beautyIQ Series Part 1 looked at various practices global brands use in Southeast Asia to boost sales through intertwined transactional and discovery content. This article will focus on the importance of adjusting content to the cultural preferences of brand’s target customers in order to grab market share. Let’s begin!

Smartly crafted website content is essential to engage customers and nudge them towards making a purchase. Even more important to note is that

75% of shoppers are more likely to purchase products with information in their native language.

Southeast Asia constitutes diverse countries with varied consumer trends. To thrive here, global brands need to understand the demands of each market by localizing their content, offering promotions on local holidays or using faces familiar to the target audience in photo shoots. While it may not be budget friendly to create unique content for each country website, even small adjustments have the potential to increase a website’s conversion rate by as much as 25%.

Here are three ways brands can make their online content more relevant for customers in Southeast Asia:

1. Communicate like a local

To enter a new market, any brand should ‘speak’ the language of the country. That is especially the case in Southeast Asia where English language proficiency levels vary widely across countries. In Indonesia, Vietnam and the Philippines, the levels are moderate, while Thailand and Cambodia rank 62 and 69 out of 70 countries, respectively. The only Southeast Asian countries with high proficiency of English are Singapore and Malaysia, who were a part of the British Empire in the last century.

The first step brands should take when launching an ecommerce website is providing a language selector for countries with low English proficiency in addition to a site in English.

French cosmetics store chain Sephora has web shops in local languages in Indonesia, Thailand and China, but its online stores in Malaysia, Philippines and Singapore are in English.

Sephora caters to local customers in countries with low level of English language proficiency by providing the content in customers’ native language. Source: Sephora Thailand website.


Yet, the difference between being good and being great is not simply translating website content, but also taking into account cultural differences and preferences.

The global brand that stands out with well crafted content is American premium cosmetics retailer Kiehl’s. Besides its website being available in Thai and Bahasa languages, Kiehl’s collaborates with local brands to leverage popular social media trends.

In Thailand, Kiehl’s collaborated with Jay The Rabbit, local loveable Facebook sensation, on ‘Kiehl’s heritage for Thai heritage’ campaign where it donated part of the earnings to an elephant foundation. This would definitely score brownie points in Thailand, once ranked the most generous country globally. 

Kiehl’s works with social media influencers to increase its brand awareness and engage new audience segments. Source: Kiehl’s Thailand website.


Kiehl’s also has dedicated Instagram accounts in Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand and Singapore, to share promotions relevant for locals, such as hijab and makeup demos in Indonesia. At the same time, all sites and social accounts are consistent in maintaining Kiehl’s global brand identity with look and feel.

Kiehl’s localizes promotional campaigns making them relevant to their target customers. Source: Kiehl’s Indonesia Instagram account.


Many global brands have strict guidelines that leave little room for maneuver – meaning promotional campaigns, visuals or tutorials targeted to Southeast Asia have to be the same across all countries from headquarters in North America. If brands don’t adapt to cultural preferences, however, they fail to engage customers and face getting overshadowed by competitors with more flexibility.

2. Leverage the power of peer and celebrity opinions

Asian shoppers’ purchase decisions are strongly influenced by peer feedback and celebrity association, according to a report by PwC.

47% of customers in Asia consider opinions of friends and family before making a purchase, while 90% are influenced by information found on social media.

In Thailand, one of the brands that leverages the potential of local celebrities, bloggers and other key online influencers for their promotional campaigns, is Maybelline. Its Youtube channel, which is featured on its local website, contains many videos with well-known Thai celebrities and beauty gurus – immediately putting their products in front of a new audience.

Maybelline features several videos with Thai model and actress “Lukkade” Metinee Kingpayom, Thailand’s Kate Moss. Source: Maybelline Thailand Youtube channel.


In Indonesia, Kiehl’s collaborated with well-known actor Nicholas Saputra and TV presenter Sarah Sechan for their ‘Kiehl’s Gives’ campaign to support Wehea Forest Preservation in East Kalimantan.

Indonesian celebrities became personality partners of Kiehl’s to support Wehea Forest Preservation in East Kalimantan. Source: Kiehl’s Indonesia Instagram account.


Global brands should also use Asian models to showcase products as it’s crucial for the customer to gauge how a blush or lipstick shade would look on their own skin tone. For example, Maybelline Thailand uses predominantly Thai models in their product videos hoping consumers can more easily identify with them.

