contributing 42% of the increase in global ad spending growth in 2019.
The APAC tech boom has created immense opportunities for PR programs in the region, as well as many challenges. Major PR firms have long noticed the business potential; global agencies have strengthened their footprint through acquisition over the past decade, and independent firms have expanded and built alliances there. However, brands looking to enter the market with PR and digital content campaigns must have a command of the complexities inherent among APAC countries.
At Crenshaw Communications, we work across a broad portfolio of tech clients to develop and execute successful PR campaigns. For someone looking to launch a successful tech PR program in APAC, here are a few things to consider at the start.
It’s easy to underestimate the sheer scale and diversity behind the acronym. It comprises over 40 countries, home to over 4.46 billion people, who speak a staggering 2,300 languages. Each region is characterized by its own history and distinct culture. Some Asian markets, particularly mature ones like China and Singapore, have formal, hierarchical structures and business communication, requiring a long-term commitment to building relationships and alliances. Others, like Australia, are more casual and freewheeling and feature wide-open markets in most cases. Even attitudes toward work vary. In Singapore and India, starting work late and working overtime is considered ‘normal’, whereas in Australia it’s all about starting your day early and leaving work on time.
Beyond culture and language, technology trends are distinct in many APAC countries. For example, India’s digital ecosystem is rapidly evolving, with high mobile-phone penetration and increasingly connected devices. Vietnam is leading the region with the fastest growth in mobile payments, while Singapore is both driving global innovation and acting as a hub for the startup economy. Before launching a campaign, brands and marketers should understand the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead, and approach each market differently.
Another key aspect is to consider the time difference between different countries. Within APAC, there are 11 different time zones and it’s critical to factor in that when planning and implementing any PR programs across the region.
Because English is spoken in many APAC countries, some assume that regional languages don’t matter. But ignoring regional content can mean a large opportunity cost. There are roughly 22 official languages spoken across India and more than 10 in Southeast Asia. What’s more, many Indian consumers are more comfortable reading product information in their regional language. Yet Indian-language content on the web is limited. According to a Google/KPMG report, 60% of Indian internet users claim that limited Indian language content is a barrier to adoption of digital services like news and online payment.
Smart marketers also play upon regional differences and perception. When Spotify went hyperlocal last year with its debut campaign in India, it was able to reflect local culture, moods and social moments. This resulted in huge success. A successful PR campaign must account for local customer insights and nuances and communicators may want to look at hyper-localization strategies.
Digital advertising spend in regional media is set to grow from $300 million in 2018 to $3 billion by 2023. As in the U.S. the customer journey has become more complicated with the fragmentation of media and proliferation of devices. In India, which features a rich variety of vernacular languages, marketers and brands must constantly innovate to know their audience, build insights to create content in the right context and connect with consumers.
Media groups are looking for growth opportunities in regional markets as the demand for regional content is soaring. Netflix — which has more than 2 million subscribers in India — will spend $400 million on Indian content for 2019 and 2020. We recommend that PR campaigns have a local spokesperson with a thorough understanding of the regional issues and socio-economic differences to navigate the evolving media landscape and connect with the media at a local level.
In the Asia-Pacific region, social media is a powerful force and plays a vital role in consumers’ purchasing habits and decisions. According to a 2018 study of PR and communications trends in APAC, digital and social channel growth is at par with or even ahead of the West. Mobile communications was rated as more important than any “traditional” forms. When asked about the importance of different media channels over the next three years, 94 per cent of Asia–Pacific practitioners said social media and social networks were most important, compared to 78.7 percent who rated print media as important and 54.6 percent who said television would rank highly in 2020.
With increasing internet penetration, better data infrastructure, and an estimated 190M active Tik Tok users in the Southeast Asia region, social media and video consumption are unstoppable. It’s not surprising that the region’s share of global spend will reach 35% in 2023, with massive growth coming from China.
While social media giants like Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Twitter are popular in some APAC countries, native platforms continue to dominate. WeChat in China, LINE in Japan and WhatsApp in India are key native platforms. Furthermore, the growth of social influencers is transforming the landscape. Any PR or communications campaign in APAC will need to prioritize native platforms.
Because it will shape the future of digital innovation globally, APAC is THE market to watch. To capitalize on the fast digital growth, brands should consider the above factors and develop country-specific PR programs for high-impact, tech-savvy PR programs.