If you ask someone from Generation Y — more known as millennials — what they’re aspired to be growing up, you are more likely to hear answers involving occupations like doctors, engineers, or lawyers. However, ask people from Generation Z, and you will be surprised by how many of them mention social media influencer.

Why are more people pursuing this career path? Simple. They get paid to do something that they already love to do on a daily basis: posting on social media.

An influencer, someone with a substantial number of followers on social media, can generate a paycheck in the range of from US$124 to US$1,405 for one sponsored post, depending on the follower count.

How come a social media post worth that much? Moreover, why are so many brands willing to invest time and money in influencer marketing? 

The Influence of Social Media

One reason why influencer marketing becomes a powerful marketing tool is that influencers understand what today’s consumers want. Many of these influencers are regular people that gained their followers by curating contents that resonate with many people — earning them the power to influence their audience’s opinion and are more likely to be trusted by consumers.

Tofugear found that 55% of Gen Z consumers bought products due to the content shared by influencers. TBWA\Hakuhodo’s chief creative officer and executive creative director, Kazoo Sato, explained the phenomenon.

Influencers brings an entirely different perspective from ad agency creators. He understands what creates buzz for the smart-phone obsessed generation, and we intend to leverage this sensibility and perspective to involve brands in culture.

As a result, they’re able to devise contents that appeal to the brand’s target customers.

It’s also worth noting that influencers usually have their own niche and have followers that are interested in the same group, allowing brands to target the right audience effectively. Markerly found that those with fewer followers have higher engagement rates, most likely because the audience is interested in the product or the topic the influencer is advocating rather than just being fans of the influencer.

Figure 1: Instagram accounts with fewer followers have higher engagement rates; Markerly

In a region where social media is highly popular like Southeast Asia, where 55% of the population (around 360 million people) are avid social media users, it’s become more critical for brands to gain relevancy among their consumers in this platform.

Figure 2: Social media users in Southeast Asia account for only 55% of the entire region’s population; Hootsuite, We Are Social

Thanks to social media exposure, younger consumers also have an easier time connecting with the other consumers online and trust their opinion more than the ‘official’ brand channels or traditional media, because these people have experienced using it or are experts in the specific field.

The rise of social media usage has also raised the popularity of social commerce in this region. According to PayPal, 80% of Asian merchants use social media to sell online. The number is even higher for the three largest Southeast Asian countries. Thailand recorded the highest percentage of merchants using social commerce at 95%, followed by 87% of Philippines merchants, and 80% of Indonesian merchants.

Figure 3: Social commerce is popular among Asian merchants; PayPal

Case Study: Building a $1 Billion Business through Instagram

One of the most successful examples of influencer marketing is Daniel Wellington (DW), a Swedish watch company established in 2011. During its initial conception, DW is famous for leveraging several smaller influencers on Instagram to promote their product instead of choosing a celebrity to gain the same ‘viral’ effect with lower cost. 

By contacting many of these smaller influencers to post images of them wearing the DW watch in exchange for a free watch, the brand manages to invoke public curiosity and place their products in the eyes of potential customers and have the images speak for itself.

Figure 4: A Daniel Wellington Instagram post by Thai influence bikwansr; Bikwans’ Instagram

The result? Almost 4,700% revenue growth in the three years leading to 2015.

An effect to this extent won’t be as easy to achieve now as it did before as more brands are utilizing Instagram as their marketing channel and the platform has since set up posting guidelines to make it more transparent for users to see whether or not an advertiser sponsors a post. Still, it’s evident how powerful influencer marketing is when done right.

The Key to Influencing

There isn’t one right answer on how to choose the right influencer(s) for brands. However, there are some key rules brands should keep in mind when doing influencer marketing.

1. Alignment with Brand’s Audience

Know your audience. Enlist the influencer that has the same audience as your brand or product is targeting to, to ensure your message falls into the right ears and maximize the promotional effectiveness. One of the brands that did a good job with this was Lenovo.

Brief: To promote its new product line of YOGA 3 Pro and YOGA Tablet 2 Pro computers, Lenovo hired influencers, bloggers, and YouTubers to advertise their product on their platform using images, videos, and blogs that detailed their day using the product and promoted a giveaway. One of the influencers that were chosen was Kileen, a Dallas software developer and fashion blogger that works full time and has two kids.

