Posts filed under ‘thailand’

A digitizing Bollywood? India’s first serial for mobiles

pp002bollywood-kaho-naa-pyaar-hai-posters.jpgJu (MindShare, Regional team) writes:

Hope you had a great refreshing holiday like I did and wishing everyone a superb year ahead!

I opened my inbox to find an interesting article on the distribution of content through mobile phones in India, forwarded to me by Alefiyah in MindShare Singapore who gave us the “Bollywood on Mobile” story last year. The article on the Hindustani Times, titled “India’s first serial for mobiles next month” featured another example of how Bollywood is capitalizing on digital technology to bring entertainment to the masses. Rajshri Productions, a major Bollywood production house, has created a “90-episode series, with three minutes per episode, … in the humour genre” offered to the audience via the mobile phone.

With the high penetration rate of mobile phones in the region, other developing countries in Asia-Pacific might want to keep an eye on India to see how the landscape for digital content and platforms will unfold. In the developing world, it is likely that India will lead in terms of creative ideas on producing content for new media like the Internet, mobile phones and mp3 players, given the population’s uniquely insatiable appetite for Bollywood fare.

The article reminds me a recent chat I had with a Thai security guard servicing one of my friend’s apartment in Bangkok. The guard (apparently an early adopter of trends, as my friend tells me) was trying out DTAC’s (a Thai mobile network operator) new GPRS promotion plan that offered a FREE mobile-internet-friendly Nokia phone bundled with 20 hours of downloads for 99 baht (about 3 USD). He was happily connected to the Internet with his phone through the mobile internet browser Opera, but he had one problem. He had no idea where to go to find any kind of entertainment on the Internet! I have a feeling he’d go for a Thai version of the mobile comedy series launching in India…

Read India’s first serial for mobiles next month on Hindustani Times. Thanks Alefiyah!

January 2, 2008 at 11:22 am 13 comments

Asian youth and the mobile phone

Ju (MindShare, Regional Insights) writes:

mobilelife.jpgThe mobile phone has become an indispensible equipment for Asian youth. PwC’s 2007 survey of nearly 8,000 of their staff from 17 countries around the world (78% aged between 16-34 yrs) revealed a whopping 98% mobile penetration rate in Asia-Pacific countries, with a significantly lower 62% fixed-line penetration rate.

The first Asia Scout Network pan-regional summary report by MindShare is therefore dedicated to the mobile phone – how mobiles mold the lifestyles of Asian youth and vice versa.  Findings are based on updates on the Asia Scout Network blog from our city scouts in Tokyo, Singapore, Jakarta, Bangkok, Sydney, Shanghai, and Kuala Lumpur.

The headlines are:
1) Asian youth pimp their mobiles
2) Mobilizing communities
3) Japan’s contagious QR codes
4) Mobile multimedia gains momentum
5) Making ‘Hero’ features visible
6) What lies beyond

Download the full report:asia-scout-network-the-mobile-life.pdf

August 28, 2007 at 3:00 am 2 comments

Digital trends in Thailand, Asia-Pacific, and beyond

Peck (MindShare, Bangkok) writes:

PWC’s “Convergence Monitor” survey shows that Thailand has the one of the largest number of social networking (virtual networking and blogging) users in Asia, second only to China which has more than 85% of respondents having engaged in social networking at least once while Thailand has 71%.

Chatting, instant messaging, and downloading digital music are popular services among Thai internet users. 90% of respondents have used chatting or instant messaging at least once, and 87% have downloaded music through the internet at least once, expecting to see higher growth along with increase demand for broadband internet. However, online banking and online shopping are not as popular in Thailand as they are in other Asia Pacific countries. For example, while 39% of Singaporean respondents stated that they had used online banking and shopping at least once, only 8% of Thai respondents had done so.

Download the full report titled “Convergence Monitor: The Digital Home” here.

Examples of popular Thai blogs and blogging platforms:

www.bloggang.com

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http://vip-galz.storythai.com/

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June 19, 2007 at 10:07 am 12 comments

As Streetwear Peaks in Bangkok…

street1.jpgJu (MindShare, Regional Team) writes:

“With a surfer’s business model, Harajuku aesthetic, and uniquely independent American attitude, the message of streetwear speaks to a global youth audience.”Theme Magazine, “X-Pollination of Streetwear”

At The Esplanade, another mall that has recently sprouted up in Bangkok, there is huge fenced-off, under-construction section that promised a space for Zoo York, Ed Hardy, Reef, Emily The Strange, and the likes of other such streetwear brands.

