On-the-ground buzz around some of the best consumer innovations in the region.


The only constant in the Asian consumer landscape is … you guessed it – CHANGE.

The Asian consumer landscape continues to evolve, as new patterns are perpetually being shaped and re-shaped. The pace of change can be hard to keep up with, but that is exactly why we are here ;)

Our spotters constantly send in a stream of on-the-ground information, allowing us to construct a dynamic map of the ever-shifting consumer arena, making sure we (and therefore you!) stay on top of the latest happenings.

And this month, you can hear directly from our on-the-ground experts!

This Trend Bulletin brings seven of the best innovations from across the region this year – as highlighted by our spotters. In addition, our spotters also provide specialized and localized insights on how these innovations are fitting into the Asian consumer landscape.

So as you read on, think about the underlying consumer need/desire/attitude behind each innovation, and how you can APPLY this knowledge to create future initiatives that truly value add both for your company and your consumers! :)



Castrol: The Good Road

Indian initiative to start motorbikes only when users put on helmet

The Good Road is an initiative to promote road safety supported by Castrol and the Bangalore Traffic Police, launched in India in April 2014. The campaign has developed a smart motorcycle helmet that connects to a wearer's motorbike, which is fitted with sensors that recognize when the helmet is being worn. Riders put on the helmet to turn on the motorbike, and the engine turns off when the helmet is removed.

Innovation submitted by Soumyajit Banerjee (28) – Planning and Account Manager, Ogilvy & Mather / Kolkata, India

“Motorbike riders typically consider helmets un-stylish, expensive, and too much hassle. This innovation is most relevant for young adults who get motorbikes as presents from their parents. It is difficult for parents to ensure their kids wear helmets, and since parents have the purchasing power, this is a good solution. I think this example highlights that safety awareness is gaining momentum in my region.”

Max Berney (22) – Guest Business Design Associate, Onio Design / India

Water is Life: Drinkable Book

Sanitation manual’s pages double as water filters in China and India

Announced in May 2014, the Drinkable Book is a sanitation manual featuring pages that can also be used as water filters. Developed by global nonprofit Water Is Life, the pages are coated with silver nanoparticles which remove more than 99% of harmful bacteria when water is passed through them. The book’s text provides basic sanitation information, such as reminders to keep trash and feces away from water supplies. Drinkable Book was distributed free by Water Is Life’s teams in Africa, China and India.

“300 million people in China have problems accessing clean drinking water, and until now there has been no sustainable solution. This idea is the first of its kind, and I love it! I think it's very innovative and practical. But there is a need for government and organisations to promote it, otherwise it will just be for the select few. I also hope more independent parties will help develop creative solutions to these social problems!”

Cici Jiang (26) – Design Researcher, ASUS / China

McDonald's Singapore

Smartphone alarm gives consumers breakfast deals

March 2014 saw McDonald's Singapore launch McDonald's Suprise Alarm, a smartphone application that allows consumers to set their alarm clock and gives them a surprise every time the alarm goes off. Surprises include McDonald's breakfast deals such as one-for-one Muffins, fun content and tickets to enter a lucky draw for a Volkswagen Touran TDI. The app is available for free on the Apple App Store and Google Playstore.

Innovation submitted by Andrew Ong (26) – Regional Knowledge Coordinator, Wunderman / Singapore

“Most Singaporeans start the day early, and waking up is often a chore; we snooze our alarms multiple times and we can get very grouchy. McDonald's Surprise Alarm app helps to make waking up a little easier, happier, and less of something to dread. This app truly represents marketing as a service, where marketing is effectively integrated into a consumer's life as a service (alarm clock) and provides tangible benefits (surprise rewards).”

Andrew Ong (26) – Regional Knowledge Coordinator, Wunderman / Singapore

Globe Telecom

Online platform allows Filipinos to fight text spam

Globe Telecom, a major telecommunications service provider in the Philippines, launched Globe Telecom Anti-Spam Campaign earlier this year to allow consumers to actively fight text spams. It involves a web platform where consumers can report text spam and scams. Reported sources of spam/scams are given warnings, and persistent ones deactivated from the service.

Innovation submitted by Jennifer Jimenez (22) – Product Designer, Globe Telecoms / The Philippines

“Filipinos have a very strong affinity to mobile phones, and our country has been dubbed the SMS capital of the world. Text spams are a big nuisance, and I find this innovation very interesting as users are not only educated, but can also join in the initiative to combat spam. Users are generally highly receptive of campaigns that not only inform but also encourage positive action.”

Jennifer Jimenez (22) – Product Designer, Globe Telecoms / The Philippines

LG Electronics

Messaging service allows the control of domestic appliances via SMS in South Korea

Rolled out in May 2014 in South Korea, the LG HomeChat service from the South Korean electronics firm, allows owners to communicate with their domestic appliances by SMS. Users are able to send commands and receive status updates from a range of LG’s smart products including refrigerators, vacuum cleaners, washers, dryers and ovens.

“In Korea, home networking and mobile friendliness are very big trends. I think this is the first innovation that successfully integrates the two in a way that's very easy for the average consumer to use. It also appeals to me as a working married woman. In Korea we stock up on groceries on the weekend, but then during the week I forget what I have. Having my fridge manage this for me is very helpful!”

Sso Hahn – Deputy Business Marketing Manager / South Korea

Whisper: Touch The Pickle

Feminine hygiene campaign rewards Indian women challenging taboos

June 2014 saw feminine hygiene brand Whisper launch the #TouchThePickle campaign across India. Designed to address taboos around menstruation, the campaign – which included a TV ad and Facebook app – encouraged women to speak out against societal norms. Participants who shared stories and made pledges were rewarded with points that could be converted into shopping and spa vouchers. The name of the campaign derived from a local superstition: menstruating women are discouraged from touching pickle jars because it is said they will contaminate them.

Innovation submitted by Aunkita Dey (31) – Strategic Planner, DDB Mudra / India

“The issue of women and menstruation has always been a sensitive one in India. Buying sanitary napkins used to be a furtive issue, with shopkeepers wrapping the purchase in newspapers to make it inconspicuous. Recently, with economic growth and more women entering the workforce, attitudes are changing, especially in urban areas. With the wide reach of television, campaigns like this can bring change to the smaller towns.”

S Rajendran (55) – Chief Marketing Officer, Acer / India

Coca-Cola: 2nd Lives

Campaign launches in Vietnam with special caps to transform plastic bottles into useful objects

Launched in March 2014, Coca-Cola's 2nd Lives campaign is designed to encourage the reuse of its plastic bottles. The company created a line of 16 different caps which allow used bottles to be transformed into new objects such as a squirt gun, paint brush, pencil sharpener or soap dispenser. Coca-Cola pledged to hand out 40,000 caps across Vietnam, before launching the program in Thailand and Indonesia.

“I like this innovation for how it combines practicality with fun and creativity. It definitely helps promote eco-friendliness in the region by tapping on the fun element, as consumers here are still in the early stage of adopting eco-friendly lifestyles. Therefore brands are engaging in environmentally-friendly initiatives through fun-infused elements that educate and motivate consumers at the same time.”

Tammy Fransli (25) – Marketing Management Trainee, Unilever / Vietnam



Over to you!

Our featured innovations and spotter insights have given you a feel of the Asian consumer landscape, and how diverse it is. So now – get innovating! Take these examples and insights as the lauchpad for a discussion with your team. How can you adapt what you've seen to serve your consumers or clients?


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