Source: Maybelline Thailand Youtube channel


Skincare brand Nivea also uses local-looking models on their Indonesian, Filipino, Thai and Vietnam local websites (although it is not possible to buy their products online).

Source: Nivea Indonesia website


Brands such as Shu Uemura and Bobbi Brown also have a balanced mix of Asian models integrated in their visual web content.

Source: Shu Uemura Thailand website


Another issue brands may want to consider is the fact that around 40% of Southeast Asia’s population identify as Muslims. Luxury brands such as Dolce Gabbana, Oscar De La Renta and DKNY as well as fashion brands like Uniqlo and Mango hope to tap into this new customer segment by creating apparel collections specially targeted to Muslim women.

While no global beauty brand has created ads using Muslim models in hijab, Indonesian brand Wardah takes it one step further by offering halal beauty and skincare products and personalizing the marketing to Muslim women as seen below. 

Indonesian beauty brand Wardah creates products particularly for Muslim women. Source: Wardah Indonesia website.


3. Celebrate like a local

Due to its cultural and religious diversity, Asia has many major holiday and festival seasons. And as the region’s incomes rise, so too does its holiday spending, creating a wealth of opportunities for businesses. — Nikkei Asian Review 

While Christmas gift frenzy might be global, other celebrations vary from country to country. To achieve the best results, promotional campaigns should be adjusted to major holidays and cultural events of the particular country.  

Kiehl’s in Thailand is a good example how to leverage holiday season. The company centered their promotion around Songkran Festival, which marks the Thai New Year, to offer special discounts for its products and drive sales.

Localize promotional campaigns leveraging on public celebrations. Source: Kiehl’s Thailand Instagram account.


Popular public celebrations brands in Southeast Asia can benefit from are:

  • Western New Year
  • Chinese New Year celebration
  • in Thailand Songkran Festival and Her Majesty the Queen’s Birthday (which is celebrated as Mother’s day)
  • in Indonesia the month of Ramadan has become known for driving online retail sales and Harbolnas

While it may be complex to calculate exact return on investment in localization of content, the benefits of it for global brands include first mover advantage and higher revenues from new markets.

Tailoring content to match local quirks and preferences, whether it’s using models that match the general consumers’ skin tone or leveraging the popularity of local celebrities, will help you monetize local behavioral traits such as the fact that 87% shoppers in Asia share their retail experiences on social media.

Stay tuned for the next article in our eIQ series the following Monday that will focus on tools needed to distribute products on various platforms in Southeast Asia.



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Ecommerce website content, which encompasses all copywriting and visuals, provides the first impression of a brand to any customer. Content is a major deal breaker for an ecommerce website to inspire confidence to shop without the user seeing or sampling the product. 34% of online shoppers in the Philippines reported they were influenced by online content prior to making the purchase.

With its young populations, growing middle class and digital adoption, Southeast Asia is right in the middle of the ecommerce hype. Around 40% of Southeast Asia’s 620 million population have smartphones and 100 million or one in four consumers over the age of 16 have made an online purchase. The region’s middle class is expected to double to 400 million people by 2020.  

As a result, global brands are looking to expand their online footprint in the region. So how can ecommerce sites in the region ensure returning traffic and ultimately convert their visitors?

To create engaging content, an ecommerce site in Southeast Asia should include these features:


Transactional content means that product images, collections, and reviews should be enticing and lure customers to make the purchase without seeing the product in real life.

Discovery content, also known as editorial, is the content that does not have a strong sales message, but is useful or enjoyable to the user. Discovery content is not new in the online world, but brands that are able to blend both transactional and discovery content seamlessly will find themselves ahead of the curve.

Localized content means that content is not just translated, but together with visuals it is adjusted to cultural preferences of the target customers.

The first of beautyIQ series will cover tips for making good transactional and discovery content, while the importance of the localization will be featured in the next article later this week.

eIQ’s Take on Thailand’s Beauty Ecommerce

eIQ has taken a deep dive into the ecommerce maturity of beauty brands in Thailand. Worth over $7.2 billion, the beauty industry in Thailand is highly attractive for brands overseas, especially due to high demand for global beauty products in the local markets.

eIQ combed through global brands who have their own websites such as MAC and L’Occitane, and also brands who sell their products on ecommerce marketplaces. This series will provide insight on various topics to show how these beauty brands successfully approach the tricky market that is Southeast Asia and how they could further tailor their transactional and discovery content for consumers in the region. Here are the top three content must haves:

1. Invest Big in Visuals

75% of customers cite quality of images as the most important feature when viewing products in online stores. Without being able to touch and feel the product, customers can only rely on images to make their decision so it is extremely critical to show them an accurate color tone  and provide the option to zoom. This also ensures they do not get a disappointing surprise when they receive the product – ending up in a negative review of your brand. For that reason, high resolution images is quite obviously a must.

