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BW Businessworld

Social Forces Shaping Business In 2019

The start of a new year can be both an exciting and anxious time for business leaders. Understanding trends, anticipating shifts in consumer behaviour and responding appropriately poses a different level of challenge when you are based in a diverse region

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Southeast Asia is experiencing what some call ‘the rising wave’ — a large emerging middle class — which is getting ready for an exciting future. Fueled by growing economies, bold entrepreneurs and rising incomes, the middle class in Southeast Asia will be 350 million strong with a combined disposable income of $300 billion by 2022.

This is a population that has leapfrogged into the mobile-first lifestyle, which influences how people discover, evaluate and converse with businesses and ultimately, how and where they make purchases. This shift is particularly pronounced in countries like Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia, where people spend 3.9, 3.7 and 3.4 hours, respectively, on their devices.
At Facebook, we are seeing three significant consumer communications trends which we expect will intensify in 2019: Video, Stories and Messaging.

Last August, we rolled out Watch, a video platform, and found strong adoption in Southeast Asia, especially in the Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia. We also found that Southeast Asia leads the way in people accessing video content on mobile.

Another interesting development is the consumer adoption of the ephemerality of the Stories format. People now share more than one billion stories every day across Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp. A recent eMarketer report which examined the popularity of Stories said it plays into several broad consumer communication trends — a preference for sharing photographs or video over typing out a text update, the comfort of knowing what you post isn’t going to stick around forever and the need to share everyday moments with smaller audiences.

This preference is also driving the rise of messaging. People are turning to messaging when they want a brand’s guidance or expertise, when they seek a more streamlined shopping experience and when they want to signal that they are open to important updates.

This preference for messaging is even more pronounced in Southeast Asia, with 85 per cent of the people Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Philippines and Vietnam using messaging apps or services several times a day.

Messaging is important because it draws people and businesses into what can become an ongoing conversation. In many cases, messaging can offer people a concierge-like experience. After answering an initial filtering question, people are able to engage in a two-way dialogue, unlocking a more meaningful and personalised brand experience. We surveyed people across four countries and found that being able to message with a business made people feel more confident about the brand and more connected to it.

What do these trends mean for business leaders? Where should they focus their energies in 2019? I have two areas of recommendation. First, experiment with different mobile-first formats from Stories, videos and slideshows to engage customers. Second, choose messaging tools for your business that can help you start conversations with your audience and build relationships.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.

Tags assigned to this article:
marketing and advertising

Benjamin Joe

Joe is Regional Director — Southeast Asia, Facebook

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