At the 13th edition of BBDO's Voices event which was held in Mumbai on 26 September, the agency revealed how brands can use the power of purpose to create a 'social currency' across Asia Pacific.
The study which was conducted across India, China, South Korea, Thailand, Japan and the Philippines, revealed that Asian consumers are very responsive to brand purpose.
Consumers in Asia are very responsive to brand purpose
According to the report, 44% of the region likes brands that represent the same values they believe in.
When it came to reasons for their last purchase, 47% bought a brand that makes a positive impact on society or comes from a company with good values. Only 21% bought a brand because it was endorsed by someone famous.
Environment and sustainability
The report revealed that while purpose-driven topics could be different across markets, environment and sustainability play a key role for consumers in five of the six markets surveyed. In India, 31% of the respondents chose this as a topic for brands to champion.
In Japan, this changed to empowering women/equality.
The less developed an economy, the more strongly consumers want brands rooted in purpose
The less robust an economy is (as measured by GDP per capita), the greater people’s desire for brands to contribute to society becomes, according to the report.
65% of the consumers from India and the Philippines stated that they like brands that stand for the good of society or the planet. This was above the average across the six markets surveyed, which was 45%.
However, citizens in India also want brands to make these products affordable so that local communities can thrive.
Situation around LGBTQ advocacy is still nuanced
While brands in Thailand embrace LGBTQ openness, India and the Philippines come across as 'passive supporters'. In India and the Philippines, consumers felt that brands needed to advocate for it actively.
Future of brands and marketing
At the event, the agency also revealed what these trends will mean for the future of brands and marketing:
Climate change will likely speed up the importance of brand purpose: As the effects of global warming intensify, more consumers will look to brands to embrace a sense of urgency and be part of the solution rather than the problem. When this happens, brand purpose will significantly impact brand and customer relations much more than now.
Brand purpose will become 'De Rigueur' for marketers as Gen Z Asian consumers grow: While traditional mindsets and narratives still persist in the region, those under 25 demonstrate progressive voices on issues like LGBT+ acceptance and advocacy. They will expect brands to be their voice, and brands that do not stand for a social purpose will lose social currency.
Brands to have the same accountability as quasi-government bodies: This is especially true in the developing regions of Asia where citizens already expect brands to step up and fill gaps which public governance systems often cannot. So consumers there will continue to expect brands to embrace the same agenda as governments.
Brand purpose in Asia will have Asian characteristics: A brand’s purpose – to be relevant to the region’s consumers – will always need to be rooted in what the product or service is supposed to functionally deliver. It also needs to be supplemented by rational/functional content along the customer journey.