AseanMarketers in ASEAN have highlighted the key areas of marketing capability with the greatest potential to improve as part of a survey conducted by the World Federation of Advertisers (WFA), in conjunction with its local advertiser association members in Indonesia (APPINA), Malaysia (MAA), the Philippines (PANA) and Singapore (SAA).

The marketers in the region recognized the need to improve in certain areas, if they are to optimize their digital transformation strategies.

Key areas of focus include their ability to generate consumer insights, integrated activity planning, innovation, digital marketing and marketing analytics.

Respondents broadly felt that they were on top of areas such as design, brand positioning and shopper/point of sale marketing but, coincidently, these are areas less affected by the move to digital.

The main challenges where marketers said they need greater assistance in the transformation process from their agency partners were media, creative and digital. Getting these three areas right is essential in terms of understanding behavior on fast-changing consumer platforms and creating content and experiences that work on digital screens.

“ASEAN is a fast-moving and fast-changing region with multiple markets and multiple ethnicities. Managing digital transformation in such a complex part of the world challenges even the very best marketers. The winners will be those that effectively deliver innovation, achieve data understanding and maintain brand relevance with diverse target groups while accessing regionally relevant experiences, insights and case studies," said Ranji David, Marketing Director, Asia at the WFA.

The need to improve capabilities in agencies was also identified by survey respondents, with PR performing worst, followed by creative and digital. Media and marketing research partners performed best with 54% of survey respondents describing the latter as good to excellent.

The main challenges with agencies included a rapid turnover in staff with 61% of respondents agreeing or strongly agreeing with the statement that "our agencies cannot hold on to their best people".

Conversely, 63% also agreed or strongly agreed that "there are plenty of very exciting new agency start-ups emerging;" that same churn seems to be creating new potential agency partners often in emerging areas, such as social and content where traditional agencies have not been as quick to adapt.

Other topline findings include:

• Most companies are using on average five different tools to measure return on marketing investment with internal sales data at 79%, brand tracking at 74% and media tracking, also at 74%, the most common.

• However, these metrics are hampered by the lack of reliable industry data. 58% agreed or strongly agreed with the statement that "the lack of robust media audience data is preventing us from investing more" and 36% agreed or strongly agreed that it was "impossible to accurately measure ROMI in our market/region".

• When comparing results against the same survey from other regions, South East Asian Marketers are less bullish than their Latin American counterparts when it comes to generating actionable consumer insights, the capability to deliver effective marketing solutions and understand return on media and marketing investment. This is likely to be cultural; ASEAN is a region of great complexity and little homogeneity. Such rapid changes might reflect the fact that no one ever feels they are fully on top of the challenges. For example, of the ASEAN marketers surveyed, just 29% said they were fairly advanced at generating actionable consumer insights compared to 45% of their Latin American counterparts.

• Local agencies are regarded as having a superior understanding of local business issues compared to international entrants, with 51% of respondents agreeing or strongly agreeing with this sentiment and just 21% disagreeing or strongly disagreeing.

The findings are based on a survey of more than 100 marketers representing 65 companies, which spend in excess of US$54 billion globally. It highlights the challenges identified by brands to win in a region with a population of 633m people, double that of the US and 100m more than that of the European Union. ASEAN is the second-fastest growing economy in Asia after China and has expanded 300% since 2001.

The results have been released by the WFA ahead of Global Marketer Week, which is being held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, next week (March 15-18, 2016) and will be presented as part of an ‘ASEAN Accelerator’ panel session during the Global Marketer Conference.

Source: World Federation of Advertisers (WFA)
WFA is the voice of marketers worldwide, representing 90% of global marketing communications spend -- roughly US$700 billion per annum.