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Black Friday and Cyber Monday (BFCM) weekend—is one of the (if not the) most highly-anticipated ecommerce events of the year, especially in Western countries. In recent years, the BFCM hype has successfully infiltrated the Asian market.
Some Asian brands with global markets have started riding the BFCM high to cater to Western consumers. While Western brands have recognized Asian consumers’ buying power and are focusing on breaking into the market.
With BFCM 2022 coming up in a few weeks, it’s time to look into how it will impact the Asian ecommerce industry in the near future.
Ecommerce in Asia: A quick overview
Asia is now touted as the largest ecommerce market in the world. In fact, over 50% of ecommerce sales came from the Asia-Pacific region in 2020. This 2022, it is predicted that ecommerce sales in Southeast Asia alone will reach $89.67 billion.
As the Asian region continues to develop, more consumers will gain purchasing power. As a result, more businesses are now seeing opportunities in this lucrative market.
Even Shopify has increased its activity in Asia by upgrading its Shopify Plus Partner program into Southeast Asia to help brands grow and scale in the region. They also launched Shopify Markets which is generally a good initiative for brands in general, but it definitely makes entry into Asia a lot easier for existing merchants.
As connectivity becomes more of a priority and a part of everyday life, the number of online shoppers in Asia is predicted to skyrocket to 3.1 billion by 2025.
This means two things:
If you haven’t yet, you better start including plans to enter the Asian market soon.
If you’ve already entered the Asian market, it’s time to equip your ecommerce brand with strategies to stay on top of your existing competition plus other brands that are already planning their entry into the market.
Experts’ insights on how BFCM will fare in the Asian market
Does BFCM have a place in the Asian market? How will Asian shoppers treat BFCM? Is it worth it for ecommerce brands to conduct BFCM sales in Asia?
Experts from our network of partners weigh in and share their insights. Here are three major highlights of what ecommerce brands can expect from the Asian market.
Asia is no stranger to Mega Sale events
The truth is, Asia already has its fair share of mega sales events. There’s the monthly 1.1, 2.2, and even all the way up to 12.12—and these events generate quite the revenue.
China, for example, has its annual Singles’ Day (November 11)—now tagged as the world’s biggest shopping event. Here are some numbers to emphasize how big this event is compared to BFCM:
- Last 2021, Singles’ Day exceeded $139 billion in sales.
- Black Friday 2021 generated $8.9 billion.
- Cyber Monday 2021 logged $10.7 billion.
Desmond Ng, Founder, and Director of Optimization Solutions emphasized that Asian shoppers can’t resist a good discount so BFCM may definitely be an avenue to get more eyeballs—for brands attempting to enter the Asian market.
“In the Asian context, we do not lack sales events. However, if BFCM is positioned as something more ‘Western’, then lesser-known Western brands trying to tap into Asia could make their debut around this time to stand out from already-known brands.” - Desmond Ng, Founder & Director, Optimization Solutions
While businesses won’t find it difficult to entice Asian consumers with discounts, the challenge will lie in how they plan to do this.
Resistance to Western norms can be expected
We all know that Asia’s population is huge, showing the potential scale of the untapped market. However, in terms of ecommerce logistics and implementation, Asian countries are slightly lagging behind Western nations.
It’s a work in progress, though.
Dustin Chikeev, Growave’s Content Manager expounds on this: “As investment in infrastructure accumulates in these nations, deliveries and the internet will become more accessible. We will definitely see an increase in overall market penetration.”
In short, once the Asian market becomes used to these methods and systems, there will be a significant rise in businesses running ecommerce functions.
The same is true when it comes to how the Asian market will eventually perceive BFCM. There might be some raised eyebrows at the beginning. But since BFCM is highly engaging, it draws people’s attention and attention means brand awareness.
“We can expect some resistance to Western norms like BFCM. Objectively speaking, it is a mutually beneficial event for customers and businesses. We can expect the prevalence of special events like these to gain traction along with the expansion of the industry.” - Dustin Chikeev, Content Manager, Growave
Dustin even floats the idea that BFCM will survive in spirit and as a concept, but it might be rebranded as an entirely separate event depending on what works best for the Asian market.
Murat Kaya, Growth Marketing and Partnerships of Shopney explains that consumers will get used to BFCM year after year and this will help them adopt it better. Eventually, the impact will get bigger and wider—but as of this moment, it is, as mentioned earlier, still a work in progress.
The Asian consumer holds the power to the future of ecommerce
Zion Market Research forecasts the worldwide cross-border ecommerce market to be worth more than $4 billion by 2027 with a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 28.4%. This shows that global ecommerce brands have plenty of room to widen their market and expand their reach—and Asia seems to be the lucrative choice.
