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Grey Group’s Eye on Asia study unveils 7 consumer shifts shaping digital communications

BestMediaInfo Bureau | Delhi | July 23, 2012

Global integrated marketing communications agency, Grey Group has launched Asia’s first qualitative study on consumer shifts that drive online behavior. Eye on Asia is the group’s annual proprietary study where this year’s focus on digital provides rich insights into human digital behavior - the ‘who, why and what’. The study also explains the ‘how’ by brands to develop stronger engagement with consumers leading to the creation of innovative products and services in seven key industries – beauty, finance, durables, health and nutrition, telecom, snacking and fashion.

While most digital research studies focus on identifying the scale of online behavior, Eye on Asia, in its seventh year, looked into the different activities consumers do online to gain a deeper understanding of the motivations and emotions behind those activities. Research was conducted last year in August across eight key markets in the Asia Pacific region where 160 participants took part in an online engagement survey. Respondents were selected from four consumer categories – teens, young adults, young executives and the established from Australia, China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore and South Korea.

Eye on Asia – Digital revealed seven consumer shifts shaping digital communications today:

1. Introvert Asia to extrovert Asia;

2. Putting Internet behind bars;

3. Karma maximizers;

4. State of hyper kiasu (drive to be the first to know everything);

5. Rise of the mini star;

6. Asians looking for smart cuts; and

7. Opinions become reality


Shift 1 – Introvert Asia to Extrovert Asia

“Daily activities? I love to surf on the net + chatting online, but hate to go out for social outings.” - Teenager, China

Hiding behind the anonymity of the web has given many Netusers a confidence boost they would not otherwise have in normal social situations. They are more comfortable disclosing themselves to online mirrors than facing real life situations. It is a communication platform that allows them to interact on their terms without any social obligations.

“When I'm down I prefer not to talk to anyone in real life but to update my status on Facebook and my friends could message me online instead of chatting on the phone” - Young Executive, Singapore

To reach out and engage an otherwise elusive consumer, brands can set up virtual trial rooms. This would allow for solicitation of unbiased opinions on the latest product or service offerings as well as sniff out latent talents by creating a comfortable environment for the camera shy.

Shift 2 – Putting the Internet Behind Bars

“Remember when Facebook recently changed its terms of service to take further control over our data? We have no choice but to trust these companies with our security and privacy” - Young Executive, India

As people willingly share personal information online, the age of personal privacy is passing. Consumers in this category feel an invasion of their personal privacy and would rather put the Internet ‘behind bars’ to protect their online privacy and against cyber crime. They are functional users of the web who would rather spend more time with family and real life relationships.

“More time with family communication with family and friends in person, I think is something that we are loosing, and we need to hold onto, because our families won’t be around forever.”- Young Adult, Australia

To lower the defenses of this category of consumers, brands can reassure them that personal details divulged online will be kept strictly confidential. Help them realize the ease of online 3

transactions and keep the information as utilitarian as possible. Target the consumers with the right information upfront with the right endorsements.

Shift 3 – Asians are Karma Maximizers

“I can contribute towards making this world a better place, sitting on a chair, from the comfort of my home. It gives me the satisfaction of being able to do my bit, however little it may be” - Established, China

Digital technology has unleashed new philanthropic behaviours: ‘Citizen philanthropy’, ‘micro-philanthropy’, and the ‘democratisation of giving’. A growing trend that sees millions of ordinary people giving money or time together; ‘aggregating’ their giving to achieve greater impact – moving the world for a greater good. The impact of their actions is that faith in humanity is restored by these unknown philanthropists.

“In reality, it’s difficult to donate as I’m not financially well-off, but the Internet provides the chance to make contributions to the society. I can just simply post messages on the bulletin board and it’s done!” - Young Adult, South Korea

Karma maximizers engage with brands that are perceived virtuous. Brands can leverage on their deep rooted belief and make them their beacons of goodwill. Brands can track the causes they support using applications like Klout. Klout rating can be converted to karma credits – an actual online tradable currency.

