Byravee Iyer
Jan 26, 2015

Local agencies lose ground to international networks: Pearlfinders

ASIA-PACIFIC - Asian brands’ agency preferences shifted in 2014, with three times as many planning to review advertising in 2015 and demonstrating an openness to work with international shops as opposed to local partners, according to a new study by research firm Pearlfinders.

Study highlights shifts in agency preferences
Study highlights shifts in agency preferences

The shift arises because global agency networks are headhunting multilingual locals to run brand-side marketing teams, according to the firm.

“A few years ago we observed a notable increase in Asian brands seeking international agencies,” Mike Thorne, Pearlfinders’ product director, told Campaign Asia-Pacific. “Initially, only a few global networks were able to capitalise on this demand, but more recently many of the big-name players have established credible operations across Greater China, Singapore and Malaysia.”

Over the last 12 months, there’s also been a huge shift in the sectors offering the greatest opportunity for creative shops in China. Once, tourism-driven industries like airlines and hotels, as well as luxury apparel, were the most lucrative new business prospects. Now global networks should focus on the need for ATL campaigns at everything from carbonated water brands to kitchen appliances.

Pearlfinders also identified an emerging trend for big-ticket live/experiential activations of brand campaigns, which demonstrates a cultural shift in the way people consume branded content in a social context across the region.

Top ten sectors for planned marketing spend

The Pearlfinders Global Index 2015 is an analysis of 10,000 interviews with marketing and sponsorship decision-makers from Europe, USA and Asia.

The study found that FMCG was the top sector for planned marketing spend in Asia, followed by apparel, travel and consumer electronics.

Overall the number of Asia brands seeking advertising agency support increased by 70 per cent compared with a year earlier, according to the study. That represents 509 brands saying they would increase investment in external creative agencies for advertising in 2015.

According to Thorne, FMCG is the sector to watch in 2015. “Even 12 months ago, FMCG brands were not seeing the budgets their western counterparts enjoyed, but this is growing rapidly both in terms of advertising and brand development.”

Although digital was the top marketing discipline globally, advertising still accounts for the majority of briefs to agencies with capabilities in Asia. Increasingly, social media and social content is being incorporated into integrated briefs, Thorne said. Hot sectors for digital are travel, apparel, FMCG, retail, and sport leisure and entertainment.

It is clear that certain marketing disciplines such as CRM and corporate PR are still lagging behind in Asia. However, there’s been a huge increase in both disciplines with companies like Xiaomi, Samsung and Suntory setting the bar. “There are big opportunities for agencies that can incorporate an understanding of international markets into their outreach to brands,” Thorne said.


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