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Culture Matters: How Different is Retention in Asia-Pacific vs. the West?

When marketing to audiences in different parts of the world, the challenge is finding the overlapping areas where marketing and retention tactics are just as effective

Lauren Dowdle
September 15 2017

No two customers are the same. It doesn’t matter if you only have local customers or ones scattered across the globe. They all have their own list of preferences and expectations, which you’ve probably been tracking with all the data you’ve collected on them (hint, hint).

While no two are alike, there are some common customer trends based on their location— and that includes what type of retention efforts are the most successful. And what works in one region might not for another.

Take Asia-Pacific (APAC) and the West. These two cultures aren’t just separated by land and ocean: They also have several differences such as what citizens want from brands and how companies retain them.

So what might be a great customer retention technique in China might not have as big of an impact on retention rates in the United States, for example. Or, maybe a certain type of channel works best to reach people in France but not so much in Indonesia.

Don’t just try a little bit of every retention tactic to see what sticks in your target area: No marketer has the time or resources for that. Instead, use these proven customer demands and retention strategies for APAC and the West to better customize your customer retention plan.

Create Different Channels

No two customers are alike. Some prefer to interact with you via email, while others want to engage with you on social media. And the next day, those two groups could swap preferences.

So, offering multichannel options is a must to retain customers — and it’s especially important in ASPAC: 91% of customers in China, 86% in Indonesia and 84% in Singapore say organizations should always have multiple channels to meet their needs. Video chat is an especially popular channel in APAC, as well.

On the other side, only 82% of Americans and 79% of people in the UK expect companies to offer different channels. While the West doesn’t find it as important for companies to have multiple channels, there’s still a high number who do, which makes it a vital component of retention.

Offer Free Stuff

There’s nothing like a good sale that prompts customers to make another purchase — and that’s something most everyone can agree on. Both Western Europe, APAC and the United States are about equal on how customers value discounts, with 65%, 63% and 58% respectively stating that it’s important.

Consumers also value receiving a gift or free product. Rounding out their top preferences and expectations is free shipping, with 46% in the West, 39% in APAC and 57% in the United States stating that waiving the shipping fee goes a long way.

Turns out, “free” is a pretty universal reward. Plus, it’s a great way to keep them coming back for more.

As for the factor that means the least to customers when it comes to loyalty, Western Europe, APAC and the United States all equally say they are least swayed by a company recognizing them when they sign in or arrive.

Get the Conversation Started

Engagement is a major part of retention, and one of the best ways to interact with customers is through social media. Facebook, WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger are the most-used sites worldwide, followed by APAC platforms like QQ and WeChat.

APAC makes up about 60% of the world’s population, and a large part of that group is using social media — 1.43 billion to be exact. They turn to the sites to communicate, see insight from social influencers and for services.

To give you an idea social media’s impact in the West, there are 599 million active users in just the Americas. Users mainly use the sites to keep in touch with people, while a smaller group say they want to connect with public figures.

So, what does that mean for your retention efforts?

You need to understand how customers are using these sites to better engage with them. Consumers in APAC are more interested in finding influencers, whereas the West is more about building relationships. Encourage your team to find ways to meet those specific needs.

Keep It Simple

As consumers, we all want the buying process to be as simple as possible. But for those in APAC, ease of use is actually a top reason (90% of Chinese) they’re loyal to a brand. Whereas, only 50% of Spanish customers say the same thing.

That shows companies trying to retain their APAC customers that they should make actions like online ordering, shopping and navigating simple and straightforward if they want to continue to earn their customer’s business. You need to show you understand and care about what they value.

Get Their Attention

Staying top of mind with your customers is important no matter where you live. They can’t convert again if they don’t remember you’re there. But what’s the best way to grab their attention? The answer depends on where you are located.

Advertisements seem to work well in the West, with the largest online companies (Facebook and Alphabet) creating more than 90% of their revenue through advertising.

But in APAC, their largest company doesn’t even operate on an advertising model. Instead, they focus on a mobile-first approach that aligns with their customer’s needs and gives them more of a multipurpose use. (Remember, multichannel, multi-use is important to these customers.)

APAC would rather rely on word of mouth than traditional ads that are popular in the West.

We Aren’t That Different

The basics of customer retention really aren’t that different from one country to the next. We all appreciate companies having different channels, offering free perks, engaging on social media, keeping it simple and reaching out to us.

But, depending on where you’re located, there are some differences in how important each of those practices are and how to go about it. So, make sure you’re focusing your retention efforts on how and where they want it. Every culture is different and requires its own unique approach.

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Lauren Dowdle

Lauren Dowdle is an award-winning writer and magazine editor based in Nashville, Tenn. Her nearly decade-long writing career has covered everything from landscaping to marketing — plus being interviewed by Jay Leno and winning a backhoe-operating contest. When she’s not behind the keyboard, you’ll find her spoiling her four furry babies and exploring the city with her husband.

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