Richard McLeod
Sep 6, 2016

Driving brand value in Indonesia through deep consumer understanding

BrandZ's Richard McLeod analyses the ingredients of brand value in Indonesia.


In harsh economic conditions, building strong brands is tougher than ever. But with business performance at risk, it’s vital that brands connect with consumers in a meaningful way to drive brand preference and stimulate growth. The second annual BrandZ ranking into the Top 50 Most Valuable Indonesian Brands demonstrates how strong brands can insulate a business in tough times. The findings show that the Top 50 collectively increased their total value by 2 percent to US$66.17 billion over the course of a year, despite the current economic climate.

The most successful Indonesian brands in the ranking are winning by investing in building a meaningful connection with consumers. The most connected brands—the brands that meet consumers’ functional needs and then deliver their story in an emotionally resonant way—are growing their value three times more than the competition. It is clear that there is commercial value in defining how a brand plays a relevant and meaningful role in the lives of consumers.

The foundation for a meaningful brand connection is to deeply understand the target audience by unlocking consumer insight. The most meaningful Indonesian brands reflect local values and culture, and help consumers to resolve tensions in their daily lives. When brands are defined by the difference they make to consumers’ lives, they are on the path to forming a more relevant relationship with the consumer.

SariWangi, the Unilever-owned tea brand, is a fantastic example of a brand that is building a deep understanding of its consumers’ needs—and growing its value in the process. SariWangi has developed a strong understanding of how tea tastes vary across this diverse archipelago, and has created tailor-made products that cater to these regional differences. The brand’s marketing then focuses on the role of tea drinking in bringing the family together, which strikes a strong emotional chord with consumers. SariWangi is Indonesia’s 27th most valuable brand, according to the BrandZ ranking, and in 2016 the brand’s value rose by 6 percent to $425 million.

Indonesia’s leading tobacco brand A Mild has enjoyed incredibly strong growth in the last 12 months. A Mild value has risen by 25 percent to $7.4 billion, seeing the brand reach third place in the rankings for the first time. Underpinning this success is a rich understanding of emerging aspirations and desires in young Indonesians. A Mild is a brand that increasingly reflects the growing desire for young Indonesians to express themselves. The brand’s distinctive advertising tells aspirational stories of people confidently pursuing their desires and ambitions, encouraging Indonesians to step forward on the journey to success with the slogan “Go Ahead”.

The performance of Indomie—Indonesia’s much-loved brand of instant noodles—demonstrates the value of meaningful innovation. BrandZ data places Indomie as Indonesia’s most loved brand, and this consumer love is fuelled by consistent and locally relevant product innovation. The brand regularly launches new flavours, variants and product partnerships that are authentically Indonesian, celebrating the country’s diversity and vibrancy. Indomie’s dynamism is also reflected in its communications and storytelling, with new campaigns, online contests and even brand songs. With a total value of $1.1 billion, Indomie enjoyed a 6 percent rise in value this year, which saw the brand hold onto 14th place in the rankings.

Finding inspiration for a meaningful brand proposition can be a challenge, but the foundation is always deep consumer insight. Marketers must move beyond understanding the target audience’s functional relationship with a category and instead seek a deep understanding of their values, aspirations and real-life tensions. Understanding these tensions and finding a credible role for the brand in resolving them is the base for building brands with strong and profitable connections with their consumers.

Key actions for marketers in Indonesia:

  1. Develop a deeper understanding of the consumer: Move beyond understanding the target audience’s functional relationship with a category and seek to understand the localised human values, aspirations and tensions that define them.
  2. Focus on building a meaningful brand proposition that is oriented around the local consumer. Move beyond functional brand claims to propositions that address consumer or societal motivations and tensions.
  3. Consistently innovate around this proposition to give Indonesian consumers fresh new reasons to engage with your brand. Always ensure that product or story innovation is united by the common consumer-centric purpose to reinforce brand meaning.
Richard McLeod is group account director with Millward Brown Indonesia


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