In Asia, one size does not fit all

Recently we had the pleasure of welcoming Julia Lai, the Managing Director of our Singapore office, to Helsinki. During her week-long stay, she mingled and met with various clients and spoke of the work we’ve done in Asia and discussed the exciting new business prospects in Asia. She also brought up several insights we’ve encountered in our projects in the East.

Seen by many companies as the emerging market, Asia presents limitless scope and potential. China and India already make up over one third of the world’s population – Asia as a whole, over half. However, working in Asia can sometimes be challenging because of the varying cultural characteristics and business practices of each country. Take for example Southeast Asia, often perceived as a whole region, consists of no less than 11 independent countries at varying stages of development. Singapore in particular is a cosmopolitan city-state with an international mindset and a high standard of living, while right across the border in Malaysia, or just further afield in Indonesia, one finds a different level of economic standing with a unique cultural mindset. When doing business in Asia, these factors along with the sophistication level of the local media landscape make for challenging and interesting work.

Many Nordic and European companies have discovered this diversity of the Asian business environment. Language is one important consideration – English is not the national language in many Asian countries. As Asian consumers become increasingly more sophisticated and correspondingly demanding, they now expect highly tailored content in their own language and not just the minimally translated global marketing materials.

Evernote understood this expectation and applied a total localization approach to its note-taking app. The result being they reaped astonishing results for their efforts in the first year of launching the app, reaching four million users in China alone. Evernote’s comprehensive efforts started from inception, from the app’s Chinese brand name to its features. It also integrated the app with popular local services like Weibo and WeChat, through which it offered content to customer services, targeted specifically at Chinese users. Seeking to maintain its smartphone dominance in Southeast Asia, Samsung followed suit by offering localized apps with content and deals tailored to each individual country.

In the culture of instant gratification, consumers are tied to their mobile devices 24/7. According to a study by Tata Communications, 78% of Singaporeans experience negative emotions when they do not have internet access. As such, companies have tapped into this trend by communicating their messages in ways that the era of digitalization has made possible.

In this age of overwhelming consumer choices, companies vying for consumers’ attention and favor need to stand out from the sea of, sometimes, confusing selections. Excellent examples of this include the clever campaigns #BetterTogether by McDonald’s and Coca-Cola in the Philippines and Volkswagen’s Eyes on the Road in Hong Kong. Both campaigns successfully combined the use of the functional and ever-present mobile media with a public service element (presenting the flip side of having your phone glued to your hand).

In addition to in-depth knowledge of the Asian communications environment, Miltton Singapore offers an understanding of the Nordic business and corporate culture. We bring creativity to a traditional market – we offer a whole spectrum of integrated communication services where PR and creative marketing haven’t normally walked hand in hand.

Are you ready to expand your horizons? Take the smart approach by combining the best of both worlds. Our Singapore office would be happy to discuss your opportunities in the Asian markets with you.

Julia Lai
+65 9638 2284

Julia Lai

Julia Lai is the Managing Director of Miltton’s APAC operations. She has a track record of 15 years in the field of marketing and communications. She looks forward to her visits to Helsinki – “even though Finland and Singapore have similar populations, everything else is different – the weather, culture, architecture, urban planning and so much more.”