Mobile Landscape in Southeast Asia

Published on
April 11, 2023

All forecasts are showing the same thing. Southeast Asia will be the fastest growing region in the world. With countries such as Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam or again Singapore, all studies are showing that its internet economy will reach more than US$100 billion by 2025.

So what makes this region so specific?

First of all, this is a region where mobile consumption is very heavy. Indeed, we are talking about mobile first or mobile only markets.

Smartphones are affordable, network speed has increased, and the cost of mobile data became affordable for the emerging middle class.

Then, when we look at what Southeast Asian consumers are doing on mobile, we can see that they spend the majority of their time on social media. According to a study made by Apptopia, the apps that users are spending the most time on are actually WhatsApp and Facebook.

Beyond social media, mobile users in this region are also increasingly relying on mobile to fulfil their lifestyle needs, specifically in the areas of commerce, entertainment, food, travel but also transportation.  Indeed, apps such as Lazada, Foodpanda, Grab or again Gojek have observed amazing growth rates in terms of app downloads and app usage.

Finally, brands in Southeast Asia should not underestimate the power of community.

The amount of time people are spending on social media signals to brands that they must have a social media presence in order to reach their target audience.

More interestingly, the heavy usage of social media has resulted in trends that are quite specific to the region. While e-commerce marketplaces are popular, the reliance on social media channels has made it a natural progression for sellers and brands, to sell through social networks like Facebook and Instagram.

As a consequence, social media channels themselves are now offering features that enable them to function like a shopping mall.

With millions of potential customers on social media platforms, brands now have the option to leverage on them as alternative sales channels. In making the shopping journey more seamless, brands have also started to enable purchases straight from their social media pages. By enabling customers to shop directly via the “Shop” feature on their Facebook and Instagram pages, brands can essentially remove another layer between them and the consumers.

As we can see, Southeast Asia is becoming a new land of e-commerce opportunities. This is a great opportunity for advertisers as well as for the ad tech industry. From social media to open internet, brands currently have an opportunity to tap into a digital-first economy.

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