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Friday, July 8, 2011

How to reach Indonesia's digital consumers

How to reach Indonesia's digital consumers

Low Lai Chow

How does one make sense of the fact that internet access through cafés in Indonesia declined from 83% in 2009 to 64% in 2010?

At ad:tech Singapore 2011, Danny Oei Wirianto, Chief Marketing Officer of Indonesian online community Kaskus Networks, had an explanation: Indonesians love the web so much, they've simply pocketed it along with their mobile devices.

For Indonesian netizens, the personal computer isn't a computer, it is a smartphone.

So engrained is the digital habit that they "don't realise (that) they connect with the Internet", said Wirianto.

Wirianto even went as far as to declare that Indonesian consumers' love affair with their BlackBerry handsets (the popularity of which has driven mobile web usage) have single-handedly kept its parent company alive.

Indonesia has 37.9 million users on Facebook – though "surprisingly [it] doesn't have an office [there]" – second only to the United States. A comScore report released last August recognised Indonesia as the world's most Twitter-addicted nation, with the highest score of 20.8% of home and work internet audience accessing Twitter in the month of June 2010.

The rise of the everyday geeks

In the 1990s, as the internet radically reshaped the world, Indonesia was going through a transition of its own: democracy. The timing was perfect.

"We use it for freedom to speak," said Wirianto. "Normally we don't have a chance to speak properly or even to voice our opinion, the truth."

Today, more than half of Indonesian journalists have a Twitter account and obtain their news stories from the internet. There is another reason for this. Pointing to Indonesia's geographical make-up as the world's largest archipelago (over 17,000 islands), Wirianto said, "We have a hard time sometimes finding out what's going on, because we are islanders. We have so many islands across Indonesia. It is hard to get that information across the nation. So we use digital and the Internet to gather all the information that is possible. Everybody is tweeting about what they see."

Wirianto defined five attributes of Indonesian digital consumers for brands looking to connect with them:

1. Curious: "We are very curious. We're like a sponge. We are hungry for information. Everything that is information that we can find, we'll look. Google helps us so much. The first thing we do is type and find it in a search engine."

What this means for businesses: Intrigue your consumers. Offer information readily. If 'dirt' about your business is floating in cyberspace, address it. Chances are, the Indonesian consumer will find that dirt.

2. Wants to be entertained: "You know why Facebook is going up so [quickly] in Indonesia? It's not because they're connected. It's the free games there. Because we like some things free, and we entertain ourselves."

What this means for businesses
: Wirianto stressed the need for brands to spice things up. "When you create a campaign, you'd better try to entertain them."

3. Lazy and likes ease of use: "We are so lazy, we don't even type '' on our mobile, all we do is just click a button to go to Facebook."

What this means for businesses: "Think about making it as easy as possible if you want to penetrate the Indonesian market."

4. Wants to be heard: "We like to chat. We like to talk. BlackBerry has survived because of Indonesians. Without the Indonesian market, I don't think they could survive. Why? Because Indonesians love BlackBerry Messenger."

What this means for businesses: Consider a platform for them to discuss your brand. "Give something for them to speak about your brand, your product. They will talk about you."

5. Thinks about what they can gain: "We like something free. If you give something free, we're all there, no matter who you are in Indonesia."

What this means for businesses: Evaluate the 'carrot' your business is willing to give to consumers. "Is it information? Is it the content? Is it the game? Will you give it to them?"

6. Likes to flock and be in groups: "There are Yahoo! mailing list groups, and the BlackBerry has groups (a function on its BlackBerry Messenger) - that's why we love them."

What this means for businesses: Community is the buzzword here. Think about providing group-friendly tools that allow consumers to gather.

Love for sharing and all things social aside, Wirianto also observes a shift in behaviour among Indonesian digital consumers regarding their need for speed. Wirianto said it was imperative for businesses to deliver information fast as Indonesian consumers are brutally unforgiving of inefficiency.

"We don't want to wait for information. If your site takes about a minute or two minutes to download, we are out of there. We are not going to be visiting your site."

Social commerce, meet e-commerce

While consumer power is at a high as the Indonesia economy picks up, fears about seller fraud persist. The consumers don't quite trust the sellers. The sweet spot for an online transaction, according to Wirianto, is between ten dollars and fifty dollars. "Anything above that, we will feel afraid to use e-commerce. If we lose ten dollars, fifty dollars, we don't care." Offline interaction is especially important when it comes to delivery and communication about the product.

Indonesian consumers are also more influenced by online reviews compared to their Asia-Pacific counterparts. According to a Nielson survey, 45% of Indonesian consumers will not buy electronic products without consulting online reviews, compared to 41% of total Asia-Pacific respondents.

The survey also showed how "digital becomes the influencer" for many Indonesians with their strong reliance on online sources for making purchase decisions. This can be seen in their ranked trusted sources of recommendations. Family ranks first with 70%, while friends come in second with 67%. The third (online product reviews: 29%), fourth (discussion forums: 26%), fifth (product websites: 17%) and sixth (social media sites: 14%), though, are all situated online.

Wirianto theorises that smart Indonesian consumers are cutting through marketing pitches and watching their own backs by conducting careful research online.

"Everyone is saying, 'We are the cheapest'. So we don't have a clue on which one is the best, except when we know it from our friends, or except when we know it from Twitter."

Digital savvy may be the factor behind Indonesian consumers' readiness to make online purchases: according to the Nielsen survey, 49% of female Indonesian consumers intend to purchase clothing online in the next six months while 34% of male Indonesian consumers intend to purchase books online in the next six months.

The e-commerce scene in Indonesia is currently dominated by SMEs, which make up about 90% of the market and operate compactly without stores or portal sites. Instead, these SMEs are on Facebook, have a mailing group and BlackBerries to communicate with customers.

Yet this e-commerce market is huge: Wirianto estimated that about US$320 million of transactions are going through the Kaskus site alone.

Notorious for suffering from "time-deficit disorder", Indonesian consumers can be tough to reach out to. Wirianto therefore advises businesses looking at social commerce in Indonesia to:

1. Focus on the three Cs of connection, conversation, and conversion: "When brands campaign on our site, most of them try to talk first. They try to force it onto people. But I think it's very simple. You have to listen first. You don't know what people say about you, about your brand. So if you don't listen to the conversation, you don't monitor the conversation, it doesn't get through."

2. Engage with presence: "It's how you create an experience instead of selling products or services. The people going online are not dumb. If you go online in Indonesia, you have to pay attention on the forums and social media."

3. Accept the consumers are in control: "Most brands in Indonesia think that if their company has money, they can control the media and what people think. Not any more. It's switched to become consumer-controlled. Consumers control what they want to say, what they want to hear."

4. Go to the community instead of building one: "If you are a brand manager, you'll try to build a community… it's just useless. You cannot buy people to make a community for you. But you can pinpoint which community you want to go to and provide tools for your brand."

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