J. Walter Thompson
ASEAN Consumer and the AEC / J. Walter Thompson Asia Pacific
In 2015, The ASEAN Economic Community, or AEC, will come into effect, creating a single market that encompasses 600 million people across 10 countries. ASEAN consumers are optimistic and feel that it’s ‘our time’. A survey by JWT shows that nearly 60% feel that Southeast Asia is about to peak and is on the precipice of a new era.
The AEC is just two years away. There is a big opportunity for Southeast Asian companies to embrace the ASEAN mantle and create regional brands. Companies with insight to local tastes, cultures and attitudes have the inside track; but they need to work hard to expand their reach, up their quality and build competitive brands if they want to woo the region’s discerning consumers.
JWT, which has offices across Southeast Asia, including Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, Indonesia, Philippines and in Myanmar through our affiliate Mango, conducted an extensive survey of consumers to identify the opportunities and challenges that lay ahead for brands in 2015. We surveyed a total of 2,400 people, aged 20 to 49, in Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, Indonesia, and the Philippines in July using Sonar, JWT’s proprietary global research platform.
The survey found that:
• There’s a sense of excitement and optimism about the impact the AEC will have. While most consumers feel the AEC will bring the most benefit to the larger countries and businesses, 61% do feel it will have a positive impact on themselves personally, and their families.
• Although the region is home to different cultures, religions and levels of affluence, the survey found that people across ASEAN do feel a strong cultural connection. The majority of Indonesians, for example, say ASEAN countries as far away as the Philippines and Thailand are culturally similar. Almost half of respondents also say they ‘strongly identify’ themselves as being “Southeast Asian”.
• Consumers across the region also share many key values. When asked what values unite the region, ‘respect for tradition’, ‘warmth of the people’, ‘family orientation’, ‘respect for the aged’, and ‘love of religion’ all ranked high.
• Consumers have pride in local products made in their own country, provided the quality is there, but have a low perception of products made in ASEAN countries other than their own. Awareness of ASEAN brands is also low.
• Consumers responded well to similar types of advertising, both in content and tone. Humour, story-telling and simple product demonstration had a high degree of resonance, as did ads that showcased how a brand can ‘do good’. Companies can leverage common motivators and themes to create a brand idea that travels across the region, and communications that resonate with consumers across ASEAN.
Please browse the report, “ASEAN Consumers and the AEC”, here - and click here to read the press release summary.
JWT, together with management consulting company A.T.Kearney, also conducted a joint survey of corporate leaders across ASEAN that examines where the AEC sits on their radar. That report concludes that competition is coming, and companies need to create a regional game plan, map out an M&A strategy and start investing more in brand building if they want to win out in the AEC. To read that report, “Countdown to 2015: Creating ASEAN Champions”, please click here.