Gabey Goh
Aug 30, 2016

Ignore market-by-market quirks in digital behaviour at your peril: Experian/IDC research

New research from Experian and IDC confirms significant market variation in search and discovery, as well as the triggers of product interest, purchase intent, and brand engagement.

Preferred communication channels across APAC: Email still strong, but consumers are open to other media.
Preferred communication channels across APAC: Email still strong, but consumers are open to other media.

SINGAPORE - With the explosion of interconnectivity in Asia comes the challenge for brands to be effective and targeted in the way they communicate with and market to consumers.

Jeff Price, MD of Southeast Asia at Experian, noted that while the region is fast-growing, consumer behaviour in each market has unique characteristics, and businesses today cannot succeed without intelligent insights based on consumer data. 

“For companies to keep up with digital consumer behaviours—how they act on information—it’s absolutely vital to adopt and leverage what their consumers are providing them with every day: invaluable data,” he added. “Businesses slow to act on this data will see their competitive advantage erode.”

Price’s comments follow the company’s launch of The Digital Consumer View 2016 (Asia) report, with research and analysis by International Data Corporation (IDC), to help businesses better understand digital consumers in Asia.

The report looks at how consumer behaviour varies across the key Asian markets of Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Hong Kong, and China, based on surveys with over 1,200 digital consumers.

It maps significant differences in how consumers research, locate, engage with and purchase products and services.

According to the report, regional trends show that while “traditional” digital marketing channels including SMS and email remain valuable, the rapid adoption of connected mobile devices, in parallel with the evolution of analytical software, is pushing customer engagement to “newer” channels including social media, chat applications, and app notifications.

Key findings from the report include:

  • Search and discovery: Social media is the top channel in Singapore (31 percent), Malaysia (49 percent), Indonesia (67 percent) and Thailand (58 percent). It’s equally important as chat apps in China (47 percent). In Hong Kong, video ads (63 percent) trump all.
  • Triggering product interest: Social media, once again, is the key driver in Singapore (28 percent), Malaysia (44 percent), Thailand (49 percent) and Hong Kong (25 percent). However, in Indonesia it’s SMS (62 percent), and in China it is chat apps (48 percent).
  • Triggering purchase intent: Email is the biggest driver of online-to-offline conversion in Singapore (27 percent), while the top channel is SMS in Indonesia (57 percent), chat apps in China (45 percent), and social media in Malaysia (44 percent) and Thailand (51 percent). Video ads tie with social media in Hong Kong (23 percent).
  • Finding good deals: For unplanned purchases stemming from promotions, email leads in Singapore (34 percent). Social media leads in Malaysia (50 percent), Indonesia (68 percent) and Thailand (58 percent). SMS wins in Hong Kong (36 percent), and social media leads in China (51 percent).
  • Brand engagement: Email is key for marketers to build engagement in Singapore (58 percent) and Thailand (60 percent). Chat apps lead in Malaysia (62 percent) and China (70 percent). Banner ads win in Indonesia (56 percent), and SMS is the top channel in Hong Kong (61 percent). While email is important, marketers need to be wary: more than 70 percent of consumers reported receiving too many emails, up from 52 percent in 2015.

The study suggests that the proliferation of mobile access creates the foundation to leverage a holistic “omni-channel” approach utilizing multiple engagement methods including email, SMS, social media, and chat apps for marketing promotions and campaigns.

There is increasing evidence that an omni-channel approach is helping to drive purchasing behavior from online engagement to offline purchase, particularly in the retail space.

A growing number of respondents across the region have made offline purchases as a result of viewing online advertisements or promotions. Social media and chat apps are gaining traction as channels of influence, although traditional channels like email and SMS remain relevant. 

Asia comprises 49.6 percent of the world’s Internet users, according to Internet World Stats (2016). Digital commerce in the Asia-Pacific (excluding Japan) region will rise to US$17 trillion by 2019, up from US$7 trillion in 2015, according to International Data Corporation (IDC).

The combination of rising incomes, increased consumption, acceleration of internet use, and the proliferation of mobile broadband access continues to unlock tremendous opportunities for marketers across the continent.

Shiv Putcha, associate director, consumer mobility and telco strategy at IDC Asia Pacific, said the challenge lies in the fact that the region has extraordinary differences—language, economy, purchasing power—and consumer behaviours, especially with the digital generation.

“That uniqueness will not diminish over the next few years and may even increase, making it challenging for marketers not using data-driven insights to research, plan and execute effectively,” he added.

Key learnings for marketers in Asia

  • Over-reliance on a single marketing channel will not work. Depending on the country and its current state of digital sophistication, marketers need to think carefully about the right mix of channels to employ.
  • Quality over quantity. Consumer preferences for receiving promotional material varies from market to market, and by specific use cases. On a broader level, more is not necessarily better. A relevant and targeted message will ensure better conversion. Too much, and consumers are inclined to unsubscribe, delete, or mark content as spam.
  • The quality and integrity of data is crucial for marketers to find success. A significant number of consumers across the region either knowingly or unknowingly provide inaccurate information, which in turn causes errors and inaccuracies in marketer’s data sets. Around 27 percent of consumers in China but only 10 percent in Singapore unknowingly input wrong payment details; 40 percent of consumers in China, and over 20 percent of consumers in the rest of the region provide a wrong address at online checkout.
  • Almost all consumers in Indonesia provide marketers with wrong details: name (93 percent), phone number (94 percent) and email address (95 percent).

Comparison of key learnings and insights by market
Source: Experian plc, Digital Consumer View 2016 (Asia)




Unconsciously provide wrong address (22%) and payment details (10%)

Unconsciously provide wrong email (15%) and address (22%)

Unconsciously provide wrong payment details (13%) and address (20%)

Knowingly provide wrong phone number (17%), gender (8%), age (10%)

Knowingly provide wrong address (17%), phone number (18%)

Knowingly provide wrong name (93%), phone number (94%), email address (95%)

Receive too many messages (70%)

Receive too many messages (78%)

Receive too many messages (75%)




Unconsciously provide wrong email (23%) and address (26%)

Unconsciously provide wrong name (13%) and address (24%)

Unconsciously provide wrong payment details (27%) and address (40%)

Knowingly provide wrong email (11%), age (10%)

More than 2 email accounts (87%)

More than 2 email accounts (74%)

Receive too many messages (57%)

Receive too many email and social media messages (38%)

Receive too many email and social media messages (43%)


Related Articles

Just Published

1 hour ago

40 Under 40 2022: Mo Moubayed, Veridooh

He entered the media industry and founded Veridooh to revolutionise out-of-home advertising, advocating for it to be more people-, data- and environment-centric.

3 hours ago

Move and win roundup: Week of January 30, 2023

Kickstart your week with news of people moves from Ogilvy Indonesia, Grab, Kantar, SevenRooms and more, in our weekly roundup.

3 hours ago

ChatGPT in advertising: Will clients pay the same ...

ChatGPT is being hailed as the future of digital advertising, but experts warn that it may be an overstatement at this stage. How should agencies and their clients approach ChatGPT?

14 hours ago

Global CCO Alex Lopez to leave McCann as Harjot ...

Changes announced by Daryl Lee.