The rationale behind this influencer: As a mom and fashion and beauty blogger, Kileen’s audiences are active, fashion-conscious women who are interested in fashion or lifestyle products. This match with Lenovo’s target, which wanted to position their YOGA 3 Pro and YOGA Tablet 2 Pro computers as a product that can be used daily for all kind of consumers, including active women.

Result: Although the blog post was only able to attract 62 comments, with other posts from other influencers, the campaign was able to garner 51 million social impressions and rank number eight as trending national topic in the US on Twitter. The giveaway also attracted over 61,000 entries.

Figure 5: A blog post by fashion and beauty blogger Kileen regarding Lenovo YOGA Pro 3; Kileen’s blog

2. The Influencer’s Engagement Rate

Brands should also take into account an influencer’s capability on engaging the audience and whether or not they’re someone your target audience can relate to and trust on, just like what Clinique did.

Brief: To promote better skin care routine among Men audience in general and introduce their new product line for men, Clinique for Men, the cosmetics and skincare brand partnered with 37 influencers from numerous fields, including stylists, filmmakers, lifestyle bloggers, and outdoorsmen. One of the influencers it worked with was Mikey de Temple, a surfer, photographer, and filmmaker from New York.  

The rationale behind this influencer: By partnering with someone unrelated to the fashion industry and more known for his professional works, Clinique was able to display how its new product line is used by regular people as a part of their daily activities.

Result: Despite his post only acquiring 748 likes (around 2.68% engagement rate), the campaign from the 37 influencers was able to garner an engagement rate of 3%, or 3.8 times higher than the post from Clinique’s official Instagram account. The campaign was also able to achieve 2.4 million impressions and over 67,000 interactions.

Figure 6: An Instagram post by surfer, filmmaker, and photographer Mikey de Temple to promote Clinique for Men; mikeydetemple’s Instagram

3. Do Homework on the Influencers

When choosing the influencers, it’s also important to see the history of their professional works to be able to judge their integrity and make sure all parties involved can able to meet all contractual obligations to prevent any future problems. Sadly, many brands failed to do this when they hired Instagram influencer and local photographer Daryl Aiden Yow.

Brief: Numerous big brands like Reebok, Dyson, Uniqlo, and Sony had hired Singaporean photographer and Instagram influencer Daryl Aiden Yow to promote their products on his Instagram platform. However, Mothership.SG exposed how he had been using stock photos from websites like Shutterstock and Pinterest and photoshopping himself in the images to promote their brands. Critically, Mustsharenews claimed that Yow had done this with the brands’ full awareness and approval.

The rationale behind this influencer: With Daryl Aiden Yow’s reputation as a photographer and his production of high-quality images, having him promote products on social media would show how picturesque and good the products are to his 115,000 Instagram followers.

Result: Post the expose, many individuals like APD’s Tim Sharp and Singaporean influencer Wendy Cheng and brands like Scoot and F&N Seasons have slammed both Yow and the brands. This not only damaged his reputation as an influencer but also brought down numerous brands’ name, resulting in contract termination from brands such as Sony and Issey Miyake.  

Figure 7: The number of Instagram posts on Yow’s channel drastically decreased from 1165 posts to 42 posts; darylaiden’s Instagram

Influencer marketing is an effective way to directly reach and attract your target audience without needing to spend millions of dollars on advertisements. However, like any other best marketing practices, personalization is needed when choosing these influencers to make sure you reach the highest level of engagement and in turn, your conversion rate.

Indonesia is arguably the most important internet market in Southeast Asia as a result of its sheer size, emerging middle class, and digitally savvy population.

The annual global digital ecosystem report by We Are Social says Indonesia has 132.7 million internet users, which points to a penetration rate of 50% of the population. 130 million of these use some form of social media, showing how plugged in Indonesians are when it comes to documenting their lives online or using platforms like YouTube to consume content.

Source: We Are Social

With half of the Indonesian population still offline, there’s massive potential for ecommerce ventures, smartphone manufacturers, as well as brands building products to appeal to millennials in the country.