Streetwear is part of street culture, the definition of which is difficult to articulate and often subject to debate. On a superficial level, street culture is united through the elements of hip-hop, skate/surf culture, graffiti arts, print designs, and an obsession for limited editions. At its more meaningful core, it manifests the values of individuality, rebellion, sexiness, originality, freedom, and a sense of exclusive smallness, dressed up in a certain aesthetics, tone, music and attitude that only those ‘in the know’ can decode.

As I walked by that section at The Esplanade, I couldn’t help thinking of the principles of trend research, as a paper written eight years ago by Flamingo International on forward-looking trend research (Complacency Kills: Protecting Levi’s Cool Mindshare) articulates very well:

…one of the effects of skate culture, a culture both marginal and increasingly aspirational for the mainstream, has been the growth in non-denim workwear and combats, from brands such as Carhartt, Dickie’s, Homeboy, Stoopid. The Early Adopter credibility of these brands depends on their smallness, to the extent that once they become big they are left to the mainstream, as the leading edge goes off in search of more underground brands. The short lifecycle of these brands feeds into consumer perceptions that they can keep finding cool, new, small brands (indeed, smallness becomes a prerequisite for coolness and acceptability).

Assuming this, could the fact that these ‘underground’ brands now have a big, clear presence in a mall and are thus more accessible and recognized by the mainstream erode their ‘cool equity’ in the minds of Bangkok’s true leading edge youth?

As streetwear travels from its fringe origins with local Californian surfer Shawn Stussy in 1980, mutating and cross-pollinating around the globe (more on the journey of streetwear here), the type that eventually lands with a grand entrance at one of Bangkok’s latest shopping malls 27 years later is also likely to attract a mainstream group who buy more into the hype rather than into the lifestyle or the attitude of the brand. This risks chipping away at the brand’s youth credibility in the long run even as sales volume rises.

For any mass brand striving to become a part of youth’s ‘cool’ ground (or maintain it), it may useful to consider this ‘Early Adopter’ strategy put forth in Flamingo’s paper:

As a mass brand, in the sense that the brand enjoys high volume sales, it has been central… to retain cool mindshare by specifically not targeting the mainstream. As a brand which has to achieve credibility above all with the key 15-19 male target, it is essential that the brand be seen to be part of the target’s world, initiating trends from within, rather than merely ‘decorating’ that world. This means aiming ideally to stay ahead of the core target, but at least to match them…

….Media is not only chosen on the basis of penetration, GRPs, etc. Cool mindshare depends on…maintaining a discreet dialogue with the most opinion-leading core target: this means having a credible low-key presence in selected media… ensuring that opinion-leading youth feel they have access to communication coming from the brand which is less accessible to the mainstream.

June 18, 2007 at 3:58 am 1 comment

Economic Indicators – Thai Style

Paul (MindShare, Thailand) writes:

We’re always looking for those nuggets of information that give us insight into the future direction of an economy. Often the more traditional measures are too little, too late.

If you’ve worked in Thailand then you may have heard about the Mama Noodle Index. This states that as the economy declines sales of instant noodles increase exponentially, as people cut back on eating out & discretionary spending on food.

Read more here : http://www.theage.com.au/news/world/using-their-noodles/2005/09/04/1125772407287.html

Now we have another equally unusual but maybe very telling index. Gold shop robberies.

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Especially up country, traffic and turnover through gold shops is a useful economic barometer. Unfortunately in recent months, most of that traffic have been people looking to purchase on the “5 finger discount”.

Recent headlines:
Police concerned by near-daily robberies
Gold shops hunkering down– Wave of thefts has owners turning to everything from barricades to dogs
Police urge gold shops to tighten security

May 18, 2007 at 3:48 am Leave a comment

YouTube disappears from Thai Internet

David (MindShare, Bangkok) writes:

From today’s Bangkok Post:

Internet users reported on Wednesday that Thai authorities had blocked the popular website YouTube, over an insulting video of His Majesty the King.

youtubedisappears.jpg

Sitthichai Pookaiyaudom, the minister of information and communication technology, told the Reuters news agency he personally ordered a block of the entire site from Thailand after the ministry’s attempts to block the offending page last week failed.