Shift 4 – In a State of Hyper Kiasu

“Sometimes it’s just a nagging habit to know what’s happening. I was actually reading news on my mobile phone on my last date :P Ha Ha!” – Young Adult, India

Consumers are knowledge seekers who are constantly striving to be the first to know and share the latest information. For them, the internet is a place where information never sleeps and a platform to broadcast themselves. They derive a sense of achievement in being the first to ‘announce’ the newest information. 4

“Well, I think the Internet is metaphorically a gigantic blank book (with efficient bookmarks and infinity pages) and almost everyone can write something in that book for free. So, everyone writes almost everything they know and want to share” - Young Adult, Malaysia

Companies can align themselves with such individuals by fueling their competitive spirit by creating avenues for them to become the first to know, to buy, to win and to preview. Recognize and reward their efforts by offering exclusives and publishing their content as opinion leaders.

Shift 5 – The Rise of the Mini Star

“I like to sing, but when I go to the karaoke, I’m worried that people will think I don’t sing well and laugh at me, so it’s quite vexing. But since I joined the karaoke application in QQ, it has helped me to overcome awkwardness and pressure and I can sing all I want and will not feel embarrassed about it” – Established, China

Talented or not, the Internet is a platform to share their passion with the world. Cyber space is a place to showcase their talent and do whatever it takes to be noticed. They hope to gain recognition at least at a community level.

“I'm more active online now compared to the offline world, with the number of friends in the group, I’m more recognized than before” – Established, Malaysia

Brands need to become the spotlight for consumers. Create a space where consumers can showcase what they have without the risk of harsh critique. For example, brands can develop platforms across industries that allow netizens to pitch their business ideas where they can be brought to life by interested companies.

Shift 6 – Asians are Looking for Smart Cuts

“I regularly use Google Maps,,, and other sites to plan and organize my day.” - Teenager, Australia

Consumers in this category are efficient individuals who use the Internet as a tool to drive efficiency and make confident ‘intelligent’ decisions. They are adopters of new features and 5

applications as the Internet is their ‘savior’ that helps them to optimize resources and save precious time.

“The online mode is also very affordable & easy with less wastage of paper, time & energy” - Young Adult, India

Brands can play a key role by developing easy choice mechanisms that reduce time for decision-making such as an app that tracks all your purchases for the month and prepares a budget for next month and pre-orders the essentials.

Shift 7 – Opinions becoming Reality

I don’t trust newspapers/ magazines/ books/ friends/ salespeople to be incredibly informed about these things, but online you can get lots of people’s opinions and the combination of that many people’s opinions is likely to form an accurate view.” - Young Adult, Singapore

A class of consumers who have more faith in wisdom of the crowds than in certified authorities. Thinkers who make their own opinions based on trust in the power of word of mouth and in the experience of others.

“With online, we can voice out our opinion publicly without asking permission from various parties. If it were to be done offline, it is very difficult even though we are saying that we are country of democracy.” - Established, Indonesia

Brands can create a new rating scale capturing likes and opinions and adding the rating as an additional selling point. Companies in the durable consumer goods category can create social apps to aggregate consumer opinions on what they want products to do for them and product development can be based on that.

“Brands need to focus on how to be social and not how to do social. Consumers are transforming digitally faster than we think. Today, a brand is no longer what we tell the consumer it is – it is what consumers tell each other. Digital is the greatest shift of the ‘now’ generation,” said Nirvik Singh, chairman and ceo, Grey Group Asia Pacific.6

He continued that marketers should focus time and effort on growing online channels to make them more visually and emotionally connected with their audiences. If content is king, context is the emperor.

“Our goal with the launch of Eye on Asia – Digital was to provide richer insights beyond consumer trends to allow for the development of quality communications between brands and consumers. We hope the findings would prove to be valuable to both clients and agencies alike in shaping their digital communications for forging stronger connections with consumers leading to greater product and service innovations and more creative offerings for the consumer,” explained Divyapratap Mehta, VP for planning, Grey Group India.

A proprietary initiative of Grey Group, Eye on Asia examines current consumer issues and aims to get closer to the people of Asia. It seeks to understand what they want and expect from life, by exploring a broad range of topics: the economy, work, family, finance, the environment, value systems as well as their views on brands and marketing.

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