Marketing in Thailand as a Foreigner: Volume 2.2 Ad Campaign Crossroads: Global Materials vs. New Investment

Sometimes it’s okay to wear socks and sandals

Foreign traders sometimes have to be bold enough to wear socks and sandals in a tropical country like Thailand to stand out. If you are wondering why: READ HERE. I have no room to rewrite all of this; otherwise, you would think that this article is too long, but it is already long enough that I have to separate this volume into 2 parts.

2nd volume.2: Ad Campaign Crossover: Global Materials vs. New Investment PART 2

In the last post, I have discussed the most basic but essential criterion if you should follow your marketing instinct to invest in new localized materials or use the already existing global materials. I highly recommend you read or re-read it to make sense of my other checklist in this article!

2nd factor: are your products functional enough on their own?

If a product could sell itself due to unique features, investing in a new advertising campaign conveying a brand message might not be essential. I also applied this to one of my projects called Zoflora, a scented sanitizer. The brand has just entered the Thai market and its biggest rival is Dettol. The sore point is that Dettol reeks of hospital reminiscence. With Zoflora coming with a fragrance-like sanitizer, it’s already functional. Creating a brand new VDO to tackle the pain points of Thai culture is not so effective in exchanging the budget when you have such a top function.

We would rather invest in a peer-to-peer approach which is super profitable. No production is necessary. Just count on the creative freedom of influencers. Thais are obsessed with genuine recommendations on certain brands telling a story for consumers to buy products. After reviewing how functionally unique the product is, Thai digital nomads love to be early adopters talking about valuable products! In that case, leveraging word of mouth from real users with a combination of existing materials from around the world might already be a strong enough approach.

The honest reviews that propelled Zoflora to #1 sold out product on Lazada overnight in the category without having to invest in expensive materials

The final factor: how well-established is your brand globally?

Suppose I sell a basic product from an internationally renowned brand like Nivea or Garnier. The secret sauce to successful commodity sales without a distinct breakthrough feature is the number of shelves (both physical and digital) your products could be on. With enough shelves, your products are already screaming inanimately for shoppers to read labels and add your products to their carts. Suppliers are eager to add your products to their shelves if you can prove that your products have sufficient demand and establishment through your global fame reference. You can see the success of these global brands in terms of sales sometimes using unrelated brand stories or talents. Why invest in newly expensive materials when your shelving game is beyond intense, especially when that’s what your products are selling for?

Let’s take a look at another establishment example: “The expected arrival”. Let’s say my brand is a famous international restaurant chain that is expanding its branch in Thailand. We Thais couldn’t resist showing off. We have to share our excitement online in exchange for the social currency of our worldliness of having experienced this delicacy abroad. It’s the chain reaction for people to start talking about your arrival.

Marketing in Thailand as a Foreigner: Volume #2.2 Ad Campaign Crossover: Global Materials vs. New Investment |  News by Thaiger

Shake Shack announced their arrival with just “Sawasdee” featuring an elephant that symbolizes Thailand. It’s an effective and free approach to attacking their potential audience. Everyone is talking about the arrival of Shake Shack, and demand has since increased due to the established notoriety that has been hyped to create expectations.

With these two examples, why does your brand or product need to incorporate an advertising campaign to create awareness of your presence or value when your global establishment is kicking in?

If these 3 questions could be answered with clarity, your marketing hub should be less cluttered now!

  1. Business objective: Do pain points that require localization really exist, or is it just your marketing need because you feel the lack of local understanding?
  2. Unique Features: do your products have features that could easily create a buzz and already be the solution to Thai life?
  3. Fame: Do your brands have the previous notoriety that could be the asset to skyrocket sales or instantly create massive awareness?

If you’re at your wit’s end deciding whether to localize new materials or use international materials, consider these 3 points. I hope they could help somehow.

The point of this article isn’t to tell anyone to stop localizing ad campaigns and come up with new ones, but to really consider the effectiveness of your investment. Finding the weak points of how your products could be an undiscovered gem Thais have been waiting for and customizing new advertising campaigns with a colossal investment can be just as effective as using your existing global materials. But the hard part is being bold enough to get rid of your first instinct of being a foreigner who doesn’t know the local nuances and focus on the variations that sell your products instead.

If you’re bold enough to get rid of your alien saboteur, yes, you’ll probably look weird.

Yes, you will be notoriously remembered for your quirkiness. But one thing is that your ads will be unforgettable in our small country, which is the base of marketing. Remember, Justin Bieber once took off his socks and sandals!

Writer: Don Gorrith, Senior Strategic Planner at Yell advertising Bangkok

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