Full story at:

http://www.bangkokpost.net/topstories/topstories.php?id=117871
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/04/05/business/worldbusiness/05tube.html?ref=technology

April 5, 2007 at 6:11 am 2 comments

Loving the good-looking in Thailand

Linda (MindShare, Bangkok) writes: thaislookgood.jpg

While using the latest 3D data out for Thailand for brand planning, pitches, and so forth, we came across this interesting piece of news.

If Thais were to choose what would be the key factor of an ideal partner and they were only allowed to choose one, being good looking tops the list! (26% of the total population) What’s second and third? Being modest and being financially secure respectively. More ‘character’ traits like very moral, sense of humor, personality were voted for by about 10% of the population each.

No wonder there is such a big boom for the beauty business here in Thailand. Walk into a regular shopping mall, and you’ll see at least three beauty clinics for the latest quick fixes for your face and body…lasers, botox, collagens and I’ve already lost track of the latest technology. And the market for functional drinks that is really all about being skinny and good looking… I could go on and on.

I guess first impression do matter…fortunately for those who have the looks, they are definitely at an advantage in Thailand. But if you may be lacking thereof, for the gentlemen, you can probably get away with having the cash (women voted this as 2nd most important criteria) and ladies, if you don’t have the looks you still need a great body to be considered by the general Thai male.

Sad to say…what a superficial society we live in.

February 28, 2007 at 1:16 pm 6 comments

“Being Spaces” in Bangkok

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Ju writes (MindShare, Regional) writes:

Anyone monitoring consumer lifestyle trends couldn’t have missed out the concept of “Being Spaces“, put forth by trendwatching.com, described as: “commercial living-room-like settings, where catering and entertainment aren’t just the main attraction, but are there to facilitate small office/living room activities like watching a movie, reading a book, meeting friends and colleagues, or doing your admin.

Starbucks is a great example on a global scale, while many companies in Japan, China and South-Korea offer deluxe gaming and manga-reading facilities, as well as semi-private DVD booths.

BEING SPACES charge us for eating, drinking, playing, listening, surfing, working, or meeting, just as we would at home or in the office, while successfully reintegrating us into city life.”

The trend is rapidly catching on among the young and urban in Bangkok, unsuprisingly, considering these factors: a) the need to avoid the notoriously congested traffic and jam-packed public transportation by remaining in one spot for as long as possible, b) the desire for new, private experiences that set them slightly apart from the masses yet keep them wired to trendy offerings in an urban setting, and most importantly, c) the emphasis on design and beauty that came together with the explosion of the indie scene in 2005, unique among Bangkok youth. The buzz word “dek naew“, a term coined by the local media used to describe the young followers of the indie arts and culture who “wouldn’t be caught dead in Louis Vuitton or Gucci”. Two years later, the ‘dek naew’ rage has quietened, but the concept of counter-culture and the backlash against mainstream culture has already become deeply rooted in the mindsets of the creatively hip and trendy, paving the way for the birth of informal social networking activities like Pecha Kucha nights.

Leading the “BEING SPACES’ trend in Bangkok, local cable, internet, and mobile conglomerate True already has 4 such ‘lifestyle shops’, offering services that range from DVD-watching spaces to wireless iPod stations to live music sessions by indie artists. The services offered vary appropriately, according to the location and the group it caters to. My guess is it’s the chilled-out hippies and tourists in Kao Sarn, the designer-artists-creatives group in Thong Lo, the wired and flashy upscale at Siam Paragon, and the young, trendy teens at Siam Square.

Apart from established spots like The Style by Toyota, Thailand Creative and Design Center (TCDC), House Cinema, Playground, and the new Central World Plaza which brands itself as ‘the largest lifestyle shopping complex’, the most recent addition to this scene is The Third Place, which positions itself as a place to live, work, and play, with a club where members pay a fee to hang out in an informal work space complete with all the office facilities (fax, printer, scanner, photocopier), conference rooms, board games and even a garden terrace. You can check out the ambience in the video below:

Another signal alerting the re-arranging of social network structures in Asia, as people seek out open platforms to socialize both on and offline.

