Health experts are still debating whether the world might finally see the light at the end of the Covid-19 tunnel this year, but we’re more confident that this is the year for retail brands in Southeast Asia to ramp up their partnership-building efforts.
Whether it’s the rising costs of search, social and display ads, the removal of third-party cookies or the change in consumer habits to favour brand authenticity, the stars have aligned to make partnerships the most attractive alternative to traditional marketing and sales for growth-minded brands. For popular sports retailer Decathlon Singapore, partnerships drove 50 per cent of new customer acquisition in just eight months, with a quarter-over-quarter (QoQ) revenue growth rate of 156 per cent.
When looking at all the possible partnerships a retailer can form, three specific types stand out for their proven track record in helping retail brands strengthen brand awareness, reach new customer bases and generate rapid revenue growth.
As the saying goes, the world is now the influencer’s oyster. According to a marketing consultancy firm, the Southeast Asian influencer marketing industry was worth $638 million in 2019, with that number projected to quadruple to $2.59 billion by 2024.
In our opinion, much of this forecasted growth will be linked to a paradigm shift in how the value influencers bring to a business is measured. By exchanging vanity metrics such as likes, follows and shares for performance-based ones such as sales, conversions and payout information, brands will be in a much better position to calculate actual return on investment (ROI).
Retailers have also caught onto the benefits of working with micro- and nano-influencers. While their follower counts may be more modest, they often make up for it with higher engagement rates, which drive more conversions. Leading fashion retailer Zalora, for example, launched its Community Influencer Program last year to reach out to this exact demographic.
Like everywhere else in the world, Southeast Asian consumers are becoming increasingly ad-blind, turning instead to listicles, product guides and reviews from trusted content providers.
This is why content partnerships have become a popular and distinct alternative to programmatic advertising. They can consist of product comparison articles, gift guides or reviews, all of which come with affiliate links for brands to track how many new customers a publisher brings in.
By partnering with quality publishers that have amassed loyal followings through their authenticity and relatability, brands can reach consumers at a moment when their product has context. It’s a win-win for all involved. The customer gets a deal on a product or service they’re already looking for, the brand acquires a new customer, while the publisher retains its editorial integrity.
The Indonesian one-stop beauty hub Female Daily, for instance, welcomes sponsorship and advertising enquiries but is predominantly a space where women can read honest, unbiased reviews from both the in-house team and other users.
It’s doubtful that we will ever see a McDonald’s x KFC or Nike x Adidas collaboration. Still, there’s no denying that just about every other kind of brand-to-brand partnership has become a reality in the last few years.
It’s easy enough to see why. Strong brand-to-brand partnerships take advantage of complementary industries, customer needs and audiences to increase sales, customer engagement and consumer awareness for all brands involved.
To get the most out of a brand-to-brand partnership, you’ll need to find the right fit. The ideal partner will not only offer a product or service compatible with your own but also align with your brand’s vision, ethos and values. Trading on a common message of empowering women, fashion retailer Love, Bonito partnered with Mattel to develop an exclusive line of Barbie dolls decked out in the brand’s signature apparel.
Connecting with your customers – whether through advertising, branding or the moment of purchase itself – lies at the heart of the retail business. That’s why partnerships are the natural next step. You connect with partners in order to connect with consumers in new, innovative and engaging ways. Find out how you can get started here.