How to Keep Up with Rapidly Changing Customer Behavior in Asia

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Just when you thought you had your customer behavior all figured out – things start to change at an even more rapid pace. That remains the case in this technologically hyperactive market, particularly in Asia.

This rapidly changing customer behavior continue to pose significant challenges in improving customer experience in Asia. It used to be that winning customers’ ‘hearts’ is just a matter of persuasion. Put out a great product, package it as attractively and as fashionably as possible, then build a system of rewards and incentives around it to try to influence consumer behavior, and voilá, job’s done.


Things are a little bit different these days. Consider these:

  • In 2014, Asia had 3.3 billion mobile phone subscriptions, or nearly one for every person – man, woman and child. By 2019, that number is projected to increase to 4.3 billion or 117 for every 100 people.
  • The average selling price of a smartphone in Asia is now 30% below the price in 2008, making it more accessible to more people.
  • Driven by the prevalence of smartphones, internet users in Asia Pacific is at 1.457 billion in 2015 and projected to increase to 2.207 billion in 2019
  • Close to one billion individuals across Asia are now active users of social media.

Technology Has Changed Customer Behaviour

These staggering statistics is a tale of Asian customers evolving and getting more difficult to please. The rapid growth of smartphones that are now in the hands of almost every individual in Asia paves the way for an open flow of communication, not only between vendors and customers but between a customer and a fellow customer.

"Customers are changing their behaviour faster than companies can evolve their business models, operational processes, and technology platforms. As a result, firms are changing their organizational structures and technology platforms to break down the silos that hinder delivering compelling customer experience," says Vice President and Principal Analyst at Forrester Research John C. McCarthy in a whitepaper studying the impact of technology to customer experience.

Smartest Way to Keep Up

There are a lot of ways a customer-driven company can keep up with the changing behavior of its customers. But one that would probably make the most impact in the least amount of time is – mobile.

Simply put, Asian customers have shifted to mobile. Understanding this new dimension, Forrester recently introduced the new Mobile Mind Shift Index (MMSI), a tool that enables marketing leaders to assess their customers’ mobile intensity, expectations, and behaviours. For example, Hong Kong, which has Mobile Intensity Score of 38 is higher compared with US (27) and UK (16).

So, for a mobile shifted Asian customers, it behooves every company looking at delivering great customer experience to explore the following:

Craft your approach according to POST Framework.

People: Understand your audiences’ complicated mobile behaviour. Engage them using multi-channel approach.

Objectives: Determine the relationship you want to have with your customers. It’s natural for different customers to have different levels of intimacy with your organization.

Strategy: Use immediacy, simplicity, and context. Ask the right questions that will reveal what your customers really need and want.

Technology: Choose technologies that enhance, rather than complicate, your relationship with your customers.

3 Tips

Match mobile strategy with overall customer experience strategy. For example, you may start implementing multiscreen marketing across mobile phones, tablets, PCs and TV. Johnson & Johnson used this approach in China with great results.

Treat mobile as a convergent point of multiple media. Mobile serves as a powerful bridge between digital and physical; between traditional and interactive media. And yes, between your business and your customers.

Use popular mobile messaging apps as a way to facilitate two-way communication. In China, for example, they adopt an online-to-offline approach where QR codes are provided on offline channels (print ads, in-store posts, product packaging, etc.) and they often work with WeChat, a mobile platform that is integrated with payment options.


The ‘mobile mindset’ of APAC consumers

"Customer Behaviour Changing Faster than Business Models Can Keep Up": Forrester

CASE STUDY: How Johnson & Johnson optimised multi-screen impact for Neutrogena sunscreen

Infograph: How technology has changed Asia’s consumer behaviour