Influencer Marketing in Asia – What You Need to Know

More consumers turn to social media and online personalities with large followings to keep up-to-date with trends. For many advertisers, influencer marketing is still untouched territory. Let’s share with you some of our insights and recommendations from working with influencers in Asia-Pacific (APAC).

What is influencer marketing?
Social influencers consolidate a large online followership and enjoy a high level of trust among their followers. Particularly millennials, the generation born between 1980 and the early 2000s who grew up in an online world, as well as other internet-savvy consumers turn to social media and content platforms for information. Before the rise of social media, it used to be mainly celebrities like movie stars or fashion models who were hired by marketers as brand ambassadors for their advertising campaigns. Today’s social influencers are more diverse. They are opinionated trend scouts with a passion for topics that resonate with a large audience. Topics are as diverse as the influencers’ personalities themselves. They range from travel over fashion to lifestyle, cooking and baking, tech or gaming.

One of the most popular influencers in Singapore is Andrea (“Drea”) Chong. The elegant and charismatic Singaporean blogs and posts about fashion, lifestyle and travel, and attracts around 84,000 page views per month. Her minimalistic styles appeals to both genders – 70% of her audience is aged between 18-34 – and she counts well-known brand names like Sony, Victoria’s Secret or fashion giant H&M among her clients. What makes influencers like Drea so appealing to their followers is their ability to translate their passion into charismatic video recordings or eloquent and informative writing supported by professional or professional looking photography.

A new native channel for advertisers
Social influencers carry influence over their followers, not only in their opinion but often also their purchasing decisions. As opinion leaders they review products, give their feedback on hotels or they may be early adopters of new technologies. They are not only able to bring new products and services to the attention of their followers, creating public awareness and buzz, but also assert a positive influence on brand image and trust.

The reason why social influencer marketing can be a powerful solution for advertisers is that it allows them to engage with their customers in a more native advertising format than direct marketing messages. Influencers talk about brands in their own language, use their unique style and give personal reviews and opinions. This adds value and creates a more authentic
experience for consumers as social influencers inform and entertain their audience.

A positive product review from a key opinion leader can move a brand into the limelight and boost sales among followers and their friends. One example is an initiative by retail brand Lord & Taylor in 2015, who partnered with 50 social influencers. All of these influencers posted pictures of themselves on Instagram wearing the same Lord & Taylor dress that launched the brand’s Design Lab collection. The dress sold out within days. Some influencer posts generated over 13,000 Likes, as AdWeek reported in an interview with Lord & Taylor CMO Michael Crotty.

Cost-efficient Opportunities in Emerging Markets
Emerging markets offer excellent opportunities Social influencers are popular across all countries in APAC, but their charges vary widely. Often prices are directly related to the number of online followers, but another commanding factor is the maturity of the market in which influencers are active. Aforementioned Drea’s popularity allows her to charge a premium for her engagement in Singapore, which has a well-developed influencer community: advertisers can book an Instagram picture for USD 1,530, a blog post for USD 1,043 and a 15 seconds video for USD 1,739, placing Drea at the top end of the price scale. At the other end are influencers in emerging markets, like Jakarta-based Deluxshionist. The Indonesian fashion and lifestyle blogger who started his blog about four years ago, today counts almost 50,000 female and male visitors per month, 75% of which are aged between 20-35 years. He has worked with well-known global brands like Dolce & Gabbana, Asus and Nivea Men. Deluxshionist’s rates start from USD 500 for a blog and USD 50 for an Instagram picture. We expect to see a strong growth in the influencer community and as a result in influencer marketing, particularly in Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand, the Philippines and Malaysia.

As household incomes and mobile handset and internet penetration grow further in the next years a growing number of consumers gain access to content online. Simultaneously, the spending power is increasingly there to buy the brands that their favorite blogger is talking about. This generates excellent opportunities for advertisers to generate a high return on their investment and to be among the leading brands that reach their audience via a social influencer endorsement.

Relationship is Everything
Working with influencers requires you to build and maintain good relationships with them. Advertisers need to understand that they do not engage influencers as spokesperson for a brand to publish a predefined text. Influencers want to give any communication their own twist to protect their reputation. This makes the message more authentic but might also lead to disagreement between advertiser and influencer.

At Leverate we know which influencers best match your brand identity with their style and have the right followership. We recommend and approach suitable partners for you and develop an influencer marketing strategy that is in line with your marketing plan and goals. We give influencers the creative freedom they need, while agreeing on a campaign that fits both parties. Not all influencers work across all channels. Some focus on blogging, while others may be active exclusively on YouTube or Instagram. We help you explore the best option to achieve your goals and guide you through channels which you might never have worked with and are unsure whether they can generate the right return for your brand.

This blog post is an adapted version of an article that featured in Leverate Media’s company magazine ‘Leverate ONE‘.