When it comes to the Asia-Pacific market, three in five marketing professionals regard social media as more important due to economic uncertainties, according to a recent State of Social Report from software firm Meltwater. On average, 34 per cent of those surveyed said their total marketing budget will be invested in social media, with as many as 77 per cent of respondents planning to increase or maintain their current level of spend. “One of the key takeaways from the report was that consume
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onsumers are looking for quality content online, and retailers need to look into communicating stories in a better way to get more eyeballs,” Mimrah Mahmood, senior director and partner at Meltwater Asia-Pacific, told Inside Retail.
Instagram leads the way
Contrary to popular belief, Mahmood noted that Instagram is still where most consumers go to search for brands, followed by Facebook. Despite the constant media coverage, TikTok is not yet the biggest channel when it comes to brand discovery in APAC.
“What was quite surprising to us was that consumers in APAC are using Instagram more than Google to search for products. This is the first time we are seeing at least 40 per cent of consumers using social media for discovery and to start the search process,” he noted.
Mahmood also said that consumers are spending at least 40 more minutes per day on social media, compared to traditional media, such as television. This is something that retailers need to take into account, he said.
“It’s becoming more important for retailers to engage with consumers. The other thing to take note is that a third of men in the age group of 55 to 65, actually do searches on social media. So retailers need to realise that social media is not only for the young,” he said.
Interestingly, the company’s research has shown that younger consumers like to discover brands and products through a journey, and the experience counts. They start from an experience point of view, and if a brand pops up that resonates with them, then they are all in.
“It’s important for brands to understand the concept of brand recognition, and being top of mind. Younger audiences follow certain hashtags, certain lifestyles and communities that resonate with them. Then, they discover brands, almost accidentally,” he stated.
In the age of superapps, digital wallets and mobile payments have now become the default in the APAC region, relegating credit card payments to the third tier. Mahmood feels that social media giants will be looking to accelerate this trend.
“Rakuten is a good example of this in Japan, where they can heavily monetise their user group by moving everyone into a singular ecosystem. The whole idea is to have a customer in a fully self-contained ecosystem so they can choose services to pay for,” he explained.
When it comes to e-commerce, there has been an increase of 7.3 per cent year-on-year in online grocery shopping in APAC. Forty-five per cent of Hong Kongers are doing their grocery shopping online, and 28 per cent of Singaporeans are doing theirs online too.
“The 7.3 per cent y-o-y increase in wallet spend is quite unbelievable, and I would say retailers should embrace social media in terms of increasing consumers’ wallet spend as long as they wrap their campaigns around them in a holistic manner,” Mahmood said.
The cookieless world
For those who have not kept up with the ‘cookieless’ future, Google announced last year that it will stop supporting third-party cookies on its Chrome browser by the end of 2024, a decision that is expected to have implications for most websites and marketing campaigns.
“Eighty per cent of organisations still rely on cookies for data analytics. So, the deadline is coming, and retailers need to prepare themselves for the shift that is coming. The answer lies in the rich amount of data available through social media,” Mahmood opined.
He explained that the amount of metadata available makes it imperative for retailers to upskill their marketing teams to understand the new dimensions of data that are available. According to Mahmood, social media datasets hold immense potential for marketers.
“Be it from LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram or TikTok, the amount of psychographic dimensions can give insights into consumers’ purchasing habits and digital communities. Marketers can really take advantage of these datasets for their operations,” he noted.
Mahmood also observed that brands should use more micro-influencers to promote brand advocacy in the APAC region. He feels it’s better to build an ‘advocacy funnel’ which focuses more on customer retention.