Piotr Jakubowski
May 28, 2015

Indonesia Q&A with VML's head of digital

Time online has increased expectations from Indonesian consumers and brands are responding with beefed up digital investment.

Indonesia Q&A with VML's head of digital

Time online has increased expectations from Indonesian consumers, and brands are responding with beefed up digital investment. Campaign spoke with Piotr Jakubowski, head of digital with VML Indonesia about the trends.

What were the major themes you observed in in Indonesia during the past year? 

In 2014, Indonesia experienced a shift in opinion regarding digital marketing, in that many brands finally decided that investment in digital needs to be larger - and more importantly needs to be meaningful. Brands started to take a closer look at how crafting great content can help tell the true story of their offering. 

Indonesians’ presence on social media has remained strong on Facebook, Twitter, Path and most recently Instagram. But as in many other countries, their behaviour on these platforms has shifted significantly. Messenger applications are critical to the social culture of Indonesia, with many Indonesians using more than one app—WhatsApp, LINE, Facebook Messenger, KakaoTalk, WeChat or (believe it or not) BlackBerry Messenger.

Despite continued challenges in terms of logistics and payment gateways, ecommerce (both B2C and C2C) is also a theme that continues to make headlines in the country. Hundreds of millions of dollars are being invested in the ecommerce industry and the next couple of months will provide an interesting battleground for companies such as Zalora, Blibli.com, MatahariMall, OLX and BukaLapak.

What were the country’s defining trends in marketing or consumer culture?

With the accessibility to less-expensive smartphones and tablets, and the ever-decreasing cost of mobile data, people are spending more time online. The utility of the connected world is becoming a reality to Indonesian consumers, as they become exposed to access to products and services at the click of a button.

Have new technologies altered the market?

The continuing drop in price of Android-based cell phones, the appearance of Chinese brands such as Xiaomi or Oppo and the development of local Indonesian handsets like Advan or Evercoss have really lead the way in a market that once had the largest amount of Blackberry handsets in the world.

Another interesting breakthrough in Indonesia is the rise of utility applications as people traverse the hardships of living in cities like Jakarta and Surabaya. With the #1 and #5 most traffic-locked cities in the world, Indonesians turn to Waze, a crowd-sourced real-time traffic update app, in attempts to find a better way to deal with the situation.

Connecting digital technology with existing cultures/way of life has also seen positive feedback.

Go-Jek is the most famous, connecting Indonesia’s motorcycle taxi drivers or ‘ojeks’ with customers through an application. Go-Jek even allows consumers to order food or get their shopping done without ever having to step into the chaos of traffic outside.

What movement have you observed in terms of consumer attitudes and behaviour?

As in many markets that have shifted to a digital culture, consumer expectations for brand responses have increased significantly, especially when problems or complaints arise. Brands can no longer wait to provide a response, and many have beefed up social strategies to address these issues.

Consumers are also becoming more open to ecommerce despite the obvious logistical/payment challenges. However ecommerce in Indonesia doesn’t just take the shape of B2C and C2C because social platforms still play such a critical role. S-Commerce is prevalent on Instagram, which has become one of Indonesia’s fastest growing platforms.

How are brands responding to those trends or how should they be responding?

There are a few brands on the market that started preparations for the digital shift earlier than others, which has triggered others to follow. Telkomsel, for example, prides itself on having built the world’s fastest responding Twitter customer service team with a response time of just minutes.

Overall, brands are heading in the right direction in terms of understanding the relevance of online communication as part of their overall marketing strategy. Their stories, if crafted the right way, have the chance to not only reach but also engage more people in a meaningful way.

Piotr Jakubowski is head of digital, VML Indonesia




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