Unlike fashion, beauty has the challenge of selling a product that looks virtually the same no matter what angle it is photographed at. As a result, eIQ found that the majority of the brands limited their product display to a zoom functionality of the container. This is not considered helpful in the customer journey when deciding whether to make the purchase of let’s say, a lipstick.

How can a brand show a product’s texture or color palette other than simply contrasting the desired tone against a white (or black) background?

South Korean cosmetics brand Innisfree is a trailblazer in this area and can provide some ideas even to major global brands. Its online store provides high resolution product images in multiple angles – from top, from side, with packaging or flat on the table. All products have zoom option and are photographed in an environment that feels like home.

Innisfree also uses real models to showcase the genuine color and texture of the products. For example, a customer can compare tones of eyeshadows or see the texture of a cleanser applied on a model’s skin. Whether the brand is selling cosmetics or skin care, the goal is to give shoppers a ‘real life’ perspective.

Innisfree texture

Innisfree uses models to showcase the genuine color and texture of their products giving shoppers a ‘real life’ perspective. Source: Innisfree website


Attractive, clean images do not require the best of breed photographers. It is possible to do it yourself using simple Shopify’s at-home tutorial or outsource to a content specialist who excels in digital production such as Channelsquid CMS.


Channelsquid CMS offers companies to outsource creation of visuals and content to specialists who excel in digital production. Source: aCommerce website

2. Encourage Customers to Leave Reviews

According to Econsultancy, 63% of customers are more likely to make a purchase from a site which has user reviews, and the sales uplift from reviews can be as much as 18%.

Unlike in Western markets, many brands in Thailand omit the funcionality of user reviews on their webstore. Gain from customer reviews by making them as visible as the product purchase content. L’Occitane local webstore has reviews in Thai language and also incorporates reviews in English from customers overseas providing a broader overview of customer experience. On the Innisfree webstore, customer reviews are easily seen right below the “Add to Bag” button.

L’Occitane user reviews are easily seen on its product description page. Source: L’Occitane Thai website

Customers will not skip Innisfree product reviews that are featured just below the “Add to Bag” button. Source: Innisfree website

However, it is not only about creating the functionality, customers should be actively encouraged to leave reviews. For example, American premium skincare brand Kiehl’s on its Thai webstore enables reviews after the user has made a purchase. Another option is to offer a discount or some other incentive for users to leave a review.

One of the best tools of marketing still is word-of-mouth, therefore allowing your customers to share their favorite products on social media channels by having share buttons will be for your benefit as well.

3. Combine the Shop and Editorial Content

“How-to” make-up tutorials either as blog posts or videos show the brand’s products in action and can nudge viewers anywhere from 64-85% more likely to purchase. Yet often the discovery content is isolated from purchase content. As eIQ observed, in many cases the user is asked to make a choice between entering the site’s magazine/blog or entering the shop.

The best practice is to give the user an option to browse through both blogs and shop. Websites such as Estée Lauder and Bobbi Brown succeed in framing content around certain products in an educational narrative of how-to tips, which also gives the user an option to click on the product and make a purchase.

Beauty brands Bobbi Brown and Estée Lauder offer how-to tips while also giving the user an option to click on the product and make a purchase. Source: Bobbi Brown and Estée Lauder Thai online stores

The blend of editorial and product content also works the other way around – with links to tutorials or blogs included on the product description page.

Another way to offer the user a glimpse into the variety of products is user generated content. Drive traffic and sales to your brand’s webstore by integrating social media, such as Instagram or Facebook,Youtube, posts of local beauty bloggers or make-up artists using the brand’s products.

By using a hashtag or creating a special campaign, your brand can save costs and let the happy user showcase their satisfaction with your product on social media.

Kiehl’s Malaysia Instagram account encourages users to use the hashtags #mykiehls and #UseItRight in order to be featured on their page. The content created by their customers is spread across their other country specific accounts such as Kiehl’s Thailand.