February 19, 2007 at 12:50 pm 8 comments

Thai sneakerheads connect to global sneaker movement

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Ju (MindShare Regional) writes:

Urban streetwear and its sneaker culture appears to be another youth community using social media to build network strength.

The youth sub-culture is defined by respect for original design, limited editions, customization, and collaborations with urban artists, designers, retailers, and street magazines offline and online (such as Crooked Tongues, HypeBeast, Sneaker Freaker).

Crooked Tongues, the established London-based online sneaker resource, recently posted news on Nike’s AF1 party in Bangkok, with a link that refers to “our extended CT family in Thailand“. The link connects to Thai urban fashionista blogger who writes about sneakerhead events and the release and pre-order of limited edition Nike kicks. On the Nike AF1 party, the blog not only showed details of the actual party, but also included the preparation of the party (with pictures of the construction blueprints, actual construction and site), all told in the eyes of a consumer, which had likely boosted the level of pre-party excitement and grandeur for the event.

A more apparent symbol of the global movement of sneaker culture emerging from the underground is sneaker-website.com, with a global network similar to the global cosplay community. The website also has a story on Sneaker Society – Thailands First Sneaker Community. , calling it Thailand’s first sneaker website. Its blog links to other local sneaker-freak sites like sneakavilla.net.

From the look of the sites, it seems Nike already has a head start in engaging the Thai community of sneakerheads – the opinion-leaders of urban street culture who are as local as they are globally connected.

February 3, 2007 at 2:10 pm 1 comment

Two laptops per buyer? Overcoming the digital divide in Thailand

David (MindShare Bangkok) writes:

Via BBC News: The backers of the One Laptop Per Child project are looking at the possibility of selling the machine to the public. If implemented, OLPC’s new scheme could mean consumers buy one unit for personal use and a second as a charitable donation to an appropriate cause. Certainly, this type of initiative will be essential if the project is to have any impact in Thailand. The interim government here has put on indefinite hold the previous administration’s plans to purchase the laptops in bulk for use in schools.

The first countries to sign up to buying the machine, which is officially dubbed XO, include Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Nigeria, Libya, Pakistan and Thailand.

January 15, 2007 at 8:42 am 2 comments

Japanese Cosplay takes off in Asia and beyond

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Ju (MindShare regional team, Bangkok) writes:

You’ve heard this before – the vast amount of rich, multimedia information flowing rapidly and fluidly through the Internet and other digital means is re-arranging social network structures and creating new ones – globally. From a marketing viewpoint, this calls for a reassessment of the data sets that are used to define user profiles for consumer segmentation . In other words, ‘The Big Switch’ is favoring ways to redefine your customer segments for even more effective targeting.

One powerful youth culture nurtured, thriving, and spreading through these digital means is “Cosplay”, described by Wikipedia as: “a contraction … of the English words “costume” and “play”, is a Japanese subculture centered on dressing as characters from manga, anime, tokusatsu, and video games, and, less commonly, Japanese live action television, shows, fantasy movies, or Japanese pop music bands. However, in some circles, “cosplay” has been expanded to mean simply wearing a costume.”

The cosplay community is united by their costumed appearance and unconstrained by national boundaries. The blog Cosplay.com, self-described as the internet’s premier cosplay community, already has more than 50,000 registered members, and links to sub-blogs from 22 countries, ranging from Canada to Chile, and from Asia, includes Thailand, Japan, Korea, China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan. The World Cosplay Summit is now onto its fourth year and its website features links to smaller national competitions in places from Singapore to Brazil.

It is rapidly entering the mainstream in the Philippines, where cosplay events are often held within an anime, manga, gaming, or sci-fi convention (source: wikipedia). In fact, the Filipino has their own established cosplay online community, Pinoy Cosplay, with at least 2,900 members, a bookstore, a shop, and forums discussing topics ranging from cosplay celebrities, costume-making tips, and cosplay-related products.

