In our report, we found that email was the most important holiday marketing tool globally, with text messaging complementing this in Asia. Social media platforms were the next most popular, a force we believe will continue to grow in the coming years.
Email proved to be a key channel behind the explosive growth of e-commerce in Asia, and this is one of our largest customer segments. E-commerce businesses have a very clear focus on ROI, adopting metrics such as Revenue Per Email to measure success. In the context of Holiday Marketing, e-commerce players like Alibaba are going as far as to define new holidays in which to promote their products. Single’s Day in particular, exceeded the total e-commerce spend over the Thanksgiving weekend in the United States, which is traditionally the biggest shopping time in the country.
In terms of devices, we see China doing more shopping on mobile devices, which is not surprising given the rapid sales of smartphones and tablets. For Single’s Day, Alibaba said mobile sales, through Alipay, accounted for about US$4 billion, or 42.6% of total sales.
Email campaigns are often targeted at existing customers, with brighter festive visuals, countdowns and interactivity to bring an EDM to life. Savvy marketers are however able to leverage upon this platform to acquire new customers, with a growing trend across the region.
Of course Asia is a vastly complicated environment with large variation between markets so it’s hard to generalize, but we do find that consumers tend to remain quite price/offer sensitive and do a lot of comparison shopping online (the majority now via mobile devices). Our research shows Asian consumers tend to love a good bargain—discounts, gifts-with-purchase and incentives.
Loyalty programs and tie-ups with local department stores or credit card promotions are very popular tactics for marketeers. However consumers are no longer limited to buying from retailers within their country and this presents new challenges.
The digital age has enabled online shopping from international sites to explode, supported by an extensive network of international shipping agents services, such as ComGateWay, Borderslinx, Vpost etc. Even buying online from China-based websites, such as taobao.com remotely from Singapore or Malaysia isn’t difficult anymore. All you need is a local agent contact, and a shipping firm to “rent” a portion of an international shipping container.
This also means that local holidays—and their corresponding sales, attract people outside of national borders. Many in Singapore and Malaysia took advantage of discounts during Singles Day and Thanksgiving, and retailers in other markets are bringing these ‘foreign’ holiday sale seasons to their homes. We see this with Black Friday sales in the UK, and the concern is that there may be saturation and accompanying fatigue with the introduction of additional holidays.
Ultimately, the holiday season is a time where consumers are looking for bargains or to purchase gifts for their loved ones. Marketeers will be well placed to think about the channels to best reach them and utilized the broad array of tools available.
Barry Adams is general manager for Greater China and Southeast Asia with Experian Marketing Services