Kiehl’s Malaysia features on their Instagram account customers who use their products and share pictures with hashtags #mykiehls and #UseItRight. Source: Kiehl’s Malaysia Instagram account


Offering discounts is another way to incentivize customers to share their experience. This strategy not only increases audience reach as customers share your brand with their network, but also helps other potential customers. 93% of customers find user generated content helpful when making a purchase decision and it can increase web conversions by up to almost 30%.

Stay tuned for the next article in our eIQ series that will focus on the importance of localization, content adjustments to cater to cultural preferences.

By Anutra Chatikavanij and Aija Krutaine

What do you think makes content a lasting impression?
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opportunity for Men's Grooming in Thailand

Products for men’s grooming are now varied as the demand increase. Source: Harper’s Bazaar

Even after reading about the rise of the Nouveau Bro, I didn’t realize the times were really changing until my eye cream went missing from the bathroom. Thinking I had simply misplaced it next to my laptop during a Netflix binge, I was shocked when my hunt ended abruptly in front of my mirror, boyfriend caught wide-eyed, daintily dabbing the brightening cream around his eye lids. He blinked at me and continued shamelessly.

A couple years ago I may have found the idea of male grooming a bit fringe, but turns out that he is part of a global market for male beauty products estimated to reach $19 billion this year alone. In Thailand, the trend is even more pronounced, growing almost two times faster than the overall beauty sector – valued at $360 million in 2015 and projected to reach $443 million by 2020.

In Thailand, the male beauty sector is growing almost 2x faster than the overall beauty sector – valued at $360m in 2015 and projected to reach $443m by 2020.

“Thailand is known for its gender fluid acceptance, the freedom of sexuality has even given rise to a ‘third sex’. This phenomenon in addition to the popularity of K-beauty breaks any traditional gender norms meaning beauty isn’t only for women anymore,” says Chalermkiat Jinah, popular male beauty blogger of Pemikaz, in Thailand.

But how are these market trends translating to ecommerce in Southeast Asia, and specifically Thailand? EcommerceIQ posits that there is a very strategic and largely untapped opportunity for brands to leverage ecommerce as a major channel for male beauty products. This may prove true even more so than their female counterparts because online shopping behavior between the sexes varies greatly and facilitates male behavior.

Male Beauty Case Study in Thailand

Studies show that male shoppers tend to buy more for utility than for the enjoyment of the browsing and shopping experience. So the convenience and speed offered by ecommerce creates the perfect storm to leverage online beauty sales for men.

When online subscription beauty service Birchbox started selling men’s sample boxes three years ago, the company’s founders quickly learned there are certain shopping habits that distinguish men from women. Females would test samples that the company sent them in the mail—sometimes purchasing a full-size version of an item they really liked—men would immediately snatch up six to a dozen versions of the same thing.

Birchbox was so unaccustomed to such buying behavior that its website started to code the orders as fraudulent.

To test global consumer behavior of males in beauty for the Thai market, ecommerceIQ partnered with aCommerce to look at one of the region’s trailblazing beauty brands. This brand has made impressive steps in ecommerce adoption, and whose brand equity is strong for both male and female shoppers, hence providing an interesting case study for male beauty shopping behavior. (Scope: The data covers Jan-Dec 2015 & a half million online sessions. Products ranged from $5-125 targeted to middle and upper class customers)

 What kind of men shop online? Not your grandpa

Male consumers of this beauty brand are younger, urban and from middle-upper classes where internet and smartphone penetration is higher. 

opportunity for Men's Grooming in Thailand

Half of men shopping online for beauty products are between 25 and 34. Source: eIQ Case Study – Ecommerce & Men Grooming in Thailand

Once connected, they go deep into the experience 

Surprisingly, they consulted more pages per session (9.7 versus 8 for women)

opportunity for Men's Grooming in Thailand

When shopping for beauty products, men consult more pages than women Source: eIQ Case Study – Ecommerce & Men Grooming in Thailand

They stayed longer each session (3.56 mins versus 3.17 mins)

  • This may support the Interactions’ study, which found that men are more likely to read all of the product information before purchasing an item.
opportunity for Men's Grooming in Thailand

Men tend to consult more pages on beauty websites than women. Source: eIQ Case Study – Ecommerce & Men Grooming in Thailand

They had a significantly lower bounce rate (38.6% versus 43.1%)

  • “Most men are destination shoppers,” said Fashion Institute of Technology associate professor Vincent Quan to CNBC. “They are looking for something specific [and] make a beeline.”
opportunity for Men's Grooming in Thailand

Men have a much lower bounce rate than women on beauty website. Source: eIQ Case Study – Ecommerce & Men Grooming in Thailand

Why? Because men shop to buy, women shop to browse

About 30% of online beauty market revenue came from men’s purchases even when they only represented 20% of the traffic.

