Asia is incredibly diverse – from the big cities of Shanghai and Tokyo to the countryside of Southeast Asia – languages, religion and culture vary. How can brands tackle entry into Asia, when in India alone there are hundreds of languages spread across 1.21 billion people? And let’s not forget about Australia – also a vital member of the APAC region. Serious research and planning is a must for any brand spreading their wings into Asia.
For B2B brands there is a concerted lack of marketing expertise in Asia – or possibly a lack of investment. For example, a German brand initially set up for manufacturing in China for export elsewhere begins to shift sales to the domestic market in Asia. Often the marketing manager comes from the manufacturing side, or little budget is set aside for proper marketing materials or campaigns. Brands that do it right can bring the best of their global branding and messaging and combine it with local expertise – but they should be prepared to invest and to be patient.
Messages, and even brand names, often get lost in translation. It may not be necessary to “reinvent the wheel,” but translated material can end up becoming a strange hodge-podge of content if the concepts do not translate well. So as marketers, we have to look at the source material as well as the target market, and adjust the messaging for our targets. Truly understanding the target market is so absolutely crucial here.
Channels are also very different from the West. Imagine China – no Facebook, no YouTube, no Twitter…your global marketing strategy just took a left turn! As an American who has spent the last 15 years in Asia, it is actually these differences that are the most interesting to me and what makes our jobs so much fun!