Is Personalization More Challenging in Asia-Pacific than in the US?
General Manager, Asia-Pacific
Vice President, Global Marketing
After bracing for a significant push into Asia-Pacific, executives at personalization technology provider Dynamic Yield uncovered why marketers in Asia must approach personalization differently than they do in the Western world. eMarketer’s David Green spoke with Ander Orcasitas, Dynamic Yield’s general manager for Asia-Pacific, and Mukund Ramachandran, the company’s vice president of global marketing, about the challenges brands face when creating a personalized experience for consumers in key markets in Asia.
eMarketer: Do marketers in the US and Asia approach personalization differently?
Ander Orcasitas: The US is a few years ahead of Asia in general—it’s more like eight years ahead of Southeast Asia. The only player in China doing a high level of personalization right now is Alibaba.
The main difference between the US and Asia is that Southeast Asia and China are mobile-first. We always go with our native app solution first for clients in India, Indonesia and China. Whereas in the US, most retailers don’t have apps. In Southeast Asia and China, everyone—even small mom and pop shops—has apps or is thinking of releasing apps. This is a cornerstone of how we approach personalization in Southeast Asia.
eMarketer: What is the key difference in the way marketers personalize the customer experience in Asia compared with the US and even Europe?
Orcasitas: Asia is a much more extreme market in that there are many different types of users in a single country. In Indonesia, there are extreme differences between the iPhone user in Jakarta and the low-screen-resolution Android user in Bandung who is several hours away from Jakarta—the same applies to users in China to a lesser extent.
The Android user in Bandung is not used to reading so much on their phone’s screen. They like different color patterns and straightforward explanations and big signs for discounts or sales. To keep the iPhone user in Jakarta engaged, you have to be much more aspirational, show less discounts and show more new and fashionable items.
“Asia is a much more extreme market in that there are many different types of users in a single country.”
Mukund Ramachandran: The core promise of a personalization platform like ours is not to presuppose the answers. Different users behave differently based on the conditions, the market, the device and the context of the user. Saying “this is the right way to do this” in a particular market or on a particular device is a flawed way of thinking. Your site experience is your baseline. Run experiments that drive the desired KPI [key performance indicator] and outcome that you want your consumers to take.
eMarketer: Are the movements toward better personalization and improvements in personalization technology reigniting demand for brands to build their own platforms rather than just piggyback on marketplaces like Tmall?
Orcasitas: There is a wave of brands trying to build their proprietary sales channel while using Tmall stores at the same time. For example, LVMH [LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton] has mandated that all of their brands have their own website and a share of sales needs to come from that proprietary site. Of course, the vast majority of traffic and sales come from Tmall or Taobao, which offer lower-end prices. But personalization technology will further empower retailers [to improve their own websites].
eMarketer: Is the same true in India, where ecommerce growth is expected to come from lower-tier cities?
Orcasitas: The Indian ecosystem is following the ecosystem in the US more than the one in China. The way Flipkart, Amazon and now Paytm and the vertical ecommerce companies operate is more like the US. Many of the brands building their own dot-com in India prefer to sacrifice volume and sales to build a brand. The main difference is they don’t want to sell on marketplaces.
“Many of the brands building their own dot-com in India prefer to sacrifice volume and sales to build a brand.”
eMarketer: Is there also presumably an opportunity to augment brick-and-mortar offerings through improved personalization technology, especially given the maturity of the online-to-offline ecosystem in China?
Orcasitas: When you use different [shopping channels] in China, you don’t have a unique ID. Retailers don’t know exactly where customers are in the purchase funnel, how they can cross-sell to them and how they can integrate them more into that ecosystem.
Offline is just one piece of the puzzle—the key piece is to have one unique ID per user. Then you can track users not only across touchpoints like online and offline, but across domains and services as well. The reason Baidu invested in us is because even though they have many domains, they are not yet unified.