Are Asian brands out-innovating those in the West?
Well, sure: in plenty of cases. But the comparison is outdated ;)
When it comes to innovation – and delighting consumers – the idea that 'western' brands are still the yardstick against which Asian brands should be measured just doesn't stand up anymore.
Today, Asian consumerism sets its own standards. And that means Asian consumers are now flocking in rising numbers to Asian brands that are catering to their lifestyles and their wants and needs – and doing it with the kind of expertise that only a local brand can bring.
LOCALIZASIAN is a trend we first published in 2013. But we're revisiting it now simply because the accelerating pace of Asian consumerism means it's just as - if not more - relevant than ever!
Want proof? Read on...
57% of Indonesian consumers say they prefer local brands, against 37% who say they prefer foreign brands.Jana, September 2013
One (powerful) example of the 'by Asia, for Asia' phenomenon? Xiaomi.
The Asian tech brand, founded in 2009, outsold Apple in China in Q1 2014.
In Q1 2014, Xiaomi sold 10.4 million smartphones in China against Apple's 9 million, putting Xiaomi ahead for the first time. In fact, Q1 Xiaomi sales were 53% higher than total sales in 2012, as Asian consumers embrace the tech brand's targeted mix of high performance and low prices.
Furthermore, March 2014 saw the first batch of Xiaomi Mi3 smartphones enter Singapore; stocks ran out in two minutes. That followed the launch of the midrange Redmi in Singapore earlier in the year; the first batch sold out in eight minutes.
Tech lust among Asian consumers? Increasingly, it's about local brands.
Three underlying forces are helping to push LOCALIZASIAN forward.
Rising affluence. Local love. Home advantage.
1. RISING AFFLUENCE
Explosive growth in the Asian middle classes means millions more Asian consumers with high expectations.
2. LOCAL LOVE
Asian consumers are increasingly determined to invest in, reimagine and showcase their own localities, traditions and cultures.
3. HOME ADVANTAGE
No one understands Asian consumers quite like Asian brands.
1. RISING AFFLUENCE
Millions more middle class consumers means a virtuous circle of high expectations and targeted innovation.
Across Asia, the middle classes are exploding.
In China, the number of households earning over USD 35,000 in real terms will triple to almost 80 million by 2022 (Ernst & Young, February 2014).
Meanwhile, the number of middle class and affluent consumers (MACs) in Indonesia will double by 2020, to 141 million people (Boston Consulting Group, March 2013).
One consequence? Millions more Asian consumers have money to spend on products and services that truly target their needs and wants. And local brands have more reason than ever to put local consumers – their lifestyles, their desires – first.
2. LOCAL LOVE
The grass ISN'T greener on the other side.
The emergence of Asia as an economic powerhouse means increasing cultural power and confidence, too. No wonder rising numbers of Asian consumers are determined to invest in, reimagine, and even showcase on the world stage, their own localities and traditions.
That doesn't just mean a change in global tastes when it comes to music or fashion. It has impacts across consumerism.
Just one snapshot of those impacts? In Indonesia, 65% of consumers say that supporting local companies is a key advantage of buying local (Jana, September 2013).
3. HOME ADVANTAGE
Local knowledge and cross-border agreements mean local brands are harder than ever to beat.
Let's keep this simple: Asian brands know Asian consumers – their lifestyles, aspirations, needs and wants – better than anyone. One case in point? Just see below how Reserve Bank of India is innovating for consumers who don't have a bank account.
But competitive advantage for local brands doesn't stop at that: there's increasing regional cooperation, too. For example, it's intended that 2015 will see the southeast Asian nations create the ASEAN Economic Community, a single market to allow the free flow of goods and services between the constituent members.
Put the two together, and it's little wonder there's no stopping 'by Asia, for Asia' consumerism!
Take a look at these regional brands innovating to meet the needs, wants and desires of Asian consumers, both inside and across national borders!
