April 17, 2018
By Dave Avran
MALAYSIANS are highly connected online, but they are also very sceptical of social media content, according to a new global survey of 70,000 people across 56 countries, including 104 in-depth interviews as part of a 2017 Connected Life study.
The research set out to explore consumer trust in brands underpinned by four themes: technology, content, data, and eCommerce.
Malaysians spend a large proportion of our day online, thanks to our mobile devices and ever-improving data costs and speeds. However, marketers need to realise that Malaysians are not easy targets in this digital world.
In comparison to other less developed countries in the region, consumers here are more mistrusting of what they see online, and are more uncomfortable with brands collecting their personal data.
Only 17 per cent of connected consumers in Malaysia believe content on social media is reliable. Only 41 per cent trust global brands, and 51 per cent are concerned about the level of personal data brands collect from them.
Malaysian government agencies are driving eCommerce development as one of the vital cogs in Digital Malaysia, evidenced by the establishment of the Digital Free Trade Zone (DTFZ), which is a collaboration between MDEC and China’s Alibaba Group.
Jack Ma has been appointed as Malaysia’s Digital Economy Advisor.
The study also showed that trust in brands varied significantly between markets. In Malaysia, consumers are moderately cynical, with only 41 per cent trusting global brands. This trust level falls significantly in other markets such as Australia (19 per cent). In emerging markets such as Vietnam, 54 per cent of consumers remain trusting of these brands.
This contrasts markedly with other Southeast Asian countries such as the Philippines and Indonesia, where 59 per cent and 61 per cent respectively trust this content. Thirty-one per cent have concerns about how much control social media networks have over the content that they see on their feeds.
So despite the benefits of sharing data, Malaysians are cautious about how much of their personal data they share online. Thirty-eight per cent of Malaysian consumers object to the monitoring of their online activities even if it makes their lives easier, compared to 15 per cent in Indonesia.
Malaysians are becoming increasingly aware of the price they are paying for their connected lifestyles, and many feel on the losing end of an unfair exchange.
We are unsure about chatbots – while 38 per cent say that they would accept interacting with an AI-powered machine if it meant their query was dealt with more quickly, a similar number (30 per cent) would object to using one. Less than one in three (29 per cent) of Malaysians are willing to pay for products using their mobile phone.
Cash is still king in Malaysia, so innovative solutions that make people’s lives demonstrably easier are needed before consumers are convinced to move onto newer payment options.
Trust is fragile.
To build and protect trust, brands need to put the customer first. That means understanding their motivations, understanding the right moments to engage with them, respecting their time as valuable, and being more transparent about how and when they collect and use their personal data.
Above all, that means putting the customer first – something that many marketers have forgotten to do.
So what are the secrets of better engagement?
The first consideration is the platform used to connect to Malaysians. Each platform in the digital space has its own distinct role, and marketers therefore need to understand how the brand should fit within it so that it does not feel out of place.
Secondly, content. Creativity is vital when engaging consumers – the most popular campaigns are always the ones that are creative, short, simple and leave a lasting impression.
Brands need an overarching creative that speaks to the audience, then invest time in tailoring the execution across channels.
Lastly, brands need to earn trust. Transparency is key here. Consumers want to know that any personal data shared with a brand is safe, and that it is being used in a way that will benefit them.
Trust takes time to build, so brands need to ensure they are doing all they can to develop the relationship with consumers or risk alienating them in the long-term.