Marketing Featured Southeast Asia

Budget Direct Insurance taps Tug anew for digital marketing

Singapore – Budget Direct Insurance, the online digital insurance company in SEA, has reappointed digital marketing agency Tug as its partner. Tug was engaged by the company in 2020 to manage link acquisition and competitor analysis to boost local search rankings. 

Following the renewal, the agency’s scope has been extended to include content, UX and conversion rate optimisation services (CRO), content strategy and landing page experience.

Budget Direct is part of an international insurance group providing insurance solutions for policyholders worldwide. Meanwhile, Tug, which also has offices in Sydney, London, Toronto and Berlin, is a specialist in performance media and uses a smart combination of data, media, content and technology to deliver improved return on investment for brands. 

The account will be managed by Darran Hong, the recently appointed SEO Director at Tug Singapore, after the agency opened its doors in Southeast Asia earlier this year. 

Willy Bilaro, digital manager for SEA of Budget Direct Insurance, said, “Having partnered with Tug for a number of years, we have been impressed by the depth of experience and their strategic understanding in driving digital awareness and engagement with our brand. The launch of its office in Singapore means we now have an [on-the-ground] presence which will only facilitate closer collaboration and results for the business and we’re delighted to continue our partnership.” 

Karen Soo, managing director of Tug Singapore, commented, “Budget Direct Insurance is a leading insurance brand and one we are proud to be working with. As the digital marketing landscape continues to evolve, we look forward to continuing Tug’s association to ensure we deliver on their marketing objectives and return on investment.”

Technology Featured Southeast Asia

Sea reportedly shutting several projects, downsizing staff 

Singapore – Tech conglomerate Sea, is reportedly shutting down several projects, as well as having staff number cuts, according to a report by Reuters.

Sources told Reuters that its gaming livestream business and its development arm Garena would be cut, as well as staff working at Booyah!, a gaming livestream and community app, would be let go and the app would no longer be updated.

In addition, Sea Labs, the tech conglomerate’s development arm, was shutting some of its biggest experimental projects and cutting staff, including blockchain and public cloud projects.

In a statement to Reuters, Sea said that they have made some changes to improve efficiency in their operations that impact a number of roles, as well as focusing on the long-term strength of their ecosystem.

Sea is the parent company of regional e-commerce giant Shopee.

Meanwhile, some of Garena’s popular developed games include League of Legends, Arena of Valor, Point Blank, FIFA Online 3, and Free Fire, which was banned in India, after government officials allege that data collected from Free Fire was sent back to servers in China.

Main Feature Marketing Partners Southeast Asia

There is actually a definitive strategy that turns consumer insights into trailblazing marketing

Singapore – The business of marketing is nothing but a pursuit of innovation that seeks to replace ‘older’ problems with ‘better’ ones. While the internet has blessed us with an ecosystem that generates overflowing data, the ‘better’ problem now is how do we strategically and intelligently translate this marketing data at hand into solutions that are a win-win for both the brand and consumer?

In the recently concluded webinar by MARKETECH APAC and, the latter’s CEO, Julie Ng, gives a presentation to discuss the three things that boggle marketers’ minds the most in the midst of transforming marketing intel into groundbreaking marketing.

These are (1) Ensuring ROI, (2) Getting signals rather than noise, and (3) Conducting consumer research with minimal resources. At the heart of putting in place an effective ‘consumer insights system’ is this simple yet compelling framework which is called the Consumer Insights Loop.

The ‘loop’ is so straightforward that upon learning it, brands can go ahead and apply it right away in their most immediate marketing concerns.

 The Consumer Insights Loop consists of three steps: Feedback – Action – Outcome.

Julie said that the same strategy is being adopted and embraced by top Silicon Valley companies such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Uber. And what these companies have found as most effective is first, treating consumer insights as a feedback mechanism in everything they do (feedback). The second is directing that feedback to tie it to a new business action (action), and then lastly, to close the loop, measuring the outcome of the new action (outcome) and then repeating the process all over again – using the consumer insight extracted from the new action as the baseline feedback to start and develop a new business action.

