Asian mobile’s next wave – Marketers need to stay ahead of social commerce

Crowds of commuters work on their smartphone or tablet, browsing popular social media sites, shopping for products online and streaming music or video services straight to their devices. Mobile apps are now ubiquitous in daily life.

CA Technologies recently published its APJ Application Economy Index 2016, studying the current and future strength of app economies across 10 Asian markets. The study, carried out by consulting firm TRPC, found that even if individual businesses embrace e-commerce and take a proactive approach to evolve and grow within the market, competition across the region over the next year will need to be fierce.

Those looking to ride the wave of new e-commerce opportunities will undoubtedly be focusing on the monetisation of their social commerce platforms. Alibaba’s $200 million investment in Snapchat in 2015 was a smart business decision to both broaden the Chinese company’s reach across the globe and monopolise the potential of existing social commerce strategies. Rival Tencent has focused efforts on WeChat’s own mobile payments business, WeChat Pay. If there was any doubt of the platform’s success, Tencent recently announced that their user base has increased to 697 million per month, representing a year-over-year growth rate of 39 percent.

The impact of social commerce success is far-reaching, and there’s a growing demand for innovative solutions to connect consumers with services they never knew they needed. While leading tech giants Twitter, Facebook, Google and Instagram are at varying stages of Buy button integration for ads and branded pages, many lesser-known startups are focusing on the connection of customers with valuable services in their local area, from grocery deliveries to beauty appointments. This market is expanding as well as diversifying, with more traditional marketplace apps like Carousell and Kleora targeting specific demographics across Southeast Asia.

The spread of influence is growing exponentially each year, with consumers across Southeast Asia demonstrating varying online habits. For example, daily smartphone usage in Indonesia is higher on average than usage in Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand. As of January 2016, three of the five most popular mobile apps in Indonesia were messaging services. LINE (the free call and messaging app from South Korea) have not wasted time in capitalising on this monopoly over the market, offering everything from taxi services to food delivery through their mobile app.

Ericsson ConsumerLab reported the untapped potential of mobile commerce in emerging APAC as far back as 2014, and the development of the market in Indonesia and Malaysia has led to predictions of a boom over the coming months. Here are our top three recommendations as to how smart marketers can make the most of it:

  • Hyper precise marketing: For marketers, the challenge and the opportunity of social and mobile commerce is to appear in the right channel, on the right platform and in the right feed to the right person, with the right product, all at the right time. Marketers need to be able to predict what each customer is going to find interesting, then target these predictions at them. With Big Data, we can now create really small segments of customers, and discover what matters to them.
  • Local targeting; The marketing opportunity offered by mobile is full of potential due to the simple fact that it’s such an intimately personal device. Many mobile users remain glued to their device all day and check it over 100 times from morning to night. Furthermore, they are searching for services or products near them, and 70 percent are happy to share their location information to get something valuable in return, like locally targeted offers.
  • Investment in creative and visual content: Instagram opening its platform up to brands of all shapes and sizes is yet another sign that visual content is hugely important to mobile consumers. People are expressing themselves in visual ways through a mixture of photos, video, stickers and emojis, and brands need to quickly up their creative game with eyes firmly focused on upcoming social commerce. Some brands, like Australian retail brand Myer, are already investing in a photo shoot to create a suite of custom-fit imagery for a particular platform.

To sum up, connecting users with products and services through their mobile devices is intrinsically linked with a consumer culture of engagement, convenience and immediacy. And with no end in sight to the continuing growth of mobile and social, the challenge for marketers is not merely to keep up, but to keep ahead of the curve.


Henry AdamsAsian mobile’s next wave – Marketers need to stay ahead of social commerce