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All eyes are in China as the country’s economy starts to slow down after a decades of rapid growth. This precarious state is a concern for the Western companies that have thrived, or wish to enter into, the region. They all seek the sure formula to win in Asia Pacific.

In a recent webinar, Scott Lee, Managing Director of ABN Impact Hong Kong, and Peter Harris, managing director and executive vice president of Vision Critical–APAC, shared their expertise about Asia Pacific and revealed ways Western companies can successfully expand into the complicated market.

Here’s a recap of their top three tips for global brands that want to forge a more meaningful relationship with Asian customers.

  1. Consider the diversity in the region.

Geography, culture, religion, language and economic development all vary hugely across Asia Pacific. Unfortunately, companies outside the region greatly underestimate the subtle differences that exist. A more nuanced understanding of each country in the region is needed. Lee says companies need to abandon a one-size-fits-all approach and consider a multi-country, multi-language one instead.

  1. Leverage online technology.

Many Western countries assume that Asian consumers are not online. That’s a dangerous assumption, says Lee. Internet penetration in Korea is 92 percent. In Singapore, it’s 80 percent and in Hong Kong 81 percent. Places like China (47 percent), Thailand (30 percent) and Indonesia (28 percent) are much lower, but for most markets, the coverage is just fine.

China has 642 million Internet users. That’s twice the size of the whole population of the US. Indonesia has 71 million users—bigger than the UK’s population. Similarly, when you look at social media, there are 51 million Facebook users in Indonesia.

Companies should not dismiss online technologies if they want to get closer to customers in the region. In particular, customer intelligence tools that utilize mobile technology enable companies to take advantage of the wide adoption of smart and feature phones in the region.

  1. Build a long-term relationship with customers.

 Harris says that, in order to get a complete picture of customer behavior, companies can’t rely on just social media monitoring, big data or CRM systems. Traditional ad hoc research is problematic as well. In fact, given the diversity of the region, ad hoc methodologies face more hurdles as they don’t capture important nuances in different countries. Companies need to create and maintain what Harris calls “insight cycles”: a process of engaging with customers and sharing information about the actions that the company has taken. By closing the feedback loop, companies engage in a two-way conversation with customers and build a relationship as a result. Harris adds that companies using insight communities—online, private and proprietary customer communities that companies use to engage with customers—better know their customers and and can ask more focused and specific questions. Global brands like Singtel and Cathay Pacific are already using insight communities in this way.


Although China’s economy is starting to slow down, Asia Pacific still represents one of the most exciting markets in the world. With the rise of the middle class in this region, Western companies that develop a complete and accurate understanding of customers are more likely to succeed and see continued growth.

Watch Going Global: How to Make a Meaningful Connection with Customers in Asia Pacific to hear more tips about thriving in this part of the world.

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Kelvin Claveria

Kelvin Claveria was the former Content Marketing Manager and was responsible for Vision Critical's blog and social media marketing program. Before joining Vision Critical's global marketing team, Kelvin worked at Dunn PR, a Vancouver-based public relations firm. His experience includes working with lifestyle, real estate, and non-profit clients to develop social media marketing and PR strategies. Kelvin has a Bachelor of Business Administration from SFU's Beedie School of Business.
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