South East Asian consumers are automation-ready but are brands?


By Charlotte McEleny | Asia Editor

July 3, 2019 | 4 min read

People in South East Asia are more ready than global counterparts for automated experiences, according to research from Adobe.

The research tried to understand consumer perceptions against the changing tide of experiences with brands, in lieu of the technology disrupting brand experiences. In terms of automation, South East Asian and Indian consumers were found to be the most accepting, with the caveat that the experience had to be done well.

According to the research, four-fifths of respondents in India (79%) agreed that if done well, completely automated interactions with a company can delight them, while two-thirds of respondents in South East Asia said the same. Markets like the United States (63%); the United Kingdom, France (both 58%), and Australia (57%) were less receptive in comparison.

Speaking to The Drum during the Adobe Symposium in Sydney last week, Scott Rigby, head of digital transformation for Adobe, said that while the research couldn’t confirm the reasons driving it, it’s likely to be the regions technology leap-frogging from desktop to mobile at the heart of the shift.

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“We can hypothesize around correlation or causation, but certainly I think that Asia, in general, is leap-frogging direct to mobile and has up-levelled that expectation. Certainly, we see lots of digitized services that are just straight forward adopted within South East Asia but not in some of the western countries. Some Asian countries still want the hand holding face-to-face or the interaction, but certainly Asia's adoption of mobile I think has certainly accelerated that appreciation for automation,” he explained.

Rigby gave the example of financial services in South East Asia, where innovation is leading in terms of automation around mobile apps and even at ATMs. As early as 2016 banks in Singapore were launching ATM video banking and chatbot services to increase the accessibility of its services outside of brand visits.

South East Asian consumers also ranked extremely high compared to global markets for wanting to interact with brands via computers, versus human interaction. According to the research, 45% of South East Asian respondents said this, versus 23% in Japan, for example.

Overall, Rigby’s advice to brands was to use the South East Asian market’s receptivity to technology to push forward on digital transformation projects, while being mindful that the experience needs to be positive.

“The South East Asian survey data is encouraging for brands in this region as it underscores the receptivity of consumers here, towards the transformative impact that technology can bring to customer experiences. With a high mobile penetration across the region, the rate of digital adoption and transformation here is now unmatched. What we’re witnessing here is a unique opportunity for brands to experiment – as Southeast Asian consumers leapfrog through technology adoption stages, to become early adopters of technology advancements when it comes to brand experiences,” he added.

In a recent study by Adobe in Europe, the company found that marketers weren’t putting digital experiences as high up their list of priorities than they should. While it’s not shown in the data how high a priority this is to South East Asian markets, the opportunity to gain consumer loyalty through automation, done well, could be a good starting point.


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