The study by Rakuten Marketing reveals 89% of UK marketers are now in a position where they are currently managing international campaigns. More than half (55%) are actively managing campaigns across Europe and a further 14% state they are also managing campaigns further afield.
Of those looking beyond Europe, 82% said they were targeting the fast growth potential of the APAC region with its established customer base of ‘premium buyers’. There is also potential in the Middle East’s ecommerce sector found in Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the UAE with fashion, travel and transportation being huge focus areas.
Other key findings from the international study found:
- To reach APAC effectively, UK marketers are personally using WeChat (36%). Similarly, 30% have tried Weibo and 18% have tried Renren.
- Voice has overtaken virtual reality as the focus for UK marketers with 44% targeting markets overseas. In particular, marketers targeting Europe (45%) and APAC (42%) are keen to adopt voice into their campaigns.
- 43% of Chinese customers are using QR codes for payments, and only 39% of UK marketers are prioritising the technology currently.
While nearly a quarter of marketers are in the privileged position of having a centralised global marketing team, just 11% say they have local marketing teams in overseas markets able to carry the responsibility for rolling out international campaigns. The majority (61%) are reliant on UK teams to take charge of global campaigns.
Anthony Capano, Managing Director, EU at Rakuten Marketing, comments, “In the UK alone, more than 35% of transactions driven for Rakuten Marketing clients are now taking place overseas, highlighting the significant international growth opportunity for UK brands.”
The international study, focusing on new high growth regions found that Asia-Pacific (APAC) is a region that is quickly growing in importance for UK marketers. 82% of UK marketers targeting this region confirm they see their customer base in the region as ‘premium buyers’. To reach customers, they are personally using channels such as WeChat (36%). Similarly, 30% have tried Weibo and 18% have tried Renren.
Following APAC, marketers are also expanding their global customer base by targeting the Middle East (7%) and South America (4%). Like APAC, the market in the Middle East is considered by marketers to be comprised of premium buyers with an appetite for luxury goods. The biggest ecommerce potential in the region comes from Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the UAE with fashion, travel and transportation being the most popular online shopping categories. Of course, it is important to be conscious of the diverse cultures in this region and distinct sales peaks.
The next frontier
From a technology perspective, voice has overtaken virtual reality as the focus for UK marketers with 44% stating Amazon’s Alexa, Google Home or Apple HomePod as key technologies to reach their target market overseas. In particular, marketers targeting Europe (45%) and APAC (42%) are keen to adopt voice into their campaigns.
Whilst display advertising remains the chief means of engaging audiences overseas (48%), marketers are fast realising the potential of social commerce (46%) given its success in eastern markets where social platforms such as WeChat double up as marketplaces.
Marketers targeting APAC should also realise the popularity of QR codes in the market. At present, just 39% of UK marketers targeting this market are prioritising the technology – despite 43% of customers in China using QR codes for payment through AliPay and WeChat Pay.
Display is closely followed by affiliate marketing which is considered a key marketing tactic by 44% of respondents. In particular, the affiliate channel is considered the most important tactic in Asia-Pacific by 52% of respondents and in the Middle East (48%) and Europe (45%).
Capano continues, “It’s important to keep an open mind and understand that consumer behaviour and the perception of your brand varies market to market. Therefore, experimenting with local channels and technologies to gain insight into what appeals to your international consumer will help uncover what resonates. Similarly, by identifying and partnering with key players in market, you will quickly receive feedback into performance and how your brand is being perceived.”
With such specific market variations and knowing that only a small percentage of marketers have local marketing teams who are able to carry out this localised activity, it is important that marketers worldwide are being empowered to run international campaigns, with the right technology to support them in this endeavour.
The research study commissioned by Rakuten Marketing was carried out in April 2018 by Morar Research. Survey respondents comprised 400 active UK marketers of various levels of seniority.