Three steps to effectively prioritize your digital strategy in ASEAN

In Southeast Asia, multinational executives are constantly faced with the question of whether to treat ASEAN (the Association of Southeast Asian Nations) as an integrated, fast-growing region, or a set of complex markets with diverse economic drivers. When it comes to business decision making in the region, while a more centralized approach will help companies leverage strategic synergy, local market nuances also require country-level consideration.

This challenge is particularly acute in the digital sphere. Southeast Asia has a rapidly developing digital ecosystem that provides companies with wide-reaching online channels for customer engagement. However, while the ASEAN-5 markets (Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, the Philippines, and Vietnam) share several regional trends in digital development, MNCs should also evaluate each market on its own merit.

With this in mind, FSG has developed a three-step digital market prioritization framework that will help executives prioritize the ASEAN-5 markets for localized customer-facing initiatives.

Step 1: Prioritize digital markets

First assess the digital readiness of the ASEAN-5 markets by considering tech environment, local infrastructure & skills, and sector usages, as well as market impacts; it will also be critical to measure market opportunity for the same countries based on market size, growth potential, and market stability.

Once your digital readiness and market opportunity rankings are ready, segment your target markets into four groups. Digital-ready markets should be your immediate priorities for focused investment in localized digital customer engagement strategies. You can also identify offline-first markets that offer huge market potential yet relatively low online channel returns, as well as quick-win markets that can be low-hanging fruits for digital investments.

Step 2: Identify strategic gaps

After determining your priority markets, decide what strategic areas to focus on (i.e., consider questions like: “Which online initiatives should we invest in first, social media campaigns or an online CRM system?”).

For MNC executives that seek to identify strategic gaps in digital initiatives, a three-pronged strategy to optimize demand generation, enhance customer service, and leverage customer insight will be enormously helpful. Use FSG’s digital customer engagement diagnostic—divided into these three critical strategic areas—to evaluate the organization’s strategic focus and effectiveness in the ASEAN-5, and create a list of top digital channel focus areas for improvement.

Step 3: Develop localized plans

With inputs from Steps 1 and 2, evaluate the results to create strategic alignment on priority markets in Southeast Asia for online investment, and identify specific next steps to enhance digital customer engagement.

By utilizing FSG’s framework, companies can fully capitalize on the region’s fast-growing online channels and prioritize digital investments to obtain the highest ROI in terms of both focus markets and strategic next steps.

This strategic prioritization process in Prioritizing Digital Markets in ASEAN is Part One of FSG’s two-part series on digital customer engagement in ASEAN. With priority markets and strategic gaps identified, companies must then further tailor online channel plans for top-tier markets and design targeted solutions to fill in these strategic gaps.


Stay tuned for our upcoming blogs on Part Two: Localizing Digital Strategy in ASEAN. We will be sharing the six most critical drivers shaping Southeast Asia’s digital development, and a few best practices that other companies have successfully adopted to improve digital customer engagement in the region.

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