Steven Chen
Jul 31, 2013

The view from Taiwan: Tracking fast-changing consumer behaviour

As part of the Asia's Top 1000 Brands report, we asked experts from around the region to share in-country expertise on the factors driving branding in their markets. Steven Chen, senior media planner in Media Palette Taiwan, shares the view from Taiwan.

The view from Taiwan: Tracking fast-changing consumer behaviour

My clients and I were sitting at opposite ends of the conference room and the atmosphere was getting a bit steamy. The clients weren’t happy.

Their main grouse was that they were finding it difficult to reach a specific demographic with a younger profile. Existing processes were “not fast and efficient enough”, said my client, a senior marketing manager at one of the top movie entertainment distribution companies in Taiwan.

We discussed various options including investment in social media outreach, interactive events, and mobile media possibilities. After much deliberation, at the end of the meeting, a new promotion plan for a soon-to-be-launched film targeting the younger generation was set—born out of an exhausting meeting where we went around in circles trying to chase the desired target audience.

We tend to know our audience more by demographic than by behaviour. This is because behaviour changes, and is unpredictable. Take media consumption, for example. Multi-screen usage arrived without any warning. Now consumers process information simultaneously through an average of 3.7 monitors, according to a survey by the Taiwan Institute for Information Industry. Now brands need to keep-up and be relevant across devices more than ever before.

ASIA's TOP 1000 BRANDS 2013

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What drives behaviour change? And what has changed in the past 12-18 months? We all agree 2012 wasn’t one of the best years we’ve seen. The economy was shaky, GDP wasn’t looking good.

In an uncertain environment, consumers tend to be conservative. Money spending patterns are also more cautious. In 2012, UNIQLO Taiwan announced aggressive plans to expand in the country in a time when traditional apparel stores were losing the battle to budget clothing brands. Meanwhile, local budget clothing brands went online to declare war. The increase in online apparel sales contributed to the rise of e-commerce sales by 17.9 per cent in this period.

Consumers also sometimes lack confidence. Affected by recent food contamination scares, you find consumers moving to organic food stores that have popped up on street corners. Increasingly, you find information educating people how to eat healthy by opting for an organic diet. They even teach you how to grow food. “Fresh delivery from farms” is a new trend. The ubiquitous 7-Eleven convenience store chain in Taiwan started to promote deli food produced under its “freshly grow in farms” concept. And without a doubt, it’s been a great success.

As a result, the traditional food industry is reeling as consumers turn away to opt for an organic route. It might take a long while to convince people eating out is as safe, but this is the challenge they need to face before consumer confidence returns. 

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