3 Digital Trends to Watch Out for in Asia

Customer service representatives will lose their phones and replace them with social media channels, according to Om Bhatia, assistant vice president digital programs, Asia Pacific, for AIG’s consumer insurance arm. 

The prediction was just one of a number of trends being forecast by a regional panel of digital marketers at ClickZ Live Hong Kong.

1. WeChat

Bhatia thinks that social media will soon overtake all other forms of communication with brands because of the ease and convenience. He names Tencent’s WeChat as the perfect example of a communication platform which has taken customer service to the next level.

“WeChat is so brilliant that you can not only connect with your brand and have a conversation, but you can also make and receive payments from your friends, and buy insurance,” Bhatia said. “It’s somewhere all other chatting applications have to reach. That’s where it’s all going to go: from customer service to actually buying and selling on those platforms.” 

Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts is one brand actively embracing WeChat for its engagement with Chinese customers. In addition to using social media to engage with consumers, the hotel group offers additional services to its guests through WeChat, such as direct connections to hotel concierge staff or check-in by scanning a digital registration card.

According to Widhadh Waheed, director of eBusiness for Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts, social media is particularly important for travel brands. 

“From the first touchpoint to after they have had their experiences at the hotel and leave, people talk about what they enjoyed or what they hated. And we are supposed to respond to everything whether it’s good or bad,” said Waheed. 

2. Mobile: Too Big to Ignore

Mobile-readiness has been a long-forecasted trend, but as Anna Chan, managing director for Amnet Asia, said, this year mobile is really so big it can no longer be ignored.

One un-named luxury brand made the strategic decision to solely focus on developing a mobile strategy as the number one priority for the business. Its digital marketing manager pointed out that the innovation in Asia is much faster than even Facebook.

“The consumer is reaching you, most of the time, through that screen and if you don’t have a respectable [mobile] website, that is really the first thing that is really damaging the brand,” said the luxury brand marketing director.

“Secondly, the Asian consumer is extremely mobile-savvy, so we absolutely focused on the platforms,” he added, naming Line in Japan and WeChat in China. “It’s the delivery that really matters.”

3. Internal Alignment

Seraphina Wong – executive director of global advertising, brand management, Asia Pacific head, UBS – named strategy and consumer insights as her trending predictions. She pointed out that every company has a strategy for business, marketing and communications, but they’re not necessarily aligned. To be able to define the objectives and KPIs of each, Wong recommends getting the strategies agreed on and signed-off on.

She added that while persona-based content had been around for some time, the trend is shifting to “really going deep into humanizing the brand.”

“Really listen enough, not just to go back to creating marketing content, but to actually have the empathy and start caring about what you are selling,” Wong said. “And only when you start doing that can you begin to win hearts, and only then can you start to sustain your marketing in the long-term.”

Homepage image via Shutterstock

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