Marketers in other parts of the world will learn a lot by watching Asia Pacific, writes Mark Henning, head of media and digital, AMAP region, at Millward Brown.
More than half of the world’s smartphone users will be located in the Asia Pacific region by the end of 2016, according to eMarketer – and this share is expected to rise further over the coming years.
Given that in much of Asia Pacific (APAC) ‘digital marketing’ equals ‘mobile marketing’, a strong culture of mobile innovation has emerged. It is little wonder that the eyes of marketers in other regions are starting to turn to Asia to see what can be learned about inspiring consumers to interact and engage with their brand.
Millward Brown’s AdReaction Video study showed how important it is to take a strategic approach to mobile. Despite the rapid growth in content consumption on smartphones, consumers are less receptive to advertising messages that are delivered on their mobile devices than via TV and online. Mobile advertising isn’t simply a matter of broadcasting a brand message using the ‘traditional’ advertising model.
Marketers need to begin creative development with mobile in mind. Asia has led the way in this area since before smartphones even existed.
Mobile innovation – even without smartphones
Mobile innovation in APAC is nothing new. As early as 2013/14, Unilever created a successful ‘free call back’ entertainment channel in rural India catering to the high number of feature phone users. This provided significant reach in markets where TV penetration was just 20%. The approach succeeded because consumers valued the entertainment provided, giving Unilever ‘permission’ to operate in the mobile environment – while at the same time eliminating barriers such as cost of the calls.
Colgate’s recent ‘Spreading a Million Smiles with Mobile’ campaign in India also used this call back approach to raise awareness of oral hygiene, and offer free dental check-ups – providing both a useful community service and relevant positioning for their brand. This was an excellent example of a brand using mobile to deepen the personal relationship with its audience – again providing something of value to the consumer in return for receipt of the marketing message.
Make the consumer part of the medium
Marketers in APAC have also successfully tapped into the social interactivity and co-creation trend inspired by mobile connectivity. PT Unilever’s ice cream campaign Walls encouraged consumers in Indonesia to reconnect with their smiles by sharing photos of special moments via Facebook. ‘Smile Detector’ technology then aggregated the consumer created content and developed the ‘Smile Video’ collage to extend the life of the campaign.
We all know the power of recommendation – and what better way to harness it than by inspiring consumers to interact with each other while including your brand in the conversation. In the mobile space this is second nature to the consumer; the challenge lies in finding a legitimate role for your brand.
Be ready to harness the current trend
Today’s ‘always on’ culture requires all marketers to stay current and be ready to take advantage of what’s happening at any point in time. This can help drive relevance and engagement with the brand. Oreo’s quick thinking ‘You Can Still Dunk in the Dark’ Super Bowl execution was a great example of this, but it doesn’t always have to be so instantaneous.
In China, Nike collaborated with AQI PM2.5, the country’s most popular app for checking daily pollution levels. Nike recognised that consumers had health concerns about exercising outside during periods of high pollution so it integrated targeted messages on how and when people could exercise safely. When pollution was low, Nike recommended getting outside and exercising. When pollution was high, it recommended exercising at the local gym. The messages were delivered in real time and based on current local conditions through location based targeting.
This brand integration provided additional relevance to Nike’s consumers in a unique environment, enhancing its overall positioning.
Use technology to enhance the brand experience
The digital world never stands still, and marketers in APAC have been quick to identify and embrace new technologies that provide opportunities for innovation, interaction and brand engagement. In Vietnam, dairy brand Dutch Lady created an augmented reality experience with The Flying Farm app to supplement its regular on pack promotion and collectible strategy. This enabled kids to interact with its collectibles in a customised environment, differentiating Dutch Lady’s approach from the competition.
However, marketers shouldn’t just jump at everything that’s shiny and new; it’s important that the use of the technology fits with the brand and is valued by the consumer; otherwise, it becomes nothing more than an expensive toy.
What does the future hold?
The rapid pace of change makes it difficult to predict the future of mobile marketing – look at the recent viral rise of PokemonGo, which I’m sure will fuel a new direction of augmented reality applications and games.
As with the examples I’ve shared in this blog, it’s likely to be APAC brands that most swiftly and successfully apply AR to grow their value, and their strategies will help to shape the future of mobile marketing globally. Marketers in other parts of the world will learn a lot if they watch Asia Pacific closely.