Despite the Covid-19 outbreak and its related challenges, the economies of Southeast Asian countries performed surprisingly well in 2020 as the Asian Development Bank (ADB) projected a contraction of 3.8%. The numbers do not strike fear in the hearts of economists and entrepreneurs alike when compared to Eurozone’s 7.9% and Britain’s 10.1%. In fact, Southeast Asia’s digital economy experienced a significant growth last year (RM4 billion) due to the e-commerce industry’s rapid expansion. Meanwhile, the e-Conomy SEA Report spotlighted that 2020 saw 40 million new online customers in the region and predicted that Southeast Asia’s digital economy will be valued at RM1.2 trillion within the next 5 years. With such promising figures, Southeast Asia has the potential to be major players as well as are capable of setting trends that will shape the digital marketing landscape. While the opportunity is clear, it is equally important for ASEAN digital marketers to identify potential challenges, such as below, so that you can be better prepared to take your business to the next level:
1. Choosing The Right Online Marketing Channels
As the digital marketing sphere consists of a multitude of online platforms, it is important for digital marketers to identify which online marketing channels are suitable for their businesses. One of the best ways to identify the best online platform is by comparing between acquisition and retention channels, as well as organic and paid channels. Once you have made the comparison, it is time to seal the deal by looking at each channel as per the following criteria: scalability (size of the marketing channel), targeting (who your audience is) and customer acquisition cost (marketing cost that the company will incur to acquire new customers).
2. Limited Access To Banking Facilities
While the world is aggressively progressing and embracing the digital age, unfortunately, there is still a vast number of consumers within ASEAN countries that have inadequate access to banking facilities. This limits their capacity to shop online and ultimately, hinders the development of the e-commerce sector. Additionally, platinum and credit cards holders in some ASEAN countries have experienced hesitance to facilitate in online exchanges and share personal financial information on e-commerce websites due to limited knowledge on data protection and consumer privacy.
3. Digital Divide Is A Major Gap In ASEAN Countries
The Covid-19 pandemic highlighted the importance of digitalization and the internet. However, it also spotlighted the sullen reality that a digital divide continues to exist, despite government initiatives to provide internet access to those residing in rural areas across ASEAN countries. Why is this a challenge? To put it simply, those who are forcefully “left behind” represent the missed opportunity for digital transformation that will subsequently help in developing trade in world and regional economies.
4. Keeping Up With The Youthful Populace
Within the 600 million people hailing from the ASEAN bloc, 90% are educated, while 50% are aged below 30 years old. It goes without saying that this tech-savvy group will contribute vigorously to the development of the digital economy. From shopping, to banking, to ordering food, the youth will turn to online means to navigate through their day. The challenge, however, is understanding, reaching to and keeping up with this tech-savvy populace efficiently. As the youthful populace hails from a generation that appreciates speed and efficiency, being two steps ahead will serve digital marketers well in growing their business.
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