Other countries in Southeast Asia – Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, and the Philippines for example – may have higher internet penetration rates but their smaller populations can’t compete with Indonesia in terms of volume.

It’s these numbers that have forced investors to take notice.

study by Google and AT Kearney indicated that venture capital activity in Indonesia has grown 68X in the past five years, driven mainly by growing interest in ecommerce and ridesharing.

Total VC activity in the first eight months of 2017 was recorded at US$3 billion – more than double the number for the entirety of 2016, which was US$1.4 billion.

The same study predicted the volume of investments in Indonesia will continue to grow in the foreseeable future because VC investment as a percentage of GDP in Indonesia is actually lower than its Southeast Asian counterparts.

Source: Google / AT Kearney

What are Indonesians doing on the web?

Indonesian residents love the internet. 79% of survey respondents in the We Are Social report said they logged on to the web at least once a day. The average daily time spent online was almost 9 hours with approximately 5 hours dedicated to social media and streaming music.

Source: We Are Social

The majority of web traffic in Indonesia comes from mobile phones, facilitated by the availability of cheap smartphones to the Indonesian population coming online for the first time; sidestepping desktops and PCs directly.

Access to mobile has also caused excitement around fintech as only 36% of Indonesians possess bank accounts and only 3% have credit cards. If e-wallet platforms get it right, there are 125 million mobile internet users waiting for easy banking.


Indonesians are also increasingly using the internet to embark on their product buying journeys. 45% of Indonesian netizens search online for a product or service to buy with a similar number landing on an online store and 40% make ecommerce transactions at least once a month.

Source: We Are Social

Fashion & beauty categories attract the highest amount of spend online, almost double that of electronics despite having a lower basket size than consumer appliances like mobile phones, cameras, and wearable gizmos.

It was estimated that Indonesians spent close to US$10.3 billion online in 2017.

Source: We Are Social

Dizzying statistics aside, the Indonesian market still has plenty of space to grow.

Expect heightened competition in the years to come as incumbents jostle for space and keep raising large war chests to outmuscle opponents. VCs, especially with an entrenched position in the market, can’t afford to back down now – there’s too much skin in the game for them to consider any hasty exits.

Recent developments already demonstrate how investors are taking a long-term view of the market. Alibaba injected over a billion dollars in local ecommerce marketplace Tokopedia last year., Alibaba’s direct rival in China, has opened fulfillment ccenters across Indonesia with a view to keep expanding. And homegrown unicorn Go-Jek is rapidly transforming into a Wechat-esque ‘super app’ with users able to do everything from hail motorbikes to get their plumbing fixed, and pay for it via e-wallet.

The Background

Swearing by its mission to be “the first choice carrier with touches of Thai”, Thai Airways International (THAI) has long been identified by its quality service, onboard catering and friendly welcome, as reflected by its position among the top 20 best airlines in 2017 by Skytrax.

The national carrier of Thailand was founded in 1960 as a joint venture between Thailand’s domestic carrier, Thai Airways Company (TAC), and Scandinavian Airlines System (SAS) to later become state-owned in 1977 through an acquisition by the Ministry of Finance. The Ministry today holds more than 50% of the company’s shares.

Aside from being a commercial airline, the national carrier extends its offerings to transport goods, parcels and mail by air to cities around the world.

Its catering department also brought its renowned first-class menu to land through a bakery franchise called Puff & Pie in 1997 that surprisingly became one of the unit’s main income generators.

The efforts led to more boutique restaurants openings in 2013, targeting young customers that look for unique dining experiences.

Puff & Pie Bakery shops are located at many airports, leading public hospitals, and government offices in Thailand. Source: EDTGuide

Shielded by the local government and profiting successful side-businesses, how did the prestige national airline hit so much financial turbulence?

The Challenge

From 2013 to 2014, Thailand’s economy essentially shut down as the citizens protested against then Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, the sister of Thailand’s former president, Thaksin Shinawatra.

The country’s political unrest damaged the tourism industry as many travellers were weary of visiting Thailand due to safety concerns and locals suffered from slow economic recovery.

Protests against then Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra. Source: The Malay Mail

Less flights into the country naturally impacted THAI as witnessed in the company’s reported cumulative losses since April 2013 of over $500 million. Lower passenger numbers, fuel prices and foreign exchange losses were also among top attributing factors.