“In the last decade, Asia gained a consumer economy identity with accumulated wealth and an increasing middle class.” - Murat Kaya, Growth Marketing and Partnerships, Shopney
With the Asian market now exposed as a highly profitable one, ecommerce brands looking to make it big in this region must understand the diversity and the characteristics of this market.
A report from the McKinsey Global Institute shares that “digital natives” born between 1980 and 2012 account for over one-third of Asia’s population consumption. This means that ecommerce brands must be able to cater to their ever-evolving preferences.
For example, here’s a quick look at the observed trends and shifts in Asian consumer behavior:
- Increasing concern about sustainability and climate change. Asian consumers are more willing to pay for sustainable and alternative products.
- Asian brands are on the rise. Local players are starting to account for the majority of sales in some product categories.
- Preference for personalization. Asian consumers display a willingness to share their data in exchange for hyper-personalized experiences. The challenge lies in how brands can outdo one another in delivering the experiences the consumers crave for.
What will it take for a brand to stand out during BFCM in Asia?
Given that BFCM might eventually be a part of the Asian ecommerce landscape, how can brands cement their success? Our experts offer concrete advice.
Invest in more User-Generated Content (UGC)
Much has already been said about the proven benefits of UGC. And while investing in UGC is a viable strategy for ecommerce brands everywhere, brands looking to disrupt the Asian market should double down.
Himanshu Kaushik, Co-Founder, and COO of Wigzo Technologies explain that UGC just hits differently for Asian consumers.
“One of the most distinguishing characteristics of Asian customers is their collectivist mindset, tagging friends when they think the product can be helpful to them. As a result, user-generated content (UGC) will play a critical role in increasing customer engagement, building trust, and increasing sales.” - Himanshu Kaushik, Co-Founder, and COO of Wigzo Technologies
To maximize the effect of UGC, ecommerce brands might want to implement a referral program to facilitate the continuous circulation of UGC.
Referral Candy’s Partner Success Manager, Keryn Arahan recommends brands double down on promoting their referral program before BFCM and even during the event.
“Continue promoting your referral program through several channels before and during the sale season to encourage customers to refer friends and family to the stores they love.” - Keryn Arahan, Partner Success Manager, Referral Candy
This will serve as a win-win strategy. As more consumers produce UGC and refer their audience to specific stores, ecommerce brands will enjoy the influx of traffic and engagement.
Non-Asian brands need to localize their marketing approach
Desmond Ng shares that a lot of product information is required especially if it’s a Western brand making its debut. However, Asian consumers don’t really like to read long passages, so short and concise marketing messages is the way to go.
Shopney’s Murat Kaya adds that while the price is a logical factor, most Asian consumers don’t solely base their decision on whether a product is cheaper. “The ‘need over want’ understanding plays a big role,” he explains.
Omnichannel is key to success
Brands looking to make a name for themselves in the Asian ecommerce market should come prepared. “From managing inventory to handling traffic surges, ecommerce brands need to be ready beforehand to offer a seamless consumer experience,” says Himanshu, Wigzo’s founder.
One surefire way to offer a seamless experience is by deploying an effective omnichannel strategy—not just for your marketing approach but also for your customer support team. The importance of being present where your consumers are at the time that they need you—this is what will make your brand stand out.
Aside from being omnipresent on various platforms, a mobile app is also a modern solution. Murat Kaya explains that when it comes to BFCM, a mobile app is “the single best tool to keep your brand away from that brutal competition.” After all, if your store has an app, then your customers are focused on your brand and your brand alone.
Prepare a BFCM follow-through for maximum retention
Finally, what some brands fail to understand is that BFCM is not the endgame. Dustin Chikeev reminds brands that “Creating a lasting impression and retaining customers should be a priority.”
He explains that short-term methods like free content, limited offers, discounts, reward points, and free shipping, can be used to create long-term demand.
BFCM, alongside other mega sale events, always brings in a huge influx of new customers. With the right strategies, these new customers can become repeat customers—and loyal fans in the long run.
Remember that your ecommerce brand will exist even after BFCM. So it’s all the more important to plan your retention strategies so you can continue generating sustainable revenue from your newly acquired customers. After all, Dustin reminds us that “driving new customers is a challenge, but keeping them coming back is both less expensive and an all-around better approach.”
Conclusion: The Asian market will change the BFCM game as we know it
Whether it’s this year, next year, or the year after that, one thing’s for sure. The Asian market will drive the future of ecommerce and will possibly change BFCM as we know it.
Brands that play their cards right can already get in the game as early as now, while others can start planning and strategizing.
For major business moves like this, a trustworthy agency that knows its way around the Asian market will prove to be a great ally. Feel free to reach out to one of our experts to get started on how you can best maximize the Asian ecommerce market.