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Traditionally, the west, led by the US and the UK (Europe), has always been ahead of the east in creating new digital opportunities. It has consistently commanded innovations in the digital domain. However, in the past few years, the Southeast Asian region has undergone a tremendous digital revolution within a short time span. This is evident from the fact that Asia has now become the ‘biggest Business-to-Consumer (B2C) market,’ surpassing the usual leading western players, the US and Europe.
Southeast Asia’s massive digital engagement and growth can be attributed to a plethora of factors such as E-Commerce, Affiliate Marketing, online transactions (widespread adoption of Digital Wallets), Digital Campaigning and so on. Below are listed the key factors that have contributed towards the digital revolution in this region-
The ASEAN nations- Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam, together constitute more population than the entire European Union and it nearly doubles the US population. Post the inception of the global pandemic, there has been a massive surge in online shopping, and the number of internet users per hour has doubled since then in the Southeast Asian region.
Several E-commerce platforms in the Southeast Asian region, such as Alibaba, Shopee and Lazada have already successfully connected millions of customers at low cost. Besides these regional giants, several local e-commerce platforms have emerged. For instance, in Singapore, consumers can shop wine online through Deliveroo, and everyday household items from RedMart. Similarly, Indonesia’s GO-JEK provides 18 different essential services. The success of these E-Commerce platforms can be attributed to the adaption of smarter technologies involving the use of AI, Anti-Fraud tools and a special emphasis on enhancing their UX and UI.
Affiliate Marketing, which operates on a performance-based model, has emerged as one of the highest revenue-generating digital marketing models for several brands in Southeast Asia. For instance, the popular Malaysian female fashion Brand- Love, Bonito, has increased its new orders by 20% and has seen a 253% quarter-on-quarter revenue growth after launching its affiliate partnership programme in 2020. The growth strategy of the company was based on its partnership with several other brands, content creators and influencers, at the international level.
In Southeast Asia, around 90% of consumers use a mobile phone to connect to the internet. They lead the world in mobile-first internet connectivity. This is due to easy access to affordable and reliable mobile telecom services in this region. Mobile marketing, hence, is extremely profitable for the retailers in the Southeast Asian region as people (consumers) completely rely on mobile phones for their day-to-day activities from banking to shopping, entertainment, education, travel planning and much more. In 2019, there were 71% of all online retail sales in Thailand through mobile marketing, 54% in Singapore and 58% in Malaysia.
Throughout the year, on several key occasions, digital retailers and the e-commerce platforms in Southeast Asia, such as Lazada and Shopee, earn massive profits due to successful digital marketing campaigns. For instance, digital campaigns around Black Friday and Chinese New Year dates are extremely profitable for SEA. According to Criteo, in 2020 alone, there were an estimated 800 shoppers who participated in the Black Friday global sales from all around the world.
In conclusion, Southeast Asia’s digital experience demonstrates the huge scope for digital marketing through Affiliate (Performance and Partner based) marketing, Mobile Marketing, E-Commerce, Digital Campaigns etc. At the same time, there is also a lot of scope for building a stronger Southeast Asian digital economy by regulating the expensive and unpredictable SEA logistics. The government should lead by example by first becoming more tech-savvy and digitally aware themselves. It should step in to promote the crucial digital skills. Last but not the least, cyber security, data privacy and consumer protection should be made a priority. Trust and transparency between the consumer and the marketer are essential for the growing participation of the people in the SEA digital economy.