Following the protest of Yingluck in 2014, Thai Airways’ annual number of passengers dropped from 21.5 million in 2013 to 17.8 million in 2014.

Thai Airways annual passenger numbers from 2008 to 2014. Source: CAPA – Centre for Aviation and company reports

To make matters worse, the airline had expanded its fleet by seven aircrafts to 100 planes in the fourth quarter of 2013, which was one of the factors, among weak Thai baht, that resulted in a total net loss of $487 million.

Thai Airways annual net loss (in THB, billions): 2008 to 2014. Source: CAPA – Centre for Aviation and company reports

Even the company’s catering business couldn’t reverse the heavy losses.

Those [catering unit] high-margin businesses currently contribute only 20% of our revenue, while 80% of revenue is from ticket sales,” said Usanee Sangsingkeo, Executive Commercial Vice President and acting President of Thai Airways International

The companies troubles were quickly summed up:

The company [THAI] had not made profit for four consecutive years” – Nikkei Asian Review

How did the company manage to bounce back?

The Strategy

As 80% of the airline’s revenue came from ticket sales, the airline had to pay more attention to its main income generator to save itself from seeing more red.

Thai Airways should focus on profitable routes like Japan and premium offerings,” said Chakrit Puechpan, Executive Vice President of MFC Asset Management, which holds shares in the airline.

Well, the company was in luck.

In June 2013, Thai citizens received a visa exemption to Japan, a favorite international destination for Thais. This, together with the low fares provided by competitive online travel agencies, and the emergence of online travel reviews encouraged more Thais to travel and kickstarted the country’s tourism once again.

Social media was also a large factor that influenced more travellers to pack their bags. Given the popularity of Facebook pages like, Pro Addict, and Chang Trixget that share travel discounts and promotions and garner millions of  followers. To reach a demographic that would be highly interested in using its services, the company established partnerships with Facebook groups and offered them exclusive promotions to lure more customers.

Roughly 23% of travellers in APAC often look for great travel deals when consuming content.

Amid the fierce competition from low cost airlines, THAI could no longer afford to sell its tickets at prices much higher than competitors.

To reach a demographic that would be highly interested in using its services, the company established partnerships with Facebook groups and offered them exclusive promotions to lure more customers.

Thai Airways promotions on promotional page, Source:

To compete with the influx of budget airlines, Thai Airways launched a subsidiary called Thai Smile to focus on domestic and regional destinations.

Thai Smile was voted as the top airline from Tripadvisor’s Travellers’ Choice in 2017. Source: ThaiIndia

Although the airline’s fare is still pricier than fellow budget airlines like AirAsia, VietJet, and NokScoot, many travellers still find full-service carriers like Thai Airways to be more bang for the buck given perks like a flexible business class cabin.

By 2015, the number of domestic passengers rose to 31.3 million, from which Thai Airways and Thai Smile transported 6.1 million passengers, 28.8% higher than the year before.

To expand its profit centers even more, Thai Airways launched an ecommerce site called Thai Shop to sell branded merchandise such as luggage and backpacks online. The company partnered with ecommerce enabler aCommerce to successfully capture online demand from channels popular among travellers like search engine to boost its online presence.

Thai Airways ecommerce website, Thai Shop, selling travel essentials and branded merchandise.

The Future

The airline plans to revamp its fleet of aircrafts by adding 30 more new planes over the next five years to boost its competitiveness and maximize fuel efficiency to save on operating costs. But could it be too soon?

The airline’s financial status has recently improved after years of challenges. The plan for new aircraft purchases may be too early and could result in a jump in debt,” said Siam Tiyanont, an analyst at Phillip Securities.

The company seems to be moving in the right path as Thai Airways gained a profit of $445,000 in 2016, the first time in the last three years. Slow and steady does it to financial recovery.

In the last 12 months, 144 million people went online for the first time in Southeast Asia — 45 million from Indonesia alone — to shop, to chat, to share news and to connect.

This brings the total internet population in the region to over 1.9 billion people.

While the internet penetration rate for the region (47%) is still below the world’s average (51%), the growth of internet users in the region (8%) outpaces the global rate by 1%.

social media apac

And the catalyst for the rapid growth in the sector can be credited to…social media?

