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How Millennials Are Changing the Face of Marketing in Asia

A new market force – a new marketing challenge

By 2020, 60 per cent of the world’s millennials – aged roughly between 20 to 40 – will live in Asia.  Better educated than their parents, digitally savvy and with growing spending power, they are today’s key audience for marketers.

But Asian millennials present a particular challenge. With access to a wealth of online information, they can circumvent campaigns and slogans, instead using their research skills to check online product reviews and engage with social media influencers before making purchases. In order to reach these audiences, marketers need to find the right platform for delivering relevant and engaging content, while also understanding what motivates them.

The Mobile Medium

Even the best advertising campaign will fail if it is not properly delivered to the target market.  As Asians aged 16-30 spend 2.8 hours per day, or nearly one full day per week, on their mobile phones, the key content delivery platform for Asian millennials is the smartphone.

The greatest phone addicts are Thai millennials, who spend 4.2 hours per day on their phone, while Japanese youths spend only 1.6 hours.  The main uses of this time are social media (46% of time spent on mobile phones) and watching videos (42%), while the remaining 12% (approximately 20 minutes per day) is spent shopping.  Moreover, a growing percentage of millennials use only their mobile phone for all online browsing, so it is no surprise that numerous tech start-ups are sidestepping websites, and developing content and campaigns directly for smartphones.

This contrasts directly with older Asians, who spend only 1.8 hours a day on their phones, but spend more time listening to the radio, watching television and reading newspapers.

This presents a challenge for marketers.  In casting a wide net over these different platforms, marketers may miss out on millennial customers who are glued to their phones.  However, targeting millennials, as the most digitally-connected audience, via smartphone campaigns risks losing other consumers.

Content Counts

Asian millennials are also forcing marketers to think about the message as well as the medium.  Spending so much time online, Asian millennials are constantly hungry for entertaining and interesting content, which they can share on social media.  It is therefore essential that marketers regularly produce engaging content to ensure they stay connected to their customers.  This will mean being more dynamic and agile in order to ensure fresh content is delivered, and not delayed through endless approvals processes.

Importantly, Asian millennials look beyond marketing to consider the whole brand.  These consumers expect a relationship with their preferred brands, preferring companies that do social good, and want companies to be authentic, living up to the image they present.  Companies seen to be saying one thing and doing another, or as out of touch with the millennial generation may find themselves on the end of a Twitter backlash, risking years of patient effort to develop the connection with their customers.

Marketing – and beyond

Asian millennials undoubtedly present a new challenge to marketers, but also a major opportunity.  They are better off, better educated and better able to use a smartphone than older generations, and can be reached via a combination of effective messaging over the right media.

But even the best campaign may not be enough.  Millennials in Asia are smart enough – and have the tools – to investigate the claims a brand makes in its advertising, and can use their voice on social media to embarrass a company that does not live up to its promises.  Accordingly, the clearest way millennials are changing marketing in Asia is that they are not only influencing how brands sell their products, but also the way brands operate.  In order to attract and keep Asian millennial customers, brands will need to think beyond marketing, ensuring that their operations and outlook present a positive image that genuinely connects with the audience.