Southeast Asia deserves attention from global brands
When marketers think of Asia’s growth potential for global brands, they most often think of China and India, two countries that account for over a third of the world’s population. But there’s another part of Asia that needs to be more than just an afterthought.
It’s Southeast Asia, made up of a collection of dramatically diverse countries, from affluent Singapore to largely Muslim Indonesia to youthful Vietnam and beyond. While Southeast Asian countries diverge on many points – religion, language, politics, economic development and more – they have one critical thing in common. Together, they form the world’s next engine of growth. Whether global marketers are ready or not, it’s time to look seriously at emerging Asia beyond China and India.
Most importantly from a brand perspective, consumers in Southeast Asia are numerous, young, increasingly online and rapidly entering the middle class. The region’s population is already 600 million, almost twice that of the United States, with over half under the age of 30, according to Accenture. That’s a significant population in the early days of their lives as consumers – and with more disposable income than ever before.
Nielsen predicts that Southeast Asia’s middle class will grow to a third of the total population by 2020. They’re already among the world’s most optimistic consumers; Indonesia, Philippines, and Thailand made Nielsen’s list of the top 10 most confident markets. Importantly, one-third of the region is online according to Internet World Stats, with a smartphone often serving as a first and perhaps only connection to the Internet. The outcome of these factors is a young, tech savvy population with an appetite for an aspirational middle class lifestyle.
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