As an example, Julie uses the case of a telecom whose objective is to look for a promotional campaign idea to increase roaming usage data.

As a starting ‘feedback’, the telecom found that roaming prices are currently a big hurdle to consumers, and that insight revealed that the audience, prone to sharing their experiences online, would use data 71 times more if charged at a lower rate. With this, the telco created a campaign that charged lower roaming tariffs and a messaging that played around the theme of ‘holiday spam’. When measured, the campaign had actually resulted in a 90% increase in the telecom’s social conversation volume and off-the-chart brand metrics.

In the presentation, Julie also shared insights on how to identify and acquire ‘signal’ from ‘noise’ in a trove of overflowing data. She said that in order to successfully distil a ‘signal’, you have to be intentional, targeted, and specific on the type of data you’d like to obtain. 

Furthermore, in order to confidently say that a consumer insight is indeed a signal that leads to an action and is not a noise, we need to meaningfully close at least one round of the loop. However, even if it is indeed a signal, you would need to close the loop at least twice in order to get meaningful business results. 

Learn more about what Julie has to say with regard to refining and optimising your consumer insights strategy through the on-demand webinar. 

The webinar, with the theme Consumer Insights Power-Up 2022, gathered marketing leaders in SEA to discuss how brands are building and implementing their best practices in consumer insights. The industry discussion saw Jia Nina, the Country Marketing Head of BigPay, and Tanushri Rastogi, the marketing lead of Popeyes for APAC gracing the panel, while Neeraj Gulati, partner at Accenture Song, joining the discussion for a fireside conversation. 

Register HERE to get your on-demand access.

Main Feature Marketing Partners Southeast Asia

SEA marketing leaders gather to discuss mobilising consumer insights into groundbreaking marketing

Singapore – MARKETECH APAC, in partnership with, recently gathered marketing leaders in the region to shed light on how brands can refine and fortify their brand and consumer insights strategy.

On July 27, brand and agency heads from Accenture Song, BigPay, Popeyes, and shared a space in the webinar ‘Consumer Insights Power-Up 2022’ to discuss how they are best leveraging consumer insights to deliver marketing and advertising that cuts across consumers. 

In the keynote presentation, CEO of, Julie Ng, revealed the ‘magic formula’ that materialises consumer insights into smart business actions. She also shared how to identify ‘signal’ from ‘noise’ in a goldmine of data that is available today, as well as the key ways to effectively gather these ‘signals’. 

Moderated by MARKETECH APAC’s Regional Editor Shaina Teope, the Country Marketing Head of BigPay, Jia Nina, and the Marketing Lead of Popeyes for APAC, Tanushri Rastogi, delved into a panel discussion in which each shared how their brands are uniquely building up and implementing their brand insights structure. In this panel, audience learnt how brands from fintech and F&B breathe life into marketing intel and realising it into campaigns that not only persuade consumers into action but also into products that elevate consumer experience.

To cap off the fruitful discussion, the webinar saw a fireside chat between’s Julie Ng and Neeraj Gulati, partner at Accenture Song. The two talked about how to develop an insight-driven marketing campaign, and how targeted and strategic consumer insights, in the end, help to ensure ROI. 

The webinar drew 153 marketing professionals out of 424 registrations. The attendees came from a variety of industries, including consumer products, telecommunications, tech, retail, banking, transportation, and consulting, and most hailed from the markets of Malaysia, Philippines, Indonesia, and Singapore. Those who took part were from companies Astro, Beiersdorf, Boost Holdings, Globe Telecom, Heineken, J&J, L’Oréal, PETRONAS, Porsche Singapore, redONE Network, Rustan Commercial Corporation, Smartfren, Smartone, U Mobile and many more.

Shaina Teope, regional editor of MARKETECH APAC and also moderator of the panel, commented, “Marketers are in a continuous challenge of transforming an intangible but crucial asset as marketing data and shaping that up into something that would be deemed beneficial for consumers and revenue-generating for brands. This industry discussion is important because expert minds from the brand and agency side are given the platform to share tried-and-tested methods in doing just that so that brands need not start from the ground up.” 

