In today’s data-driven world, brands are expected to know what consumers want before they even know themselves. What makes this possible, or in today’s world, expected, is the availability of data and our ability to garner and analyse it.

However, some brands are a bit slow on the uptake and maybe a bit behind when it comes to utilising consumer intelligence effectively. In fact, only 22% of APAC industry professionals said that their organisation monitors and analyses conversations through a unified platform according to Talkwalker.

To find out more and what brands are missing out on, we speak to Benjamin Soubies, Managing Director, APAC & Japan of Talkwalker. He is an experienced market researcher having been part of TBWA, Gartner and now Talkwalker. Today, as Head of APAC at Talkwalker, Ben advises partners and organisations on best practices in monitoring, measuring and analysing online conversations.

Why Vietnam might be the next martech hub for Southeast Asia

For years he has been advising companies across the world on how to leverage the digital age to their advantage. We speak to him to find out what Southeast Asian brands are missing out on.

What are the biggest challenges to getting brands to use consumer intelligence?

Many brands are nascent in their awareness and application of consumer intelligence. Others are still catching up in terms of their social listening practice. The common denominator is that each brand is sitting on a treasure trove of consumer data, and this makes our work very exciting, in that we are showing brands what these millions of consumer data points can do for them, by leveraging Talkwalker’s AI-enabled platform and analytics. We help them to realise how consumer insights have become the need of the hour, given the omnichannel ‘Age of the Consumer’ that we live in.

Are there common trends that you are seeing across multiple industries in Southeast Asia?

Firstly, brands and marketers are struggling to keep up with the fast-evolving consumer trends and conversations. At a time when up to 4 million brand interactions can take place online in a given day (Source: Shape Tomorrow report, Talkwalker), only 22% of APAC industry professionals said that their organisation monitors and analyses conversations through a unified platform (Source: Talkwalker).

The good news is that, with the rapid digitalisation of businesses and the creation of e-commerce opportunities as a result of the pandemic, brands are only becoming more aware of the need to grasp consumer conversations and sentiment in real-time. In Southeast Asia alone, 60 million new digital consumers have come online in the past year, according to a report by Google, Temasek, and Bain. This has given rise to new opportunities for brands and marketers to engage entirely new cohorts of customers via digital channels, and social media platforms. AI-enabled consumer intelligence is helping these brands to maintain their relevance, and better cater towards these audiences.

Finally, sustainable products are increasingly in demand by socially-conscious consumers, no matter the category. And, by extension, consumers want to see sustainability become a core consideration for brands. Take for example the findings from Talkwalker’s recent Twitter Birdseye Report on the Food industry. The report found 13% year-on-year growth in Twitter conversations around global food sustainability from 2020 to 2021, with Gen Zs driving 46.5% of these conversations. Such insights are crucial to determining the trends that brands should be paying attention to, in order for them to get closer to their audiences, and become part of shaping the consumer culture and products of tomorrow. 

Which markets in Southeast Asia are leading the charge when it comes to using these insights to grow their business? 

We see teams of Talkwalker power users emerging throughout the Asia Pacific region, including Singapore, which is a competitive market for hiring talented analysts, and where brands and agencies are eager to discover and deploy industry-leading solutions like ours. This is similarly true for Japan, India, Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand – where both local and international brands, in particular, are very keen to gain a nuanced and real-time understanding of the many diverse segments across their market. With the rise of direct-to-consumer brands and e-commerce platforms, incumbent brands are facing strong competition for market share. AI-enabled consumer intelligence is helping them to drive innovation and break away from reactive behaviours.

Could you share some of the ways that consumer insights are helping your clients? 

With consumer and influencer voices increasingly sharing the driving seat of brand-building these days, part of the consumer intelligence practice enabled by Talkwalker is focused on helping brands to regain some of the control of their narratives – to transition from reactive communication, towards more proactive strategies.

Our AI-enabled platform provides an opportunity for marketing, communications, and consumer research teams to outsource the manual work of data collection and pattern recognition, so that they can focus their resources on providing more nuanced, human analysis, and the application of their domain expertise.

We are also working towards developing predictive solutions that will help our clients to carve out a niche in their markets and industries – whether this is consulting, consumer goods, or even automotives. 

What’s next for Talkwalker?

As a consumer intelligence platform, our overall aim is to help brands grow from reactive to proactive and predictive strategies. Instead of pondering ‘Why has this happened?’, Talkwalker clients are able to forecast and act upon ‘What we can do next’; rather than producing descriptive analytics, our platform is able to inform predictions and prescriptions.

For our short-term strategy, we are focusing on increasing our already extensive data coverage – capturing new data sources, social networks and platforms, in order to maintain the relevance of our insights to our clients.

In our middle to long-term strategy, we are also making strategic acquisitions in order to expand our full suite of capabilities. With Social Content Ratings® which we acquired in 2019, we brought on board a social engagement and video performance solution that is trusted by the world’s biggest media and sports brands. This was followed by the acquisition of Reviewbox and in 2021.

Finally, we are growing our presence rapidly throughout the region. We opened our Tokyo office in 2020, a Sydney office in 2021, and Talkwalker will officially land in Mumbai, India in 2022. The aim of this is to get closer to our clients and their growing needs when it comes to consumer insights. As a company, we are committed to providing our clients with up-to-date data, tools, and insights to stay relevant in the ever-evolving consumer markets – and this means growing with them, in order to become the one-stop platform for all the data, insights, and reporting needs of their business.