Nick Waters
Oct 10, 2018

What’s next?

Asia-Pacific buying power and tech-friendly markets to lead next-gen global brands.

Nick Waters is CEO of Dentsu Aegis Network APAC.
Nick Waters is CEO of Dentsu Aegis Network APAC.

We asked four APAC-based agency-network heads to comment for our special 50th anniversary issue. See Agency voices: Regional leaders look forward.

The pace of change is accelerating globally, and the centre of world economic gravity is moving inexorably east. Our business is very different now from five years ago, and will be very different again in five more years.  

By 2021, digital transformation is set to contribute over US$1 trillion to Asia-Pacific’s GDP. A recent Microsoft report says that by 2030, two-thirds of the global middle class will be living in Asia. According to Dentsu Aegis Network’s Ad Spend Forecast, released in June, this year Asia will contribute 41% of the global increase in ad expenditure (US$613.5 billion). Asia is now at the leading edge of global change and will increasingly provide innovation leadership in our industry and beyond.

China is already a frontrunner in consumer products, payments, machine learning and cloud computing, outpacing the rest of the world, and set to lead in AI and robotics and their application for consumers and business. The retail revolution, advancing strongly in China, is just starting in the rest of Asia, where the integration of online, mobile and physical environments to create an omni-channel experience for shoppers is still at an early stage.

South and Southeast Asia will be a major engine of economic growth. Tens of millions of people are being lifted out of poverty and entering the world of consumerism. A new class of ‘super consumers’ has emerged in India, while 60 million Indonesians are projected to move up to the middle class over the next decade. 

The forces of “hard” globalisation are in retreat. Famous western brands built over many decades will find growth in Asia harder. National champion companies and brands are growing across the region and conquering markets because they are closer to consumers and quicker to adapt and lead.

We have now entered the era of mass customisation, where building brands requires the ability to identify and target real people. In a mobile-led world the challenge for customer engagement will be a deep personalisation of services. 

We move towards an era of data-led, technology-enabled, people-based marketing with brand stories told in real time, personalised and customised to create greatest relevance, and appropriate re-engagement to build loyalty and advocacy. 

Asia-Pacific will become the crucible in which the next generation of global brands is forged.

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