Julie Ng, CEO of, remarked, “Many marketers know that consumer insights are important to drive growth, but not many know where to begin and how to elicit tangible and relevant results from consumer research with minimal resources. I hope my presentation not only answered these questions, but also inspired a growth and agile mindset: build a consumer insights system, not a consumer insights project because a system is something we will keep using, iterating, repeating and improving for our competitive advantage.”

Meanwhile, on the partnership with MARKETECH APAC, Ng commented, “Honestly, this is the first stress-free webinar I have partnered up with. I could focus entirely on preparing my presentation without worrying about everything else – project management, advertising and promotion, ensuring quality webinar attendance, and most importantly, transparent communication – because I trusted MARKETECH APAC would deliver. And deliver they did.” 

On-demand access to the webinar is now available. Get your access HERE.

Marketing Featured Southeast Asia

Shopee’s parent company named top retailer in SEA

Singapore – Sea, the parent company of leading e-commerce platform in the region, Shopee, bags the top spot as the top retailer for the Southeast Asia region based on sales in 2021, as seen from the latest data of Euromonitor International. This was two places up from last year’s rankings where in the previous report, Sea fell behind Indonesia’s e-commerce Tokopedia, the top retailer for the said year, followed by Seven & I Holdings, the holding company of 7-Eleven. 

Sea recorded sales of $16.06b 2021. It’s the same brands showing up for the top three retailers in the region only their places shuffled – Tokopedia ended second with $12.88b in sales, followed by Seven & I Holdings with $10.85b. 

Meanwhile, Chinese retail & tech giant Alibaba comes in fourth, followed by Indonesia-founded convenience store Alfamart. Indonesian conglomerate Salim Group also makes a comeback, while we see two Thai retailers entering the upper 10 – Central Retail Corp and Charoen Pokphand Group. 

In the top 10, Vietnam’s Mobile World JSC enters the list, while Philippines’ SM Retail also retains its crown as one of the region’s top retailers.

The report notes that the retail industry in Southeast Asia is largely fragmented, where growth primarily comes from companies with a regional presence. The biggest pattern we see for the period is the dominance of e-commerce platforms such as Shopee, Tokopedia, and Alibaba reflecting the pace of channel shifts. E-commerce players outperformed other distribution channels, especially in markets with 

In 2021, e-commerce grew more than 30% in Southeast Asia and is expected to reach over $165b by 2026. This makes the territory a lucrative target for global e-commerce players.

The report notes that while this is the case, a general or broad strategy will not work. Conquering the market is complex and regional e-commerce players must create localised strategies catered to various cultural needs.

Platforms Featured Southeast Asia

Grab launches new enterprise service, GrabMaps

Singapore Grab announced its new technology GrabMaps, a new enterprise service that Grab can leverage to capture the US$1 billion market opportunity in Southeast Asia per year for its mapping and location-based services. First developed for in-house use, GrabMaps was created to address Grab’s need for more hyperlocal solution to power its services.

Currently, GrabMaps offers location-based services for all Grab verticals in 7 out of 8 countries it operates in, and Grab expects to be fully-sufficient with GrabMaps by Q3 2022.

Tan Hooi Ling, co-founder, Grab, said, “Grab’s focus is how we can always deliver technological innovations that address the needs of every Southeast Asian region appropriately, and GrabMaps is one example.”

According to Ling, the narrow roads and alleys commonly found in Southeast Asian cities, frequented by their driver and delivery partners often do not appear on conventional maps. “We have invested in turning this intelligence into a competitive advantage, enabling us to serve our customers and partners with the best possible experience, while driving efficiency and cost savings for the business. We are very pleased that soon we will be fully using our own mapping technology,” added Ling.

Mapping, pick-up point technology such as points of interest (POI), and route intelligence are vital parts of the core features that platforms like Grab rely on. Currently, GrabMaps supports more than 800 billion API calls per month across various Grab services. 

Internal data also shows that for countries that have made full use of GrabMaps, the ease of finding the right pick-up point for transportation bookings has increased by an average of 3%, while the accuracy of estimated travel time (ETT) has increased by 1% regionally, with some countries experienced an increase of up to 7.8 percentage points.

