Agile Brands Ready for International Expansion
    Category: Column By : Nick Foley Read : 897 Date : Tuesday, August 19, 2014 - 07:00:04

    Indonesia is a large country with a substantial population; and now, following sustained economic prosperity Indonesia has a growing middle class of aspirational citizens. This booming consumer-class, armed with increased spending power has led to Indonesia becoming a highly valuable market; in which MNCs and domestic players have achieved great success. The arrival of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) in 2015 suggests that Indonesia’s growth story is set to enter a new phase. Using the AEC as the platform, domestic brands have an opportunity to look to new markets for growth.

    The AEC aims to create a single more competitive market, allowing goods, capital and trade to flow more freely. An open, single market made up of 10 ASEAN countries with a net population of some 600 million consumers is a compelling proposition and Indonesian brands are in a great position to benefit. However, when it comes to assessing new markets, they need to activate a brand strategy with regional flexibility so they can quickly create relevance with new audiences.

    Working along rigid guidelines of consistency is in principle good practice but with local nuances differing widely throughout Southeast Asia, brands cannot assume that domestic success will automatically translate to success abroad.

    If expansion is on the agenda, brands should first review whether their current brand proposition would work in new markets. Without a compelling offer, new markets are hard to penetrate. Understanding the consumer is vital and the trap may be in assuming that Southeast Asian consumers want the same and respond in the same way to brands. Understanding regional loyalties and purchase behaviours is crucial to success.

    For brands that remain content with domestic supremacy, rather than international growth, it is likely they will find standing still is not an option. The AEC will stimulate new and increased competition throughout the region, and overseas competition could well be coming to your market. Brand is a tremendous asset that contributes to the bottom line of any business. There appears to be an increased appetite for overseas expansion, as broadly speaking Asian brands look west. This trend comes at a time when the branding ecosystem is becoming ever more complex. Consumers are becoming more complicated and loyalty is becoming harder to earn. Competition is also coming in new forms and brands are faced with a multitude of new communications channels. As lines become increasingly blurred and rules are rewritten it becomes even more important to have control over your brand so you can communicate with real focus.

    We are now in a new age of agile branding, where brands need to be constructed with flexibility in mind so that they can react swiftly to new opportunities whether home or abroad. Finding the right blend of consistency and flexibility will empower Indonesia’s brands to move with conviction and speed, allowing them to realize new opportunities in this dynamic region and beyond.