The cosplay society even has their own themed hangouts: pubs, restaurants, or cafes where staff dresses in cosplay, elegant maids, or butlers, and treat everyone like “Masters”. These so-called ‘maid cafes’ have already popped up in Thailand, Singapore, and Korea.

Brands have begun to attach themselves to this subculture: see Garnier’s Manga Head styling gel in the UK and Nike ID in Japan.

How can a brand capitalize on these passion-based youth communities, that are bubbling up virtally and coming together physically? I think this quote inspires many ideas: “It’s not where you take things from, it’s where you take them to.” (Jean Luc Godard).

January 9, 2007 at 12:09 pm 10 comments

‘Collabo!’ goes sexy in Thailand

metineejintana.jpgadidasxgoodyear.jpg

Ju (MindShare regional team) writes:

In 2004, Asian youth agency The Filter Group picked up on the ‘collaboration culture’, then still a bubbling hot trend among Japanese youth (“collabo!”). The following description of the trend has been excerpted from a presentation by The Filter Group co-founder and CEO, Ian Stewart (now VP, MTV Asia Research and Planning):

The past few years have seen a huge number of collaborations – within a category, two different categories, low and high culture, old with new. The list is endless. Look to BAPE, Future, Stussy, Adidas, Nike, Lee, Yamamoto, Calvin Klein, KuBrick, Puma as some of the pioneers

Japan is leading this charge, citing rapidly moving trend cycles, and a consumer need for innovation and for the unusual as some of the reasons. And now other markets around Asia have started to follow…

CUTTING THRU… Brands that are collaborating have found new sales streams, new consumer segments, a revived brand image, and new partner-driven opportunities.

From the likes of Adidas X Goodyear, Levi’s X Jeep, and Pepsi X BAPE comes Thailand’s own local collaboration: lingerie brand ‘Metinee by Jintana’.

Thai supermodel and former Miss Thailand, Metinee Kingpayom (Luk-Ked), partnered with Jintana Intertrade, the 48-yr-old, largest lingerie producer in Thailand to launch her first four collections: ‘Kiss’, ‘Grace’, ‘Passion’, and ‘Lacey Eyes’.

The partnership has given Jintana’s image a big boost, shifting it from old, local, ‘my-mom-used-to-wear-it’ brand into one that is fashionable, confident, for the new generation of modern working woman. Metinee herself is a local icon for the internationally-bred supermodel and businesswoman. The launch party’s coverage on Thailand’s fashion TV, Chic Channel, has also done a great job in sealing the brand’s ‘fashion’ element.

A beautiful example of how the global trends of ‘Massclusivity’ and ‘Beauty by Design’ are slowly filtering into Thailand’s local mainstream. ‘Kiss’ anyone?

January 4, 2007 at 6:42 am Leave a comment

Asian papers feature Time’s Person of the Year: You

nationfrontpageyou.jpg

Ju (Mindshare regional team, Bangkok) writes:

When Craig Yoe of Yoe! Studios announced that ‘you’ (meaning you, me, us, individuals) was number of one on his list of top 100 cool things at the 2006 Asia Youth Marketing Conference, I certainly never imagined that it was going to be echoed in this year’s Time magazine’s selection of Person of the Year, announced on Saturday.

However, what surprised me even more was that the story was newsworthy enough to be featured on the FRONT-PAGE of Thailand’s two main English-language newspapers, the Bangkok Post and the Nation. Further exploration on newseum.org took me to at least 3 other Asian newspapers where the story got front-page mention on Monday – Taiwan’s Economic Daily News, the Manila Times, and the Korea Times, which had a teaser on the page header. (However, for some reason, this was not the case in leading papers in the West such as The New York Times or UK’s The Guardian.)

To me, this implies that ‘The Big Switch’ is at a point where it will propel into full steam in affecting Asian consumers very soon. When an authoritative media like Time pays attention to the ‘ small contributions of millions of people’ and salutes the individuals who share photos, videos, thoughts, personalities, and more on the Internet, when Asian daily newspapers find this newsworthy of front-page coverage, expect this ‘New Digital Democracy’ to be discussed among all and engaged by Asian early adopters who will, if they haven’t already, make sure they are not left behind the online cultural revolution.

