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Asia to become focal point for gauging worldwide consumer behaviour

Oct 11th, 2012
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SINGAPORE: Asia's growing middle class has lifted the region's image from a low-cost manufacturing base to a thriving consumer market.

With growth rates surpassing Western economies, experts said Asia is rapidly becoming the primary reference point for measuring consumer behaviour worldwide.

Stellar sales and a cult following in emerging and mature markets have made Apple the world's second best brand this year.

Market research firm Interbrand puts Apple's brand value at US$76.5 million.

But increasingly, experts said Asian brands are inching up with Samsung now ranked number nine with a brand value of US$32.8 million.

Institute of Asian Consumer Insight's executive director Bernd Schmitt, said: "We are increasingly seeing Asian brands also being successful on the global stage whether they are coming from Korea, China or Asean markets. I think they will continue."

Experts at the Asia Consumer Summit held in Singapore on Thursday said Asia will soon be the focal point for gauging consumer behaviour globally.

Mr Schimitt said: "Nowadays, we are seeing the century of the Asian consumer. The Asian consumer is becoming the reference point. This is the region where new products will be launched, where companies want to gain consumer insight. Asian region will be setting trends not just in Asia, but within five to 10 years in the rest of the world."

Cutting edge products that appeal to niche markets and lifestyles are key to tapping Asia's growing consumer base.

The region's diverse markets, growing internet penetration and brand awareness are also crucial points for marketers.

US-based technology support firm iYogi hopes to get more insights on the Asian consumer by setting up in India.

iYogi's co-founder Vishal Dhar said: "The fundamentals of our brand are in the essence of how the service is delivered. It is consistent. It's built based on consumer feedback which we take everyday based on the thousands of people that we speak with. And we adapt from that, understanding on how you can morph your service to deliver better."

iYogi has over two million subscribers in North America and gets 20,000 calls per day from customers asking assistance for their software, hardware or handheld devices.

It plans to also open in Singapore and use that base as a jump off point to other markets.

While mobile and online presences are important in brand building, experts said there are still merits in traditional marketing.

Professor Sunil Gupta, who is head of marketing department at Harvard Business School, said: "Why did Apple start a store even though they could sell it to the third party retailers online? The Apple brand is well-known, but the fact that you can touch and feel the product and you can talk to a knowledgeable salesperson, I think that's an important element of marketing."

Although marketing platforms may change, experts said brands must stay true their core values.

- CNA/fa