Tired of reading piles of slides or reports to understand online behaviors for Asia Pacific? Bored of sifting through those staggering digital statistics in order to seize a helicopter overview in this most populous region? If so, then follow me and let us dig in, of course in a fun and concise Q&A style, shall we?

Recently I have been helping one of my company’s clients to look at a digital project across 14 markets in APAC. To certain extent, it has been truly a tedious dog work, but in the end, it has been rewarding enough for me to understand that digital trends have been converging in the region, though still infused with exceptions and idiosyncrasies for each market.

Anyhow the 14 markets I have been looking at are:

1.China 2.HonKong 3. Taiwan 4. Japan 5. South Korea 6. Singapore 7. Malaysia 8. Indonesia 9. Thailand 10. Vietnam 11. Philippines 12. Australia 13. New Zealand 14. India

So I will start with Q&A, to discuss commonality, trend, exception. Just simple facts; without quoting figures.

Part I:

If one of the biggest themes of internet is about “SEARCH”, then the most popular Search Engine market share is a “must know” for each market.

A)      Do you know Google is already becoming a “Search Equator” in APAC?

The answer is a firm “Yes”

B)      Any exceptions?

Of course, China (Baidu), South Korea (Naver), Taiwan (Yahoo).

As for Japan, I actually checked different data sources, and it could be a little controversial between the answer either Yahoo or Google, but I bet on the rising popularity of Google in Japan

Part II:

Social Media is hot in APAC, and needless to say developed countries often have higher social media penetration rate compared with developing ones.

A)      Therefore now can you name those rich markets with very high social media penetration rate?

Easy answers: Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Hong Kong

B)      Do you know one country is rich enough yet not that social media craving?

Obviously Japan, we know these people tend to be shy, reticent, or at least not that outspoken

C)      Any emerging markets have maintained huge growth momentum in social media potentials?

Common sense, those with massive population: China, India, Indonesia

D)      If social media adoption is one thing, then social media passion should be another thing. Denizens, from emerging markets, once become netizens, tend to be much more social media savvy compared with western peers, have you ever thought about why?

I did. My theory is: People from emerging markets are often less privileged and resourceful, especially financially. Hence social media is an ideal entertaining online venue or cyber party to entertain, to meet new people, to get to know the outside world (considering overseas travel would be expensive), to learn and follow the coolest western cultures etc

E)       Pick the countries which have this special hobby to use brands’ name and logo as their personal account profiles on social media? Or to put it in a simple way, they like to steal corporations’ identity in order to stay anonymous?

You got it, China and India. For the rest of 12 markets, I observe netizens often prefer to use their true identity for online social activities.

Part III:

Facebook, the King of Social Media is still taking the APAC by storm, besides China in which Facebook’s scepter has been rejected till this day. No sooner had Vietnam government lifted the ban on Facebook than Vietnamese immediately rekindled their devotion to it.

13 markets here have been converged their ruling social media passion into Facbook, and for markets like Philippines and Hong Kong, the landscape of social media is predominantly Facebook oriented; others SNS just play a minor role.

A)      So apart from Facebook, how is the stardom status for Twiter and Youtube?

Except China, the popularity of Twitter and Youtube has been unanimously rising in 13 markets. Again it is a converging trend.

B)      So based on above converging trends, except China, does social media landscape in APAC completely Americanized?

Actually not really, some markets somehow still retain their localized tastes, and do you know who they are?

South Korea has KaKao Story, Cyworld

Japan has Mixi, Line

Taiwan has Wretch


Part IV:

A)      Next, Linkedin, that special BSNS, how is its development in APAC?

Well, I would say uneven popularity across 14 markets. Personally as a native Chinese, I have never been a fan of Linkedin, currently I have 259 connections, but apart from my colleagues and bosses, I really cannot name one person whom I value as my true “professional connection”. Sounds tragic? Well, to be honest, I really do not care.  

Were it not for the request from my former boss, I would not have bothered opening a Linkedin account for myself. Were it not for my duty of inviting attendees for my company event, I would never feel the urge of taking the initiative of connecting with anyone. Hope my “Grass Root” Chinese perspective would shed light on the sluggish growth of Lindedin in China.

B)      What if you still would like to promote sth on Linkedin?

Based on my client’s data, I would suggest markets like Australia, India, Singapore, New Zealand, Hong Kong. And the obvious logic behind is these markets are proficient in English language.

In conclusion, every point sounds damn simple, right? After all, internet landscape of 14 markets in APAC is not that hard to grasp, I suppose.   



By Cécilia Wu
English & Chinese Editorial Manager