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Here are six trends set to influence Southeast Asia’s marketing landscape in 2024

Southeast Asia’s digital economy hit approximately USD 100 billion in revenue at the end of 2023, despite global headwinds, according to research from Temasek, Google, and Bain.

SEE ALSO: APAC consumer trends: Social commerce, pre-loved fashion set to shine

The figure shows a jump in digital consumers across the region, leading to an elevation in customer expectations when it comes to brand interactions and engagement.

However, according to data acquired by sales and marketing software company, HubSpot, there is a disconnection between brands and consumers today.  In Singapore, nearly 90 percent of business leaders found it harder to reach prospective consumers in 2023, while more than 80 percent said they are dealing with slowing growth, with previously effective strategies showing declining returns.

“The dynamic nature of the marketing space is constantly challenging marketers to stay informed, adaptable, and open to embracing new strategies and technologies,” said Kat Warboys, marketing director APAC at HubSpot.

“As 2024 beckons, the most successful marketers will be those able to keep pace, or even stay ahead, with these trends, incorporating the right technologies and channels into their strategies to target and reach the right customers in today’s digital-first economy.”

Looking at the latest findings from HubSpot, here is an overview of the key trends that marketers in Southeast Asia need to know for successful customer engagement and sales execution in 2024.

1. AI becoming the ultimate marketing assistant

AI’s popularity is expected to continue in 2024 within SEA, where the region’s companies invested 67 percent more in AI and machine learning (ML) in 2023 than the previous year, according to a report from Dataiku.

Marketers in SEA are increasingly viewing AI as an assistant that augments their ability to better manage day-to-day tasks, according to HubSpot, particularly for generative AI applications, which helps marketers develop efficient, quality, and personalised content that resonates better with audiences.

Another leading use case for AI is automating labour-intensive work. In 2023, marketers spent an average of five hours a day on low-impact tasks such as keyword research, data cleanup, formatting content, reporting and analytics, digital asset management, file tagging, and file naming, according to HubSpot,

Automating these via Generative AI tools frees up marketers to focus on more meaningful work like project execution and creative brainstorming, while providing data-backed insights needed to connect with customers, and solve complex customer challenges. However, significant barriers to adoption remain, with 35 percent of Singapore marketers facing challenges of not knowing how or where to begin with generative AI tools, highlighting the need for training, according to a HubSpot study. Other common concerns involve the potential of AI-generated content to harm brand reputation due to plagiarism or misalignment with brand values.

“We expect these concerns to be overcome as companies hire AI implementation experts, marketers become more comfortable using AI, and as AI tools strengthen fact-checking capabilities,” said Warboys.

“Part of these efforts are expected to be led by the government. For instance, Singapore recently unveiled its updated National AI Strategy, a blueprint for the country that focuses on preparing the economy to embrace and utilise AI, with other major SEA economies also having similar initiatives in place.”

2. Social commerce to register outsized gains

Southeast Asia social media users spend approximately three hours each day on social media platforms, exceeding the global average by about 35 minutes, according to marketing firm GWI.

As a result, marketers in SEA need to use social media platforms to reach customers and potential customers, and elevate social commerce to become the best performing marketing channel in terms of ROI, according to HubSpot.

Into 2024, this trend is expected to continue, with the most growth coming to marketers who invest heavily into influencer partnerships, and social selling tools, while offering customer service through direct messages on social platforms to create seamless in-app shopping experiences.

Kat Warboys – Source: HubSpot

3. Short-form video to reign supreme

Short-form video content will continue its dominance 2024.

According to HubSpot, video-centric platforms like TikTok, Instagram, and YouTube will register the most growth this year, with social media videos contributing significantly to online discovery, and offering the highest ROI when it comes to social media marketing, making them a necessary tool in the region’s digital-first economy.

4. Influencers positively impacting purchase decisions

More than half of Southeast Asians follow influencers on social media, according to Milieu Insight, with 82 percent of residents in SEA admitting their purchasing decisions were being influenced by recommendations from influencers or celebrities, according to a Cube Asis survey.

Influencer content can aid significantly with brand awareness, keeping customers and prospective customers familiar with your brand, according to HubSpot.

In 2024, marketers in SEA will continue to collaborate with influencers, with micro-influencers likely to be the most popular, due to their rate being cheaper, and their tight-knit, engaged, and loyal communities, help a brand’s to connect digitally with their market.

5. Social media and first-party data are key

Marketers in SEA will turn to social media targeting and first-party data to reach their audience in response to Google’s third-party cookie phaseout, according to HubSpot.

In 2024, marketers need to explore alternatives to third-party cookies, with social media targeting and first-party data set to become the most popular solutions. Complemented by AI content development capabilities, first-party data will also help marketers create personalised content tailored to their target audience, improving the customer experience, relevance, and potential conversion rates, added the research firm.

6. A single source of truth will be essential for marketers

Teams often use disparate platforms in their work that do not integrate well with each other, leading to siloed data and workflows and the sharing of information and collaboration across teams difficult, leading to disconnection between marketers and their customers.

In 2024, marketers will increasingly work towards integrating data with tools such as Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platforms, enabling them to collect, store, and manage customer data.

Creating a single source of “truth” helps boost alignment and collaboration, forecast future sales, and automate marketing and sales processes. Marketers with connected tools and data, especially when augmented by AI capabilities, are more likely to be strongly aligned with their sales team and customers, and achieve their marketing goals.