Product research is an essential part of the consumer decision making journey. After the initial conception of the idea to buy something, consumers enter the phase of active evaluation gathering information and researching.

Consumer decision journey

Source: The consumer decision journey, McKinsey Quarterly, June 2009

While the ‘research phase’ is driven by consumers as they control where they look for the information, marketers can find ways to influence the process. To do that, however, it is important to know where consumers first find information about products.

Where do Southeast Asians come across new products or offers before making a purchase?

The Consumer Barometer from Google has some answers for that. It’s not a surprise that product discovery in Southeast Asia, similar as elsewhere around the globe, is driven by previous experience and word-of-mouth.

At the same time, pre-purchase research and advertising have influence over consumer decisions.

Source: The Consumer Barometer Survey 2014/15. Countries included: Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. Base: internet users, n=38384

On average, stores and showrooms are still the most common place where 51% of consumers in Southeast Asia discover new products during product research. Online comes second with 39% of consumers while 4% are contacted through the phone via text or phone call.

The behaviors change when we look at each country within Southeast Asia:

Source: The Consumer Barometer Survey 2014/15. Base: internet users, n=6527

Singapore leads the digital product discovery journey as 60% of consumers use the internet to find out about new products or offers. Only 34% of the country’s consumers first source of information comes from a store.

In Malaysia, more consumers are first aware of products during the research phase online than in store.

In the Philippines, Vietnam and Thailand, stores are the first place where consumers begin product discovery but the number of customers that start online is close to the region’s average at 35 to 38%.

In Indonesia, however, the situation is quite different. 76% of consumers discover new products in stores and showrooms, while only 18% come across new finds online.

While in most Southeast Asian countries, the number of consumers being introduced to new products over phone via text messages or phone calls is small, marketers in Thailand have found the mobile phone a good channel to reach customers.

11% of consumers report phone as their first point source for finding new products.

To influence the product discovery journey for Southeast Asians, advertising online and on TV are two of the most effective channels to reach consumers but as expected, the situation differs across countries and verticals.

Source: The Consumer Barometer Survey 2014/15. Average of Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. Base: internet users, n=5338

In Indonesia, advertising on TV is three times more effective than advertising online as 44% of consumers report learning about a product they purchased on TV compared to 15% learning through online advertising.

But for clothing and footwear, advertising online in Indonesia can reach more consumers than advertising on TV.

In Vietnam, online advertising has helped 43% consumers discover new products they purchased, almost two times more than 24% of consumers who became aware of new products through advertising on TV.

Source: The Consumer Barometer Survey 2014/15. Base: internet users, n=5338

Marketers in Southeast Asia have multiple channels to reach consumers and should keep an open mind when promoting for their respective brands.

A mix of online and TV advertising, running a content rich blog and betting on relevant keywords are as important as training sales staff in store to learn what customers want to recommend new products.

Happy basket building.

Counter Mobile Ad Blockers


As ad blocking threatens the $60 billion digital advertising business, Amazon plans to lure consumers and counter mobile ad blockers with a discount phone subsidized with ads and data collection. According to L2, the etailer recently announced to subsidize Prime members’ Android phones with ‘special offer’ ads featured on the lock screens, replicating a model that has already seen some success on their kindle devices.

Unlike the Kindle, which only promotes in-house titles, these Android phones will push ads from a variety of traditional marketers. Users are required to install several Amazon apps on the phones, inflicting bloatware and drainage of battery and data plan. Additionally, Amazon will be collecting data around consumer interactions with the advertisements.

Subsidizing consumer electronics devices via advertising is an idea as old as the commercial internet that, to date, has born little fruit. Previous efforts – such as 90’s throw-back – have typically attracted low value consumers, primarily motivated by price, who have a fairly low return to advertiser.

Given the under $200 price of a new Android phone, and the trend moving towards blocking ads, consumers attracted to this offering are likely to have a small amount of disposable income and are therefore of little value to marketers.

Worse yet, this ideas seems to be swimming against the key challenge of advertising on mobile; it has been well documented that excessive advertising can leave consumers with a hefty bill for data used on downloading ads. In the US alone, consumers who deploy ad blockers could be saving as much as $7.19 per month in excess data charges, or around $8.3 billion per year.

While Amazon may be able to drive adoption of this offer via the sheer bulk of its 70 million+ Prime user base, the idea remains a poor response to mobile’s advertising problem of bombarding consumers with poorly targeted offers that often negatively impact the user experience.

A version of this appeared in L2 on July 7. Read the full article here