Thai users are flocking to 4G en masse, with implications for many aspects of consumer behaviour.
Following the recent success of spectrum auctions for fourth-generation telecom licenses, Thailand is now moving full-steam-ahead toward becoming a mobile-first country. Current mobile subscribers in Thailand are over 98 million which is 144 percent of a total population of 67.7 million. With promotional campaigns from all three carrier networks that offer free 4G smartphones and 4G SIM cards together with attractive price plans, Thai 2G users are flocking to 4G en masse. This will result in a rapid change across many of the country’s dynamics, especially in consumer’s behavior and marketing.
The advantage that big brands used to have over small brands will be reduced tremendously now that every player, big and small can deliver a good brand experience via mobile. Additionally, more consumers’ first-time experience with a brand can and will increasingly happen on mobile.
After the 4G-transformation, chat application like Line and social media platform such as Facebook will become even more influential. With Thai people being impulse buyers, mobile shopping will become a mass phenomenon. This represents a huge opportunity for SMEs and e-commerce companies that offer daily discount deals.
As we move into the all-new era of 4G in Thailand, here are some questions I think are key for marketers and our peers in communications to ask themselves before approaching their next marketing campaign.
Why does your brand exist? Does your brand serve any value? What is your brand purpose?
As Thailand moves into a mobile-first society with endless content and information reaching Thai consumers each day, it will become more difficult for brands to become a part of people’s lives. The impact of advertising campaigns (as we know them today) will be far more short-lived than it used to. However if a brand’s every act reflects the same purpose, chances are that the brand will have much better shot at having some meaning in people’s life.
Platform marketing versus advertising campaign?
Due to the diminishing role that TV will play in people’s lives and with consumers now in charge of their mobile content, we will see the declining effectiveness of traditional Thai ad campaigns. Instead, brands need to be there for buyers, always and everywhere, orchestrating a conversation that’s customized to Thai people‘s taste and one that perpetuates their journeys. Marketing will be about coordinated experiences that, like real conversations, are collaborative. In other words, we don’t just talk at consumers through mass media like before, we give them a reason and an opportunity to respond, and adjust appropriately. And for this, we need a variety of marketing platforms that can tackle all consumers’ passion points that relate to our brands.
Are you well-prepared for real-time marketing?
Thailand is the country of ‘dramas’. Any negative things can go viral in a matter of hours. Thai people don’t write or create content as much as they share content, especially scandalous content. Hence, brands need to keep their eyes and ears open 24/7 and be well-prepared for demanding Thai consumers. Which leads us to the next question:
Is social media too big of a task for a marketing communication department?
Social platforms will become a core for brands to connect with their consumers. Yet most of the brands’ social-media responsibilities, which lie with their marketing departments, may not yet be structured to put more emphasis on always-on conversation with customers through various social touchpoints. A restructure for most brands’ marketing departments is definitely in order.
Short-form versus long-form content?
It's not surprising that Thai consumers will not waste their data watching every ad. There was a trend among Thai brands to bet on coming up with a viral video hit in the hope for gaining ‘free’ media. However, that day is long gone now as countless videos have flooded the internet. Increasingly, we are seeing many successful short-form content campaigns using Meme or GIF files take off online like wildfire in Thailand. While the majority of Thais do not enjoy reading long copy, we still see lots of touching short articles being shared via Facebook on a daily basis. The key is being clear on your objective and purpose before deciding on short or long-form content.
Does your brand invest enough in data analytic tools?
Data means nothing without being properly analysed. Data analysis will be very useful for brands in Thailand since Thai people can be quite the “introvert” type where their online behavior could be vastly different from their behavior offline. A research might not generate as accurate a result as reading into their behaviours - given that Thai people do not generally speak their mind freely, especially with strangers. Data could therefore be a crucial way to truly understand your customers.
As a late adopter of 4G, Thailand and its people will be changing in many ways.
The only certainty is change and brands should be nimble to changes to cope with the mobile-first future of Thailand.
Paruj Daorai is executive creative director of Leo Burnett Group Thailand