December 19, 2006 at 5:45 am 2 comments

Blogs help form Asian communities of cool

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Ju (Mindshare regional team, Bangkok) writes:

Complementing my post on bloggers on Honeyee and the Nike+ Challenge, it seems that, even outside of Japan, opinion leaders of youth culture are blogging their way to establish themselves as leaders of the cool community.

These are a few examples from the Tribal Times report on Online Communities:

In Hong Kong, the popular street magazine Milk Magazine has its own roster of music artists signed onto their record label ‘SillyThing’. Silly Thing’s official site ‘Think Silly‘ links to its artists’ blogs who use the portal to build their fan community. Among those blogs is that of Milk’s founder TK, which features products, ideas, and anything else that catches his attention.

Singapore’s cool kids are following Terratag, a graphics design brand of ‘innovative anglo-japanese hybrid’ that spans the world of fashion, art, and design. Terratag’s creations, personality, and events are brought to life via its website, two blogs (LiveJournal and Blogspot), a MySpace account, and photos on Fotolog and Flickr. Its UK creator has traveled to Singapore and Malaysia to open exhibitions last year.

In Bangkok there is ‘DudeSweet‘ which began as an indie-rock cult, but now organizes events ranging from club nights to fashion shows. Its founder’s MySpace account connects to the community of figures that define the local alternative world of music and the arts. The page shows flyers for upcoming events, offers visitors a discount to its parties, and includes a mailing list.

Being avid networkers and content generators, these opinion leaders have learned how to direct online activities for their own real-world interests. By allowing members to cross back and forth between virtual and physical worlds, these blogs can strengthen a sub-culture’s sense of community, and consequently, their engagement with associated brands.

December 18, 2006 at 5:55 am 4 comments

Even Thai bureaucrats blog

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Ju (Mindshare regional team, Bangkok) writes:

Government organizations and related figures aren’t likely to be associated to blogging, especially those in developing countries with large rural populations where a rigid hierarchy is still in place, where the government and its staff are not exactly known for transparency.

But, according to bizpunk.com: “Paiboon Watanasiritham, Minister of Social Welfare and Human Security in Thailand, has been blogging since 2005. He is currently in his sixties. His blog is very influential as it provides citizens with an easy, virtual access to the Minister. He tries to blog once a week and his topics range from social development to issues on morality.”

Khun Paiboon’s blog resides on a local platform called gotoknow.org. Gotoknow.org was conceived locally as the brainchild of two professors of the Prince of Songkhla University, to share knowledge among those in the knowledge management field. The initiative was later taken up by the Knowledge Management Institute and it community of practice expanded to include professors, bureaucrats, students, and researchers. The network grew further to a point where new blogging platforms had to be developed to support new members: learners.in.th was developed for those professors and students who used Web 2.0 concept for teaching and learning, and researchers.in.th was created for researchers was created for researchers in various scientific fields to store and exchange findings.

Going through the blogs, I was struck by the heavy local feel. Most of the members belonged to second-tier universities, some in Bangkok, mostly in the provinces. I couldn’t understand what exactly was going on in their world, but could sense that the bloggers were actively interacting with each other. For this reason, I felt the community to be quite active and close-knit, with professors and students responding to each other’s comments in a fun, informal manner (very rare in my days of uni).

While the level of influence of Khun Paiboon’s may be open to discussion, this goes to show that the blogging phenomenon can only be considered under the local context within which it emerges, and the community of like-minded people that it creates. It follows a similar pattern as that of the wife-bloggers in Korea, who ‘share recipes, provides information on baby care, best schools, and stores, according to Richard Edelman. It confirms Pew Internet’s comments that ‘blogs are as individual as the people who keep them’ and that ‘ most bloggers are primarily interested in creative, personal expression.’

The existence of these pockets of communities is undeniable, but the question remains: how can these communities fit into the branding world and vice versa? These are just some ideas:

  • Engage them as media vehicles
  • Collaborate with them to create new content
  • Help extend their network reach to other similar communities (and therefore create an even bigger audience for the brand)
  • Seek solutions from them, such as for product development or advertising
  • Find ways to enrich their community culture

Thanks to Sunit Shrestha for the background on Gotoknow.org

December 13, 2006 at 5:18 am 2 comments

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