Working successfully in Asia

Written by Katrina Copsey

Asia boasts some of the most dynamic economies in the world. With a rising middle class aspiring to consumer goods, it’s no surprise that clients have been keen to understand Asian consumers over the last decade. It is often a race against time- get there, before your competitor does. And yet, decoding these rich and diverse cultures can be a delicate feat.
At RDSi we love working in Asian markets – from India to Indonesia and China to Vietnam, and have done so successfully for over 25 years. Our passion for Asia is borne out of a deep respect for its diverse cultures both in terms of consumers and research communities. Our approach to research in Asia is all about relationships

We establish rapport
Partnership and collaboration are close to our hearts at RDSi. We have worked to build excellent, mutually beneficial relationships with like-minded researchers across Asia and around the world. And we’ve learnt a thing or two about how to get the very best out of our partners in Asia; because it is a partnership and not a supplier relationship that we really want. It is easy for UK agencies to be seen as the ‘Western experts’, when in fact, local expertise in terms of providing context and cultural insights can make a crucial difference.

We value the local expertise
It goes without saying that researchers on the ground who talk to consumers day in, day out about a variety of topics build a wealth of knowledge. But if they have been born and bred in their market too, they have a level of cultural insight that is hard to overestimate. Bringing the cultural and category insights to the surface can be a delicate process when working with Asian partners who may err on the side of deferential.

We get closer, digitally
So, how do we make sure that our clients don’t miss out on what local partners have to offer? In terms of best practice, technology is making our lives easier. The opportunity to Skype with partners early in the process of a project, to get them on board and thinking about how they can add value, sets the right tone for the project going forward by creating a two way dialogue. Although there is no substitute for some face to face time prior to fieldwork sessions, we don’t wait until we get off the plane to begin the briefing process. Early involvement engenders collaboration so that our partners feel ‘ownership’ of the project and are invested in successful outcomes.

Increasingly, we are relying on online communities to add another dimension to our studies in Asia, and to get closer to these consumers. Digital media are so widespread and well-liked by consumers that they can be a very reliable and rich source of insights. So, our research can start at our desk, before we board the plane

If you have a burning question or brief focused on Asia – give us a call