RamKrishna Raja
Jul 31, 2013

The view from Thailand: All signs point to exciting growth

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. RamKrishna Raja, MD, digital, IPG Mediabrands, shares the view from Thailand.

The view from Thailand: All signs point to exciting growth

With its strong economic growth indicators, Thailand offers an exciting growth market for brands and agencies. A recent economic study by the government suggested media services will be one of the key growth drivers of the economy in the coming years. Pretty much every media/marketing indicator is growing. TV penetration is at 100 per cent with cable/satellite at 64 per cent, and growing. Spending is up substantially, and with the world’s largest social media city as its capital, digital is exploding as well. 

Thailand is unique in a few ways vis-à-vis its Southeast Asian neighbors in the region. It still remains a Bangkok-heavy market with almost 50 per cent of advertising expenditure being focused on the greater Bangkok area.  And given its ubiquity and popularity, TV is the media-king, the eyeball-emperor and the spending-maharaja put together. For all the growth in digital penetration, spending still lingers at around 3-4 per cent. Lastly, social media in Thailand does not end with Facebook or YouTube. There is a well-established local blogosphere and forums that drive objective opinion sharing that Facebook just cannot touch.

Digital-driven integrated branding campaigns have been the most important and much-welcomed branding trend in the market.  Brands increasingly leverage digital for driving branding campaigns (as opposed to solely Cost Per Action campaigns). The biggest realisations came from sheer numbers that were staring marketers in the face: 18 million social media users, YouTube numbers off the charts, and the top three Instagrammed locations globally.  

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But obstacles do remain. Given the nascency of integrated/digital thinking, brands do tend to take a TV-esque/entirely promo-driven approach to integrated campaigns. Mobile is woefully under-leveraged by local brands despite the iOS/Android-ness of urban populations. This, in addition to over-reliance on TV causes serious inventory and inflationary issues to marketers. I strongly believe, and I am sure my agency peers in the market would agree, that the TV line extends beyond the point of diminishing return and that there is a clear opportunity to optimise.

Smart brands have come to take heed to this and have succeeded by adapting global brand templates to local needs and behaviours. Coca-Cola combined its brand promise of hope, happiness and positivity to create the award-winning ‘A million reasons to believe in Thailand’ campaign in 2012 that comprised a social-media driven ‘Beacon of Hope’, a ‘Hall of Happiness’ and a ‘Positive Energy Community’ that drove excellent results.

Unilever has extended its Magnum equity in what arguably is the biggest sweet-toothed nation in this part of the world and has driven by far the most effective social-media driven integrated campaign to date in the market. Local brands are following suit seeing similar successes. Such early successes for sure give marketers a taste of very sweet things to come in a market that is beaming with smiles and excitement towards the future. 

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