As one of Edelman’s Global Fellows from Vietnam, now working in the Chicago office, I have a chance to see how the different cultures of Eastern and Western countries lead to different online behaviors, strategies and approaches. Here are the five major differences and similarities I’ve noticed in digital marketing between East and West cultures.
1. Social Platforms
American online consumers are everywhere. They share photos on Instagram, update news with Twitter, connect with their friends on Facebook, find dates with Tinder, share their DIY projects on Pinterest and capture their moments with YouTube. Each platform has a different group of audiences with different demographic and psychographic characteristics which need to be defined strategically for any communication campaign.
Vietnam is much more focused on Facebook with more than 20 million active users in a country of 96 million people. Therefore, brands in Vietnam are navigating the space to create numerous online contests, engaging branded content to reach consumers and prompt them to take action on the Facebook platform.
2. Deeper Connection with Brands on Social
Consumers in Asia are among the most connected consumers with brands online. They follow them on social media, read advertorials willingly and seek out information about products and services online. In both cultures, connecting with brands is important for consumers but in Asia they seem to more proactively reach out to brands and seek a deeper connection. Whereas consumers in the U.S. tend to avoid commercials and ads as much as possible and only connect with brands for freebies or lifestyle related content.
3. The ROI in Social Media
The past couple of years have seen a social media explosion in Vietnam, and now marketers are asking for the ROI on any social activities. What is the meaning behind the number of likes, shares, talking about and engagement rate? Will the audience eventually click to buy the product after engaging with brands? These questions are examined in both the U.S. and Vietnam markets, but in Vietnam we take more time to explain the value of social media to clients.
4. It’s a Big Time for SOMOLO (Social+Mobile+Location)
In the U.S., my smartphone can easily suggest the nearest store to find my favorite sneaker at a discount price, or order a cab with a simple click to identify my location. Obviously social, mobile and location are three components that cannot be thought of separately, especially in Asia, where younger consumers are almost always online and with a smartphone in hand. According to a 2013 SAP study “The Mobile Consumer,” approximately 46 percent of consumers in Asia Pacific use their mobile for buying goods and services, more than in any other region, including 27 percent in Europe and 17 percent in North America. In both cultures it’s critical for marketers to understand the setting where consumers surf the web on mobile and how they make on-the-go online purchases.
5. The Value of Converged Media
These scenarios seem to happen almost every day. There is an overwhelming amount of content posted, shared and consumed across an ever widening number of channels while the branded content gets lost in the mix. In the U.S. market, the best way to break through the clutter is through paid media to support owned and earned media.
Meanwhile in Vietnam, we are beginning to scratch the surface of paid media and provide clients with the necessary information and case studies to rationalize the use of paid media. Here with the Edelman Digital team in Chicago, I’ve begun to understand the intricacies involved with paid media to understand this information when I return to Vietnam.
Have you worked in two different cultures? What were some of the differences and similarities you experienced?