The growth of street images in GrabMaps in a span of a year in Jakarta.

The main advantage of GrabMaps lies in the principle of community-based mapping that involves consumers, business partners, and Grab’s fleet of driver and delivery partners.

The GrabMaps solution draws on new data from millions of orders and rides served every day, where feedback from partners is obtained directly real-time information, from road closure information, business address changes, and more. Driver-partners and delivery-partners also have the opportunity to contribute to developing our maps, collecting pick-up points and other data such as street images, street names, traffic signs and more to earn additional income. With this, GrabMaps is not only superior in terms of accuracy, coverage and updates but also cost-efficient.

Philipp Kandal, head of Geo, Grab, said, “As superapp The leading company in the region, GrabMaps supports Grab to serve the daily needs of millions of consumers every day. With our track record and deep understanding of Southeast Asia, we believe GrabMaps can be the best mapping platform of choice for Southeast Asia.”

Platforms Featured Southeast Asia

SEA consumers willing to pay more for sustainability, but affordability still most important: report

Singapore – Consumer data and analytics company Milieu Insight released the findings of its ‘Sustainable Beauty’ study, which aimed to find out their opinions of sustainability claims, and how receptive beauty product shoppers in Southeast Asia are towards sustainable beauty products in light of World Environment Day coming up on 5 June. 

The survey aims to find out opinions of sustainability claims, and how receptive beauty product shoppers in Southeast Asia are towards sustainable beauty products as the market of environmentally-conscious shoppers grow within the region.

New beauty brands have emerged in recent years to cater to a growing market of consumers – environmentally-conscious shoppers who are looking for beauty products that are good for them, and good for the Earth. Even large industry players are hopping onto the bandwagon, introducing sustainable products or product packaging and aggressively marketing them to be so.

The survey has shown that the majority of Southeast Asians are receptive towards sustainable beauty products, Singaporeans least so. Through a series of questions that asked Southeast Asian consumers about the likelihood of choosing a more sustainable option, they are generally receptive towards them with 93 per cent of respondents being very/somewhat likely to choose a chemical and toxic-free beauty product over one that is not. 

Meanwhile, 87 per cent are very/somewhat likely to choose products with 100 per cent recyclable packaging. Moreover, 84 per cent of the consumers are very/somewhat likely to choose cruelty-free products, especially Filipino consumers with 90 per cent votes on the category. 

The report also noted that 83 per cent are very/somewhat likely to swap to a refillable option if it’s available, while 73 percent are very/somewhat likely to try a water-less beauty product (eg. shampoo bar, bar soaps), versus conventional bottled products (eg. liquid shampoo and soap) 

Consumers are willing to pay more for sustainability, but affordability remains the most important. Affordability emerged as the top consideration in purchasing beauty products with 78 per cent., while 81 per cent of the consumers said that while they are willing to pay more for sustainable/ clean/ ethical beauty products, prices still have to stay within the comfortable range for consumers.

The report also found that consumers don’t blindly trust sustainability claims. About 67 per cent of respondents indicated that they ‘research more about the claims on my beauty products’ packaging to know if it’s really sustainable/ clean/ ethical’, especially consumers from the Philippines with 83 per cent and Malaysia with 72 per cent. 

Most agree that there should be more regulations to ensure that beauty products’ claims about being sustainable/ clean/ ethical are well-substantiated with evidence.” (88 per cent agreed that companies themselves also have to be transparent and clear in their communication of their products’ sustainability, well-substantiated with evidence. In addition, 86 per cent of the respondents agreed that ‘More should be done by companies to communicate to customers how their beauty products are sustainable/ clean/ ethical.’

Platforms Featured East Asia

South Korea’s taxi-hailing company Kakao Mobility to expand mobility roaming services across SEA

Seoul, Korea – South Korea’s taxi-hailing company Kakao Mobility, has announced its partnership with global mobility platform provider Splyt Technologies Ltd., to begin offering access to local ride-hailing services in seven Southeast Asian countries. Through the partnership, Kakao Mobility users will be able to book various transportation options in Vietnam, Thailand, the Philippines, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Cambodia directly via the ‘Overseas Travel’ menu in the Kakao T app home screen. 

