How Can Brands Better Connect Visually with SE Asian Audiences?

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According to new research from Visual GPS released by Getty Images in conjunction with global market research firm YouGov, people living in South East Asia “are highly concerned with caring for the planet, yet most people prioritize convenience over the environment.”

For the study Visual GPS looked at the key forces influencing consumer decision making, both globally and in Southeast Asia, offering insight into what people care about to help brands better connect with their audience through resonant visuals.

“We live in an increasingly visual world. Having the perfect image, video, or illustration can mean the difference between connecting with your audience or simply being bypassed,” said Kumiko Shimamoto, Vice President of Getty Images Asia.

“It can be difficult to choose visual content that will resonate with your target consumer, unless you understand what’s important to your customers and what drives their decision making – this is the problem Visual GPS seeks to solve.”

Searches in Southeast Asia for ‘Recycle’ are up by 181%, ‘Food Waste’ has risetn 900%, ‘Sustainability’ is up by 400%, as well as the newly-significant term ‘Environment Conservation’ emerging since lockdowns in the region began.

The report finds that people living in Southeast Asia trended higher compared to the rest of the world around concerns for the environment, with 91% worried about air pollution and 84% worried about water quality.  According to the research, “93% of people believe the way we treat our planet now will have a large impact on the future.”

While over half of people globally (69%) are doing everything they can to reduce their carbon footprint, consumers from Southeast Asia are more likely to report this (84%). Although 85% of people see themselves as eco-friendly, almost three-quarters (70%) state they prioritize convenience over the environment.

Globally, research shows consumers across the world are facing this consumption conundrum (46%), with the issue notably higher in Southeast Asia.

Sustainability

Sustainable actions continue to be top of mind for people living in Southeast Asia, said the report. Specifically, 88% are actively trying to reduce the amount of plastic they use and 75% only buy products from brands that make the effort to be eco-friendly, compared to 53% globally.

This is also reflected in what customers of Southeast Asia are searching for on Getty Images, with searches for ‘Recycle’ up by 181%, ‘Food Waste’ up by 900%, ‘Sustainability’ up by 400%, as well as the newly significant term ‘Environment Conservation’ emerging since lockdown began.

Consumers in Southeast Asia also demand greater diversity and inclusion from brands, with 87% stating it’s important that the companies they buy from celebrate the diversity of all kinds.

“The Visual GPS findings present a unique opportunity for brands across Southeast Asia to build stronger relationships with customers and engage with them on the key issues they care about – which is now more important than ever during these unprecedented times,” said Kate Rourke, Getty Images Head of Creative Insights, APAC.

“Our research shows that sustainability is a universal concern across generations, gender, and countries – the opportunity for companies and brands to help consumers bridge the gap between their attitudes and actions is essential when speaking to these issues in authentic visual terms and impacting the potential for positive change.”

Visual GPS identifies the key “Forces” which drive consumer engagement and purchasing behavior: Technology, Sustainability, Realness, and Wellness.

Wellbeing is a key concern for people across Southeast Asia according to the report, with 92% stating they take care of themselves physically, followed closely by 84% stating they take care of themselves emotionally. Their increased desire to celebrate the good in life (87%) has become more prominent in how people in Southeast Asia visualize wellness in their lives.

Customer searches on Getty Images mirror these findings the research found.

Searches for ‘Together’, ‘Joy’, and ‘Wellness’ have increased by 1500%, 900% and 235%, respectively since lockdown, and for Southeast Asia, searches for ‘Home Workout’ and ‘Positive Thinking’ have become newly significant during this time. Companies and brands have the opportunity to focus on visualizing wellness in this new way to further reflect these concepts of celebrating everyday moments.

Consumers in Southeast Asia also demand greater diversity and inclusion from brands, with 87% stating it’s important that the companies they buy from celebrate the diversity of all kinds. 77% also agree that companies and brands need to show people with all body shapes and types. Furthermore, they were almost unanimous in desiring full transparency from brands, with 85% wanting to know what goes on behind the scenes when a product is being produced.

According to Visual GPS research also shows that people living in Southeast Asia rely on technology to help manage their lives and connect with loved ones, with 93% stating that technology makes them feel connected to those who matter most and having a mobile device or phone helps them feel connected to what’s happening in the world.

Although they have concerns around privacy and data risks, as well as the negative impacts technology has on relationships, people across Southeast Asia are more optimistic about the future of technology, with 78% agreeing they are excited about how artificial intelligence could impact their lives in the future, compared to 58% of consumers globally.

For a further overview of the results, visit VisualGPS.com.

Bobby McGill
Bobby is the founder and CEO of Think Content Asia.

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