In this article, the third in our series on marketing and advertising in Asia, we look at media consumption habits across the region.
The way people in Asia consumes media is drastically changing. In 2016, for the first time, online overtook TV as the most popular means for consuming media across many countries within the continent; the shift towards online has been gradual over the past two decades, but this marks a turning point that will see digital begin to accelerate over more traditional means.
There is a huge desire among consumers in Asia to be connected anytime and anywhere – and in many countries, this desire is much greater than any other region of the world.
A recent Nielsen survey of 30,000 consumers from across Asia found that this desire for constant connectivity was highest in the Philippines, where 94% said that they enjoy the freedom of constant online connectivity. This was followed by Indonesia at 89%, and is consistently high among many of South-East Asia’s other main markets, compared with a global average of 76%.
Bigger is (sometimes) better
Despite pervasive use of smart devices, bigger screens are preferred when it comes to watching content. The aforementioned Nielsen report was carried out to understand how the changing digital landscape is impacting how, where and why people watch video.
Inhabitants of South-East Asia showed the greatest preference for watching films on a laptop or computer over TV, but despite their love for big-ish screens, they also showed a much higher likelihood for watching video on a smartphone compared to the global average.
Time spent is on the up
The desire to be connected anywhere and at any time has not yet joined up with the amount of time people in Asia spend engaging with media across all formats.
ZenithOptimedia found that media consumption was actually the lowest in Asia of all global regions; the average time spent by the average person per day consuming media was 301 minutes – compared to the global average of over 500 minutes.
That said Asia-Pacific is experiencing the fastest regional growth of time spent consuming media – rising 6.7% per year compared with the global average of 2.9%. We can expect that 301 minute number to head only one way: up!
Cheaper, better connectivity and higher incomes
In the Philippines, the country whose inhabitants have the strongest desire to be connected at all times, the rapid increase in time spent consuming content can clearly be attributed to two macroeconomic trends.
- For the first time young professionals are now able to afford what were once luxuries, such as home broadband and smart devices, due to their increasing incomes and a stable economy, growing the scale of the middle classes.
- Due to investment in infrastructure (both private and public) the major telecoms companies are now able to offer cheaper and faster 4G and broadband services, driving competitiveness to reach new audiences.
The same trends can be observed in China and are noticeable in many other countries across the region.
What is particularly distinctive about China, Japan & Indonesia, is how the evolution of digital media consumption is so heavily centred around its tier one cities.
As expected, it is the younger generation driving the digital transformation as they are flock to Megacities like Beijing, Shanghai, Jakarta & Tokyo. As a result, these metropolises are seeing a hugely disproportionate amount of internet usage. As they draw in a larger proportion of new generations each year, the usage and scale of digital consumption is set to see exponential growth in the near term.
While digital consumption is skewed towards Megacities and younger generations, there are huge rural and semi-rural populations that skew slightly older and still consume traditional TV. In fact traditional TV remains a hugely important media across China.
The impact of the state
There are some unique politically driven behaviours playing out across the region. In China the government is very enthusiastic to run and control the emerging smart TV hardware and software industry.
As more, younger Chinese begin to travel their appetite to view unregulated content grows too. As a result many people are choosing instead to view content on their mobile phones due to the higher levels of freedom (and convenience). According to IPMark mobile internet is growing at 20% per year in China.
So what does this mean?
There is a clear and rapid shift across Asia towards digital content consumption, driven by rapidly evolving markets like the Philippines, Indonesia, China and individual Megacities.
In some countries large screens and broadband are being bypassed entirely by smartphones and 4G. That said there remains a large (and growing) rural and elderly population for whom TV still carries significant weight.
The key to getting it right in Asia, as with all marketing & advertising, is to study your audience and understand how they want to be engaged. The rapid movement through device formats means that there are exciting opportunities to experiment and learn quickly, while also reaching audiences at massive scale.
This article is part 3 in a series of 5 articles covering advertising and marketing in Asia.
Part 3 Media consumption trends in Asia
Part 4 Creative agencies in Asia – A background
Part 5 International brands that have won the hearts of Asian consumers
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