Are you marketing to millennials in Asia? If so, you may have noticed some cultural differences between the East and the West. For example, familial relationships in Asia affect an individual’s buying decisions far more than peer pressure does. This and other quirks can be puzzling for businesses entering emerging Asian markets.
As someone who has lived in Asia for over a decade and advised some of the largest brands on content marketing, I’ve made some observations that can help your business woo millennials.
I’ve also picked the brains of content marketers including Brian Sutter, Director of Marketing at Wasp Barcode Technologies and Patricia Mulles, former Regional Content & Services Marketing at Samsung Electronics Asia.
Here’s our 2017 content marketing guide for wooing Asian millennials.
Content marketing works well in Asia. Very well.
It works so well, in fact, that content marketing was ranked by HubSpot as the marketing activity with the most commercial impact on a business.
To your advantage, 70% of the subjects who participated in this study report that they feel like their content marketing efforts are “limited, basic, or inconsistent.” That’s because half of them don’t have a content marketing strategy.
Still, never underestimate the competition. Here are your competitors’ content marketing plans:
- 60% of content marketers aim to produce more content than they did the previous year
- 48% said they plan to increase paid social distribution
- 27% plan to hire more in-house marketers
- 23% plan to increase their agency outsourcing
This shows that using content marketing in Asia Pacific is already working and this trend is growing further at 5-10% per year.
So what’s the best way to win millennials’ attention and loyalty? Here are a few ways using content marketing:
1. Opt for content marketing over advertising.
Move over, Mad Men. The glory days of advertising are long gone and the strategy of using content is getting better audience attention. In a study by Forbes and IPG Media Lab, branded content was two times more memorable than display ads. Its effect appears to be growing too: in 2013, branded content was only 1.6 times as effective as display ads in aided ad recall. By 2016 it has jumped to 2.4 times as effective.
Over decades, Asian consumers – like consumers everywhere, have learned to pay less attention to advertising. Their constant bombardment by ads has subconsciously taught them to ignore most ads.
Megan Leung, freelance business writer and editor, says that “advertising messages in the 90s and 2000s were very similar, with pretty much every product being ‘all natural’, ‘scientifically proven’ and other generic and often dubious claims. The ads were also pushy: Buy Now, Don’t Miss Out, Hurry While Supplies Last, and so on”.
Content marketing gave way to a more subtle approach.
Unlike Baby Boomers, millennials grew up with marketing and are immersed in it. They can easily discern different messaging types. That makes them a tough audience to sell to.
The secret is to not sell to them. Instead, create content they can use and appreciate. They’ll be more likely to remember your brand – and the products you sell.
Patricia Mulles, formerly of Regional Content & Services Marketing at Samsung Electronics Asia, notes that millennials “tend to like content they can use, relatable stories that ‘ring true’, are Instagrammable or add to their ‘currency of cool’, but also align with values they perceive to be smart and socially relevant, such as cruelty-free makeup, drinks that celebrate diversity, etc. This is a chance for brands to influence and champion society-changing values.”
When building content, ask your team:
- Are you selling too hard and too obvious?
- Does your messaging really attract new customers?
- Can people get a sense of your company values and product quality based on your content
2. Build customer loyalty through trust and consistent messaging
Hard selling is not the only reason for the slow death of advertising. It’s also simply no longer trusted. As a Neilsen study shows, almost every type of advertising is less trusted than peer reviews, brand websites, and editorial content.
When brands and companies made a habit of being self-proclaimed five-star rated, millennials became more skeptical. They took to review sites like TripAdvisor and Glassdoor. Soon, they started using Twitter to air their frustrations and Facebook later created a star-rating function for business pages.
In this climate, how can you create an atmosphere of trust? Be genuine. Don’t rig your reviews. Your business doesn’t have to have perfect ratings.
Leung, who worked as a marketer for an Asian-inspired food retail brand, found first-time customers became repeat customers after their complaints were politely resolved.
“A bad review can be helpful too. Use it as an opportunity to reach out and demonstrate that your business is run by compassionate humans. Just be mindful of your good-to-bad rating ratio and aim for 10:1,” advises Leung.
The Nihon Ichi Japanese Language School makes a great example. They have an active Facebook page with nearly 23,000 followers. They use plenty of audio content.
All the information they share about their learning programs shows potential students what it’s like to be part of the school. Plus, hearing from existing students – both in comments and through the reviews – further solidifies trust towards the school.
A few points for you to evaluate:
- Do you have genuine reviews from real customers?
- Do you resolve complaints swiftly and amicably?
- Have you made any efforts to ‘check-in’ on previous customers?
3. Get your customers to share your content.
Influencer marketing. You’ve heard it before. The idea is to get someone who’s deemed influential to be on the good side of your business. Someone who’s not quite so out-of-reach like a celebrity. Someone who’s “one of us” but with a huge social media following.
Sounds clever, right? Now here’s the glitch.
Millennials can tell when influencers are being paid to give glowing product reviews. And so they see this strategy as deceitful – the same reason they don’t trust traditional advertising.
Notice how the most trusted type of “advertising” in the above Nielsen table is “recommendations from people I know”? Consider applying that to your marketing, too.
To make this work, you have to make it as easy as possible for people to recommend your brand. Give them a widget on your site that lets them share directly with a friend, rather than publicly via social media. Or ask customers who have just ordered if they know one person who could use your company’s services.
If you have to, offer a small discount, or entry into a contest if someone refers a friend. Test what works best for you. Just try to keep money out of it as much as possible.