  • Male conversion rate was much higher, once a man has landed on an online beauty website, he was 70% more likely to make a purchase than a woman. This supports Birchbox’s findings on male soap, above. “[Men] were buying something that they liked, and they weren’t just buying one of it,” said Katia Beauchamp, one of Birchbox’s co-founders.
opportunity for Men's Grooming in Thailand

Women represent most of the traffic of beauty websites, but compared to women, on average men spend more at each visit. Source: eIQ Case Study – Ecommerce & Men Grooming in Thailand

What are they buying?

  • Skincare and Deluxe categories dominated the online sales of the brand (3/4 of total sales).
  • Men tend to buy much more products focused on the body than women.

“Anti-aging and skin whitening products in both higher and lower ends of the quality spectrum continue to have a strong presence in the Thai market,” said the President of L’Oréal Asia, “The company saw a boom in men’s skin care in China and realized the potential for the segment globally. The use of anti-aging products has become common among both male and female consumers.”

opportunity for Men's Grooming in Thailand

Body beauty products are much more popular within male customers. Source: eIQ Case Study – Ecommerce & Men Grooming in Thailand

What type of devices are males & females shopping with?

As a recent report from Google precises: women, both as breadwinners and primary domestic caretakers have a much more active and mobile behavior. In the eIQ beauty case study, 2 of 3 women prefer browsing on mobile. Ecommerce needs to be mobile friendly to target them. But for men, browsing beauty website on desktop is still their first choice (47%) before mobile (46%).

opportunity for Men's Grooming in Thailand

Women customer are much likely to use their mobile to browse compared to men for which desktop is first choice. Source: eIQ Case Study – Ecommerce & Men Grooming in Thailand

Tips to Winning the Male Beauty Market Online in Thailand

1. Provide the right content to your audience

Improving online content is the key to higher conversions. In a nascent market such as men’s grooming, customers need to be educated through tailored suggestions, tutorials or services about men beauty products. In Korea, men beauty tutorials are already garnering a huge amount of attention and this trend is starting to get imported into Southeast Asia. Take for example, Thai blogger Pupe So Sweet, who is an expert of men beauty and has millions of views and 20K subscribers on Youtube. 

2. Win the online battle of peer endorsement 

In Thailand, beauty shoppers rely heavily on peer affirmation and highly trust reviews and content from others to make decisions. A recent release from AT Kearney shows that 59% of the online shoppers for beauty and personal care find peer reviews very important or somewhat important. 

opportunity for Men's Grooming in Thailand

3. Get more products specifically ‘for men’ online

Currently, men still use unisex or women’s products because of the low offering of specific products specifically for men. On average, they use seven grooming products but only three are “for men” products. Also keep in mind, a recent study shows that men are selective with their purchases and prefer to use “for men” products that are fast-acting, easy to use, less processed, and with visible results. “These products are used on daily basis and have been previously tested by customers. A large majority of this kind of customer is more loyal compared to their counterpart,” says Tiffany Schmitt-Chretien, Senior Brand Commerce Manager at aCommerce.

4. Make the wives convert their husbands

Women have a significant influence on male behavior. If encouraged by the people around them, men will take much more care of themselves. eIQ internal data suggests many conversions are triggered by women in Thailand: 40% of ‘for men’ products are purchased by women.

opportunity for Men's Grooming in Thailand

Even if men represent the majority of the customer for “for men” product, women are important customers of this category. Source: eIQ Case Study – Ecommerce & Men Grooming in Thailand

5. Retarget existing offline customers

Men, in general, have higher brand loyalty compared to women. When they decided to branch out from their usual basic grooming regimen, they will go to the most familiar brands. By giving a better deal that they couldn’t get when shopping offline, for example, free samples or discounts on product set, you can convert them to this channel. Selling these products online can also offer males the anonymity that some men may still crave despite the changing image of men’s grooming.


Contributed by ecommerceIQ Team (Rara Kinasih, Alex Henry, Anutra Chatikavanij, Felicia Moursalien)

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