Mark Chamberlain
Sep 28, 2015

What puts Indonesia's top brands on top?

Millward Brown's Mark Chamberlain looks at how digital innovation is driving up the value of Indonesia’s top brands.

Mark Chamberlain
Mark Chamberlain

Indonesian consumers have wholeheartedly embraced mobile and social media. Every brand with ambitions to succeed in this dynamic market needs a digital communication strategy that will engage consumers who are confident and tech-savvy, but also navigating complex tensions within their lives. The brands that have responded to this challenge are the strongest in the country: the Top 5 in the 2015 BrandZ ranking of Indonesia’s most valuable brands invest significantly more in digital innovation and media compared to the lowest-ranked brands.

On average, Indonesians spend three hours a day using a mobile phone – more than they spend watching TV. While only about one in five mobile users currently has a smartphone, the number of people upgrading is rising rapidly and, with it, the impact of online word-of-mouth and digital advertising. More than 62 million Indonesian consumers are on Facebook, and almost six million use local social networking site Kaskus.

Television remains the cornerstone of national campaigns, consistently accounting for about 65% of total budgets. But digital media is providing consumers with new sources of information and inspiration, offering advertisers an attractive proposition for improving brand engagement. Digital spend is forecast to rise by 39.7% by the end of this year, giving digital 8% of the total advertising market.

Digital dominators

Among the brands that excel at building powerful digital connections is Indonesia’s most valuable brand BCA, worth US$9.9bn. The bank has increasingly focused its ad spend on digital in recent years, both for building awareness and for lead generation, in addition to using digital innovation to provide a better service to customers. BCA uses social media to understand consumers’ needs and drive new service development.

Telkomsel, number three in the ranking, dominates the Indonesian telecoms category with a strong commitment to brand-led growth. Its ‘Go Discover’ mantra gives the brand a compelling and unifying purpose which it communicates and amplifies through consistent messaging across multiple touchpoints, including social media.

Global personal care brand Pond’s (no.13) is a significant investor in digital advertising in Indonesia, creating a buzz in 2014 around its sponsorship of the Asia’s Next Top Model TV contest. Highly active on Facebook and Twitter, it runs quizzes and competitions and invites customers to share experiences through stories and pictures.

Much-loved local beauty brand Citra (no.32) uses digital marketing to emphasise the benefits of its natural ingredients – with recent activities including the ‘Citra Berani Natural Selfie Competition’ – and also to promote its online advice platform Rumah Cantik Citra.

The advertisers and marketers driving the success of these brands, and the other digital dominators in the market, are working with much more than a generous budget and a mandate to be creative. These alone will not lead to effective campaigns; brands also need to build their digital strategy around five key truths about Indonesian consumers. 

1. Consumers want brands to make a genuine, emotional connection.

Just five years ago, a brand could secure its place in consumers’ lives by achieving widespread visibility. Consumers are now far more sophisticated and selective, and it is the ability to make a meaningful connection that matters most. Messages about functional attributes such as quality and value are still important, but these should sit at the core of an emotionally compelling and memorable brand story that brings to life what this means for consumers. 

Mobile network provider XL (no.15) recently launched a cross-platform advertising campaign for its new 4G service, with TV commercials and digital content focused on its #4Goodness story, which highlights the emotional benefits of having 4G, freeing up time to do other things.

2. They want to move with the times – without abandoning their heritage.

They seek out brands that help them blend modernisation with tradition. Local brands dominate the Top 50, but multinational brands are also succeeding by offering something that is innovative and aspirational, and also aligned with local values. Global shampoo brand Sunsilk is fondly regarded as an Indonesian favourite because it ‘feels’ local.

3. Diversity runs deep.

Indonesia unites 17,000 islands, 700 languages and dialects, and 300 ethnicities, and this has a significant bearing on attitudes towards marketing. A recent Millward Brown study in 12 cities proved that big differences exist in people’s receptiveness to advertising messages, even between regions that are geographically close. Brands need to understand these nuances, and find out what will unite and resonate with the greatest number of consumers.

4. Indonesians are masters at multi-screening, but they still love TV.

They accumulate nine hours of screen time a day – the highest in the world – and use more than one device simultaneously for over six hours a day (Source: Millward Brown’s AdReaction 2014). One in five multi-screen minutes is spent 'meshing', looking up or discussing the TV programme or advertising they are watching.

Despite the rise of digital media, the unparalleled ability of TV to help brands efficiently achieve national reach will cement its role in great national ad campaigns for some time to come. Ambitious brands should use all screens at their disposal to build layered, meaningful relationships with consumers.

5. Digital is seen as a tool for creation, not just consumption.

Brands can build brand advocacy by encouraging and providing opportunities for co-creation. Telekomsel’s ‘Everyday Discoveries’ campaign draws on user-generated content and social sharing, and this has resulted in a proliferation of brand-centric communication online.

Indonesia is entering a pivotal stage in its development, and the brand landscape is on the cusp of tremendous change. Now is the time to focus on branding; consumers are more aware of and engaged with brands than ever, and digital advertising has tremendous power to help consumers identify the brands and products that can enrich their lives. But marketers and advertisers must achieve a delicate balance between reflecting cultural values that resonate across a diverse nation, and being sufficiently innovative to stand out. Successful brands – both local and international – will forge powerful connections by telling meaningful stories using digital assets that are discoverable, shareable and shoppable across multiple devices.

Mark Chamberlain is managing director for Indonesia at Millward Brown

 

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