As part of our look at Malaysia's top brands of 2018, which is part of our Asia’s Top 1000 Brands report, we found that Malaysia consumers see AirAsia as the top mobile-friendly brand, with Lazada and Maybank also rating highly. We asked in-market observers for their insights.
AirAsia ranks highly in the mobile-friendly category, in addition to being the strongest local brand in Malaysia. Do you agree? If so, what do you think the airline is doing right on its mobile platform that others can learn from?
Shun Matsuzaka, digital creative director, McCann Worldgroup Malaysia: Yes, they are pretty good at what they do. Occasional bugs aside, they have essentially nailed the user experience. It’s quick, seamless, and easy to use.
They have kept the user journey very simple and fool-proof—book your flight, choose your options, apply loyalty points for discounts and pay online or with your card. Having a digital/mobile-first approach is key to their success. The other airlines came from a legacy system, where most of the bookings were done via travel agencies. To migrate to a mobile platform has not been easy. That translates into a frustrating user experience for consumers.
In addition, AirAsia dares to do the unconventional. They invest in new and immersive experiences. For instance, the Adventure Live campaign, a one-of-a-kind, completely live travelogue broadcast via Facebook Live. Instead of pushing the regular tourist landmarks and package fare ads to the audience, they draw the audience towards the brand with an engaging travel series.
Kenny Loh: CEO, Geometry Global Malaysia: If you look at how AirAsia launched when they first came to the market, it's nothing about above the line. None of us had ever booked an AirAsia flight via a customer hotline, the process went straight to the microsite.
After they rolled out the mobile app, flight bookings on the mobile phone can be completed in a minute or two. They have done a good job because they understand the marketing landscape and they use technology, online transactions, mobile, before thinking of billboards, which they hardly do anyway.
Another mobile-friendly brand that deserves mention is Maybank. Its Maybank2U app has one of the best UX and UI ever built. It's amazing that what they have developed become so easy for their customers to navigate, that they can easily complete a transation on an iPad.
Which social media platforms can make or break brands in Malaysia? Can you give us some brand examples?
Matsuzaka: It’s naive to believe that any single social media platform can make or break a brand. There are too many factors to consider in marketing. And many other communication platforms. That said, ignoring social media in your marketing communication mix can be detrimental to a brand. It’s a good place to mine insights into behaviour, preferences and actions. Done right, it can be a seamless bridge into e-commerce. Some brands like Nestlé are beginning to do this successfully on a global and local level. In Malaysia, their Dear Nestlé Facebook page drives consumers to shopping platforms like Lazada and 11street.
Loh: Facebook, obviously. Looking at the recent general elections, the Pakatan Haarapn alliance won the elections because of Facebook, it makes things more available. During the last elections, Astro Awani (paid TV news channel) and Malaysiakini (independent online news platform) were not on Facebook. But for now even all the parliamentary debates are carried live on their Facebook pages, this is amazing, all this information broke Barisan Nasional (the previous government).
So Facebook can be used as a platform to break a brand easily; Nestlé and Mondelez have been the two giant brands affected. Social influencers have been sharing content about the impact of the high sugar content of Milo on schoolchildren [albeit with no impact on Milo's positioning on Asia's Top 1000 Brands rankings.] When news about alleged pork DNA found on Cadbury chocolates spread on Facebook in 2014, sales of Cadbury slumped overnight and the Muslims went jihad on Cadbury for no reasons.
Ham Maghazeh, head of social Media, Isobar Malaysia: In Malaysia, Facebook tops the social media chart for having the highest number of users, so it’s common for brands to tap on Facebook’s extensive reach as the basic social media marketing platform. But let’s not forget other conversational platforms such as Twitter, which is more people-centric, as well as messaging platforms like WhatsApp, which plays a huge role in shaping and amplifying news. In the past, we’ve seen cases whereby issues damaging to a brand were proliferated through WhatsApp and continued going viral on other popular social channels the likes of Facebook. So, while the starting point of a controversy might be on a single platform, it would get blown out of proportion when users share it from one platform to another. In other words, there isn’t one platform that can make or break a brand because more often than not, messages are shared across platforms.
That said, social controversies can have an immediate adverse effect on reputation and sales on brands but if brands are equipped to address the issues swiftly and in the right manner, they stand a good chance of recovering from any controversy.