Marketing in Indonesia: Teen Fads Ebb and Flow Based on Online Trends - eMarketer
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Marketing in Indonesia: Teen Fads Ebb and Flow Based on Online Trends

January 31, 2017

Ghani Kunto
Business Development Director
IlmuOne Data

Ghani Kunto, business development director, IlmuOne Data, has observed the digital lifestyles of teens in Indonesia—a country that is itself “going through puberty, still trying to find its identity,” he said. eMarketer’s Dustin Sodano spoke with Kunto about how internet access and social media affect the behaviors of teens in Indonesia. At the time he was interviewed, Kunto was founder and director of Indonesia-based market research firm Empathic Marketing. He has since taken a new role.

eMarketer: How are teenagers in Indonesia using social media?

Ghani Kunto: Everything is on their phones, but there are many different apps. A lot of big brands are asking, “What’s the next big thing? Should we go with Line, KakaoTalk or Snapchat?” The reality is that young people use all of them, but for specific activities. Every app has its own purpose and its own unwritten rules.

For example, teens take pictures of food, but they don’t post them on Instagram because [they think] that’s narcissistic. They post them on Path.

Right now, most teens use Line as their main messaging app. But at 20- to 24-years-old, they drop Line and start using WhatsApp. The main reason is simply because their professors at university use WhatsApp. They decide to use WhatsApp because their lives revolve more around work and study.

“People will follow anyone famous, but influencers are specific to their interests.”

eMarketer: How are brands using social media to advertise in Indonesia?

Kunto: There are so many Indonesians online that brands expect to get [big] numbers. They buy “likes,” but also try to grow organically. Influencer marketing is also starting to take off here. From our experience, the most effective thing on Instagram is not ads yet—it’s influencer marketing, but you have to engage the influencer. People will follow anyone famous, but influencers are specific to their interests.

Some smaller companies use Facebook ads without having an online store. The call to action is a phone call. There’s also a lag in people figuring out ecommerce. A customer of one of our fashion ecommerce brands ordered a watch. She then contacted the company via WhatsApp to ask, “Is the watch available? What colors are available? Can I see the watch?” But she had already ordered it. The company sent a photo via WhatsApp, and that’s where the transaction happened.

eMarketer: Are teens in Indonesia comfortable with English? How does the internet affect language?

Kunto: They do learn English in school, but mostly they learn it from YouTube. It’s YouTube English. It’s colloquial and a lot of the time, it’s American English. If you’re targeting middle-class teens in Jakarta, you’ll be fine using English. You see billboards here with grammatically incorrect English, but it doesn’t matter because it’s not written for English speakers. It’s written for people with limited knowledge of English.

“The biggest opportunities for growth are outside of urban areas, so if you want to grow, you need to localize.”

If you’re targeting teens outside of urban areas, you need to use the local language and, if possible, go the extra mile and use the dialect. That’s what local companies do. The biggest opportunities for growth are outside of urban areas, so if you want to grow, you need to localize.

eMarketer: Are there other differences between teens in urban and rural areas?

Kunto: The gap is less about urban vs. rural, but more about how good of an internet connection there is. Without the internet, you’re influenced by whoever is next to you—your neighbor or your local leader. But if you have an internet connection, your world is not just what you see every day.

Geographic area doesn’t necessarily separate [young people in Indonesia]. If I like K-pop [Korean pop music, which is characterized by audiovisual elements], I have more similarities with somebody from Saudi Arabia who likes K-pop than I do with my neighbor.

eMarketer: How big of a role does religion play in teens’ decisions?

Kunto: Teens are looking for an identity. A lot of girls don’t wear hijabs for religious reasons, even though that’s what they might say. It’s for fashion. Some people wear hijabs with tight jeans or tank tops. There’s a group of people who are exposed to different things and try them. [There are teens thinking,] “I like K-pop, I’ll wear makeup like K-pop artists, but at the same time, I’ll wear a hijab and pray five times a day.”

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