Without any additional settings or logins, users can also book local taxis, private cars, and motorcycles while abroad through the Kakao T app. The technical integration has been developed by Splyt, the superapp enabler, while the transportation itself is provided by Grab, Southeast Asia’s ride-hailing platform.

The company said, users will also have various payment options via the Kakao T app. In addition to the automatic payment function that allows users to pay with a pre-registered Korean domestic card, the Kakao T app also supports mobile phone micropayments, eliminating the hassle of users preparing local currency in advance.

Splyt’s CEO, Philipp Mintchin, shared, “We are proud to expand our partnership with Kakao Mobility across more and more countries, enabling true mobility roaming via the Kakao T superapp. As travel resumes across Asia, our partnership will truly lead to a win-win-win situation – for Kakao Mobility, for Splyt, as well as for the traveller.”

To further simplify a user’s journey, the Kakao Mobility – Splyt partnership ensures that, when users call a vehicle from abroad, the Korean departure and arrival address automatically converts into their local language via real-time automatic translation messenger and current location photo transmission service.

Dong-Hoon Shin, head of Kakao Mobility MaaS Business Unit, commented, “This partnership is a cornerstone in Kakao Mobility’s aim to develop into a global mobility platform. Being able to provide a global roaming service allows Korean domestic travellers’ seamless mobility experience to expand into the overseas market.

“In addition, our advanced technologies for realising mobility services, such as our own map and routing engine, allow us to introduce various mobility services in a global market beyond simple means of transportation,” Shin added.

In 2018, Kakao Mobility introduced its first roaming service in Japan, and in 2019, it began providing the service in Vietnam. Kakao has chosen to launch now, as it expects significant increases in cross- border travel across Southeast Asia, with vaccination certificates now ensuring convenient and safe travels across the region.

Marketing Featured Southeast Asia

Elloe raises $7m in pre-seed funding, to expand to SEA

Philippines – Elloe, a US-based social e-commerce firm focused on Kenya and emerging markets, has announced that it has raised $7m in pre-seed capital, led by Mad Ventures, Inc. of the Philippines. The funds will be used to expand its Kenyan operations and enter the Philippine and Southeast Asian markets by 2023 and beyond.

Elloe is an AI-powered, social commerce platform that allows businesses to buy and sell things online across any messaging network. It was co-founded by Owen Sakawa, Abhijay Rao, and Aaron Madolora.

Elloe’s consolidated merchant gateway simplifies operations, logistics, payments, and marketing for businesses, resulting in increased sales and profitability. It is especially beneficial for micro-SMEs that seek to offer their products and services online without paying excessive commissions to third parties.

Owen Sakawa, founder and CEO at Elloe, shared, “We are very excited and humbled by the opportunity to partner with Mad Ventures, Inc and join its growing livelihood ecosystem as digital ambassadors to local Kenyan entrepreneurs and netizens.”

Technology Featured Southeast Asia

Adtech Quantcast launches cookieless solution in SEA

Singapore – Quantcast, global adtech company, has announced that its cookieless solution for the Quantcast Platform is now available in Southeast Asia. The company will now be able to assist marketers in the region in finding new audiences in cookieless environments, including Safari and Firefox.

The new cookieless solution was formally launched last September. The solution allows for cookieless activation with just one click and leverages multiple signals for a holistic view of the open internet. Ara™, Quantcast’s unique AI and machine learning engine, makes sense of complex multiple signal sets to understand behavioral patterns, which allows marketers to find, activate and measure audiences without third-party cookies.

Andrew Double, Quantcast’s managing director for APAC, believes that now is the time to begin testing and activating on cookieless environments ahead of cookies deprecation in 2023.

“We have enabled cookieless capabilities to allow customers around the world to reach, influence, and acquire new audiences on cookieless inventory and go beyond the competition for limited cookie-based impressions and inventory,” said Double.

In the first half of the year, Google, which has been eyeing cookie deprecation for 2021, has delayed such for another year. Similarly, tech giant Apple has also tightened its privacy features with an update that’s been designed to conceal a user’s identity amid browsing in Safari.