More than a platform to share selfies

Excluding Indonesia, the latest findings from Kepios show that social media penetration in Southeast Asia’s biggest markets (Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, Philippines, and Vietnam) is above 49% of the region’s population.

social media apac

What has fuelled this social media frenzy?

In these markets, being connected has transformed the standard way of life. Anyone can become an “entrepreneur” with a Facebook/Instagram shop, customers order from a marketplace at any time of the day, businesses can sell direct to consumer and the world becomes an entirely accessible market.

In some markets, Facebook is synonymous with the internet.

And these platforms continue to improve their user experience with fresh content, new algorithms, and media formats to hook users into browsing for longer.

Instagram is one example of a social platform that continues to innovate. The Facebook-owned company recently launched a “shoppable post” that aims to let 2 million of its advertisers sell directly to the photo-sharing’s 800 million users.

Although the function is only available to businesses in the US at the moment, Southeast Asian companies should be active on social channels and take advantage of features that push the digital trend agenda forward.

It won’t be surprising to see more of this in the region.

ecommerceIQ, together with Sasin SEC, created the Leadership Ecommerce Accelerator Program (LEAP) to provide the fundamental knowledge and skills needed to successfully run an ecommerce business in the world’s fastest growing market.

The fourth week of LEAP explored the digital marketing tools that companies can use to increase the impact of their channels online.

Facebook and Google Analytics may not be new but many businesses aren’t utilizing their full capabilities. This week, LEAP lecturers take a look at digital marketing strategies to maximize business objectives and understand how it can be applied in a Central Marketing Group case study.

Here are some of last week’s LEAP highlights:

1. Capture Consumer attention with ‘Thumb Stopping Content’


It is undeniable that social media has become a vital marketing tool for businesses around the world,. In Thailand alone, these are the latest statistics:

  • Facebook: 47 million active users, with a YoY increase of 15%
  • Instagram: 11 million active users, with a YoY increase of 41%, Thailand ranked #13 in the world in terms of the number of users
  • LINE: 41 million active users, with a YoY increase of 24%, Thailand ranked #2 in the world
EcommerceIQ Sasin LEAP Course

Vanitcha (Ry) Wankawisant, aCommerce Social Media Marketing Lead

Given the popularity of these social channels, how can brands capture consumer attention when there is so much content to digest? Social Media Marketing Lead at aCommerce recommends brands to create what he calls ‘Thumb Stopping Content’.

Capturing an online audience requires captivating images and catchy headlines but be mindful of becoming  too intrusive. For example, when it comes to video content, always leave the sound off to avoid annoying the end user.

EcommerceIQ Sasin LEAP Course

Facebook users spend on average 1.7 seconds reading a post on their newsfeed via mobile and 2.5 seconds on desktop before they stop browsing.

This means that whatever content you are posting, make sure it is interesting enough to catch their attention within 1.7 seconds.

2. Giving credit to only the most effective marketing channels


Google Analytics is a popular tool that is able to tell marketers which customer touchpoint should be maximized by identifying which channel led to the highest conversion rate.

In reality, customers end up buying because they are inspired by the effect of multiple marketing efforts across different channels throughout their purchasing journey.

For example, a browser may see an ad for a juicer on Facebook but only decide to buy in the afternoon by going directly to the webstore after reading a sponsored article about the benefits of juicing.
EcommerceIQ Sasin LEAP CourseBut how can online marketers give credit to channels that actually lead to sales?

The Google Analytics’ Attribution feature offers three models to allocate credits to each marketing tool – the more credits, the more effective the channel. These are the three common models:

EcommerceIQ Sasin LEAP Course

Last Click Model: credits are only given to the last touchpoint where purchase happened and ignores all the other marketing campaigns. To simply explain this, Khun Watasit compared it to his favorite sport:

“This process is like soccer. The guy who scored gets all the credit and those who passed him the ball are ignored.

Linear Model: the model tracks the customer journey until purchase and evenly distributes credits to each online channel.

Data Driven Model: this model is considered the most accurate to understand a customer’s entire purchasing journey before check out. Google’s unique Model Explorer (available in a paid Google Analytics 360 service) shows you the weighted average credit for the path positions prior to conversion for each channel.

