APAC: How A Diverse Region Takes On Diversity

Perhaps no area of the world faces as big a challenge in designing products and experiences for consumers than the Asia-Pacific region..

 APAC: How A Diverse Region Takes On Diversity

by Joshua Gliddon

Posted on 12-19-2019

Perhaps no area of the world faces as big a challenge in designing products and experiences for consumers than the Asia-Pacific region.

Some facts make that clear: APAC comprises 48 countries, which are home to 60% of the world’s population—some 4.3 billion people. Within this region, 2,300 languages are spoken and a multiplicity of religions practiced. APAC is also home to a myriad of ethnic groups, all with different needs and cultural practices.

For APAC marketers, the ability to embrace such diversity in designing their customer experiences and marketing campaigns begins by embracing diversity within their teams.

“If you have a group of white, middle-aged dudes in a room brainstorming about a business issue, then you’re going to be solving the problem for those guys and those guys only,” noted Katja Forbes, managing director, Australia and New Zealand, at DesignIt, a WiPro subsidiary with 18 studios around the globe.

The solution? “When you bring together people from different racial and ethnic backgrounds, and when you include people of diverse or non-binary genders, you’re solving a problem for the edges,” Forbes told CMO by Adobe. “And when you solve it for the edges, you’re also solving it for the middle.”

Customer and employee experience strategist Yuri Kruman agreed that improving the customer experience starts at home: Brands must build on the diversity of experience within the organisation itself.

“Companies must hire people from different professional and personal backgrounds [to] find new, higher-level solutions to renew, innovate, and create new lines of revenue, save costs, increase profitability, and otherwise move the company toward the leading edge,” Kruman told CMO by Adobe.

Diversity In The Fast Lane

With a diverse team in place, the next step, of course, is for brands to re-examine the way they market to their diverse audiences. National Roads and Motorists Association (NRMA), a New South Wales, Australia-based provider of roadside assistance services and insurance products, is a case in point. It has about 2.3 million multicultural and multilingual members ranging in age from 16 to 100.

Peter Sewell, creative director at design firm Zam Agency, was the NRMA’s chief creative officer for more than a decade. Under his guidance, the NRMA undertook a program to reach people from diverse backgrounds after concluding that its white, male-centric approach meant it was missing out on a large customer base.

“We realised we needed to think creatively around a solution for these audiences,” Sewell said. “We had to help our customers, and potential customers, along a journey as simply as possible, taking them hand-in-hand, like teaching a child to ride a bike.”

To reach this greater diversity of customers, NRMA conducted research into who they were, where they lived, and what languages they spoke at home. This research enabled the organisation to translate marketing materials, advertising, brochures, and posters into community languages with culturally appropriate messaging.

According to Sewell, the result was a deeper engagement with non-English-speaking communities, as well as an increase in membership numbers from those communities. Anecdotally, this process also polished up the NRMA’s image with those who spoke community languages.

“Marketing for the NRMA is all about helping people,” Sewell said. “It’s simple to translate a message into a community language, but the challenge is getting the tone and style right, as well as the content, for the audience you’re trying to reach–and I think we achieved that.”

Unifying The Travel Experience For All

Another example of a brand targeting diverse cultures and geographies comes from Designit’s 2017 project with India’s Ministry of Civil Aviation. The idea was to transform India’s fragmented domestic aviation industry into a digitally unified travel experience.

To accomplish this, the firm spent months following how travelers from different regions, castes, and dialects navigated the travel experience. It also ran focus groups. The result? It learned that people felt hassled, they had to produce multiple forms of identification at multiple checkpoints, and their journeys were often delayed or made untenable because of these factors.

These insights led to the development of a digital identity, called DigiYatra, applicable across all of India’s cultural groups. It streamlined the identification process and was extensible into other aspects of a citizen’s life when they needed to provide ID to government or financial services.

“The important components of design that we used in building DigiYatra included non-linguistic elements, icons, and other graphic features that were cross-cultural and non-specific to any particular group,” Forbes noted. “This maximized the reach of the program and allowed us to talk to diverse groups.”

One Size Does Not Fit All

The ability to take an experience or product and then customise it for a diverse consumer base is a formidable undertaking for marketers everywhere, but especially in a region as broad as Asia Pacific. It takes a team in place that itself is diverse, coupled with thorough research and creative thinking, to design customer experiences and campaigns that speak across cultures, creating a win-win for both marketers and consumers.

Topics: Experience Cloud, Digital Transformation, Advertising, Marketing, Customer Acquisition, CMO by Adobe

Products: Experience Manager, Experience Cloud, Target