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The Factors that Make Indonesia a Unique Market


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Wed, 14 Jun. 2017

    Campaign Asia

In 2017, what distinguishes the Indonesian consumer market from others?

Much like almost all of Southeast Asia and, for that matter, Asia as a whole, the consumer market in Indonesia is its own blend of the past and the present, the modern and the traditional, the urge to break away from traditions and the longing to clutch on to them.

What cultural issues to foreign brands need to be aware of when marketing in Indonesia?

The overwhelming pluralistic nature of people in Indonesia ensures there are not many limitations to what brands can say or cannot, as long as they observe a level of ‘decency’, a sign of respect for the culture of the nation. Anne Ridwan, CEO, O&M Indonesia cautions that this includes being sensitive to religion. “Brands need to be acutely aware of certain nuances and props that may be offensive to the people. Mocking or stereotyping a certain ethnic group in communication is not always acceptable. Making fun of older people is also not well-received as Indonesians are taught to respect people who are older in age, especially parents and grandparents.”

What do advertisers need to avoid if they are to build strong brands?

Sameness and playing it safe. There is still a tendency amongst advertisers to stick to a “time-tested formulae” even though consumers have moved on from this. “Advertisers often fall into the trap of believing that Indonesia is a “literal” market. The popular notion that prescriptive advertising works is only half true,” says Amin. “Indonesian consumers react to nuances – cultural, emotional and behavioral. Brands can use this to their advantage to create memorable, effective communication.”

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