EcommerceIQ Sasin LEAP Course

Watasit (Book) Chindakawee, aCommerce Associate Internet Marketing Manager, Analytics & MarTech Team Lead

When asked which model is best to implement, Khun Watasit said it depends on the marketing objective and budget because this feature informs marketers which channel should they invest in more in order to maximize the Return on Investment (ROI).

He suggests the brand to experiment with all models for at least 30 days.

3. There is no offline versus online

EcommerceIQ Sasin LEAP Course

Nitthakorn (Bird) Wongwan, Central Marketing Group General Manager E-business

Thailand’s retail giant Central Group understood from an early point that the company needed to adapt to new consumer habits, especially after “The Four Big Shifts”:

  1. Aging society
  2. Urbanization
  3. Rise of China and India’s digital society
  4. Digital revolution

“Central Group no longer targets to grow our business only at malls, but we will be wherever our targets’ eyeballs are at.”

In order to do so, Khun Nitthakorn shared that the company combined the best of both online and offline by redesigning its organization’s structures and goals.

EcommerceIQ Sasin LEAP Course

When Central Marketing Group shifted to an O2O (offline to online) transition in 2017, it went beyond assigning a person dedicated to online marketing. Each brand, such as Dyson and Clarins, had to adopt a holistic retail strategy – there is no division between online and offline platforms.

“The KPI for marketing is no longer defined by online and offline sales, instead it sets a co-KPI towards brand sales.”

Khun Nitthakorn shared that the company already integrated online and offline promotions as well as Click and Collect at Central malls. Phase II of the company’s retail strategy will consist of consolidating inventory and CRM systems.

The next LEAP class is on Thursday October 5th, 2017 taking a look at content marketing and how to achieve positive unit economics for your business by the founder and CEO of eatigo. Stay tuned for next week’s takeaways.

[LEAP Week 1] eIQ Insights: The New Ecommerce Opportunity in Thailand

[LEAP Week 2] eIQ Insights: Refinement of an Ecommerce Channel Strategy

[LEAP Week 3] eIQ Insights: Market-Product Fit First Before Anything

Instagram celebrated the first anniversary of IG Stories earlier this month. In one year, the platform has become one of the most important online channels for brands to reach customers as more than 70% of IG users follow a brand page and 22% of shoppers have regularly used Instagram to browse products.

With 250 million daily active users, Instagram Stories has become a new favourite tool for marketers as half of the businesses on the social channel have produced a story in the last month alone.

Its appeal comes from the contrast of Instagram’s two functions; the polished image shots and the “raw” side of the capture process.

“Within the same platform now we’ve got this lovely juxtaposition that allows you to tell a richer story, but maybe [providing] a more authentic, or more earthy experience alongside the more polished core visuals,” said Hugh Pile, CMO L’Oreal Western Europe.

Instagram Stories Brands

L’Oreal’s post on Instagram Stories

However, with so many advertising channels now available to brands, it is important to know what is the right content to produce on Instagram Stories for success.

The path to conversions

There are five main categories of activity that brands can encourage users to do with the feature in the ads for Instagram Stories, but shopping is the most popular objective for brands as 59% of the ads Stories produced since its launch in March linked to a page where the products featured in the ads were available online.
Instagram Stories Brands


“Instagram has integrated ecommerce handoff technology into Stories, namely swipe-up links leading to brand sites, linked influencer tags, and checkout buttons that support brand efforts to move beyond engagement metrics and render their live video content shoppable.” – L2

Brands also use Stories as a gateway or teaser to drive traffic to more elaborate content on platforms like Youtube or Facebook where shareability and engagement are more likely with the user.

Product promotion is still the most popular type of content in Stories, which accounted for 36% of content produced by brands, followed by ‘behind-the-scene’ pieces, and influencer endorsement.

Instagram Stories Brands

Video has also increasingly become a more effective media format that drives online shopping – 34% of Indonesian youth were influenced by video ads to shop online.

With more tools available for brands to engage consumers, especially in a market like Southeast Asia where online marketing channels are dominantly Google and Facebook, it’s time for brands to get more creative.