The Rising Face of Asian Brands

Apr 12 2013

With a growth in importance of Asian markets, the trend watchers have been setting up in Asia, and it‚Äôs good to see a greater emphasis on innovation in this part of the world.‚Äôs recent report on the trend for ‘Localizasian‚Äô is one example of this (they now have an office in Singapore).

The report points to the increasing expectations of Asian consumers and increasing quality of Asian made products and how this is driving the desire for customised products made by regional and local brands. Trendwatching predict that there will be an increasing demand for better and better products that get it ‘just right‚Äô for Asian consumers, an increasing receptiveness by them to world class Asian brands and growing affinity for regional needs and wants from Asian brands. The end result will be a boom in products ‘made in Asia, for Asia, by Asia‚Äô. Although this trend reflects economic and political development in the region, it also reflects cultural shifts and changing consumer perceptions.

Of course, Asia is not one region, and reflects a diversity of cultures and lifestyles as well as wealth, sophistication and expectations (far greater than the regional differences seen in Europe for example).

Trendwatching point to three key drivers of the trend. Firstly, many markets in Asia are now relatively mature, with rising numbers of affluent consumers across the majority of Asian countries. For example, Asia represented 14% of global consumer spending in 2011, but is predicted to reach 25% by 2020 and 40% by 2030. This represents an emerging power and leverage, which is driving an increasing awareness of the region’s importance and a growing pride in many local markets. This is inevitably making local consumers more demanding of best-in-class products customised for their needs.

The second driver is an increasing faith and hope in the success of the region, lifting the perceived value of Asian brands to consumers who are welcoming them with open arms across the region. Interesting, while trade between Asia and the rest of the world has doubled since 2000, trade within the Asian region has tripled. The ‘Korean wave‚Äô is only one example of this thirst for Asian culture among Asians - the Korean wave is strongest in Thailand among Asian markets. ¬†Asians are increasingly loving the cultural and commercial exports of other Asian countries above those of the West.

Thirdly, Asian brands have the ‘home advantage‚Äô of understanding local needs and wants, with an understanding of the mindset of consumers that Western brands simply do not have. The report cites a great example of cultural insight, where Tsingtao adapted their beer packaging to make it appealing to traditional Chinese drinking practices of sharing small cups of baiju communally from a big bottle.

I remember myself working with a spirits brand in Thailand who learnt that individually bottled mixed drinks did not work in the context of a local culture where sharing is the norm, even in nightclubs. Another great example in the report is from LG Electronics who have adapted 27 products for the Indian market, including microwaves with pre-settings for Indian traditional dishes (leading to them being voted the most trusted brand in their category in India).

How to take advantage of these trends? Tailoring products and services for local populations and sub-groups is key, along with integrating product design with established local traditions, practices and rituals and adapting designs to cater for local tastes (and local languages as HTC have done in Myanmar).

This is a great time to be an Asian brand, especially if you understand the needs of Asian consumers and can bring them first class products and experiences which truly meet their needs.

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