Ready made halal foods for Malaysian consumers
April 2014 saw Brunei Halal, a Brunei-based and government-backed brand, venture to Malaysia to cater to the country’s Muslim majority. Brunei Halal helps busy consumers maintain a halal diet by offering 100% halal certified ready-made food and beverage items including sparkling drinks and wine substitutes, curries, microwavable rice, and cooking sauces.
Indonesian temporary tattoo brand caters to local sensibilities
Indonesian consumers are becoming increasingly experimental when it comes to fashion and accessories, but permanent tattoos are still considered a step too far among many. Launched in late 2013, Indonesian brand Potatoo offers premium temporary tattoos that are printed with eco-friendly ink and last three to four days.
Panasonic Cut Out the Darkness
Japanese brand’s social initiative brings solar lanterns to Indonesia
Panasonic's 'Cut Out the Darkness' campaign brought solar lanterns to Sumba Island, Indonesia in March 2014. The campaign aims to bring 100,000 solar lanterns to various regions without electricity by 2018. The lanterns came in 100 different designs, which were chosen from consumers’ most popular online submissions.
Tsunagari Hot Support App
Japanese cellphone service helps family members keep track of elderly relatives
Launched in March 2014, the Tsunagari Hot Support App works with NTT Docomo cell phones and helps Japanese consumers keep track of their elderly family members’ activity. The app is installed on the smartphone of an elderly relative, and then sends data on phone usage, location, steps walked and more to assigned family members.
Chinese Tourists VIP Card
South Korean government initiative offers privileges to Chinese tourists
In February 2014 South Korea's Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced plans to offer special benefits to select Chinese tourists. The benefits include a five-year multiple-entry visa, as well as retail discounts and use of exclusive immigration counters. The card is only available to individuals who can prove purchases of more than USD 30,000 in Korea over a five-year period, or deposits of over USD 47,000 into a local bank account.
Samsung NX Mini
Korean brand rides the Asian 'massfie' trend
Announced in March 2014, Samsung's NX Mini caters to the popularity of group selfies amongst Asians – also known as 'wefies' or 'massfies' – with its wink-shot feature, which allows users to take a photo by winking at the lens. The camera also has a flip-up touch display to help people frame better massfies. A March 2014 report by TIME magazine ranked 'The Selfiest Cities in the World': Makati, in the Philippines, came first.
Remote control device allows individuals to take the perfect selfie
Still on the selfie/massfie trend, the Muku Shuttr is a Bluetooth remote control enabling cellphone and tablet users to take the perfect self-portrait or group photo. Shipping from September 2013 and priced at USD 39, the Hong Kong-designed device is compatible with a range of iOS, LG and Samsung cellphones.
The Selfie Stick and its rise to fame in Indonesia
Still on the selfie/massfie trend: the Tongsis phenomenon. Tongsis is short for Tongkat Narsis – literally 'Narcissism Stick', but better translated as 'Selfie Stick'. It's actually a monopod with a metal clamp at one end that holds a mobile phone, allowing users to take massfies or selfies with a wider angle. A perfect innovation in light of the popularity of spontaneous group photos in Indonesia.
Reserve Bank of India
Indian bank’s system enables the unbanked to withdraw cash
February 2014 saw the Reserve Bank of India announce a service enabling consumers without a bank account to withdraw cash from an ATM. Individuals can request to have money sent to an account, and once payment has been processed, they receive an SMS with a code. Cash can be withdrawn by entering the unique code into any ATM.
Indian government launches local Wikipedia-style site
February 2014 saw the Indian government launch Vikaspedia: a Wikipedia-style site available in five local languages. The information portal features sections dedicated to health, agriculture, education, social welfare, energy and e-governance, with further areas being added gradually. The Indian government aims to make the information portal available in all 22 local languages eventually, providing a comprehensive resource for local citizens.
South Korean mobile game inspired by origami
Available to download from March 2014, Let's Fold is a free mobile game based on the traditional art of origami. This South Korea-developed app allows players to solve, share, and create paper folding games, all based on a single sheet of paper. Users can also help friends complete levels and track individual scores on the Let's Fold leaderboard.