Southeast Asia (SEA) is a hot topic, especially with the Affiliate Summit APAC only weeks away, however there are a few things to weigh up, when entering into SEA. eCommerce is booming in most verticals in SEA. Unlike the rest of the world, SEA has its own unique brand of marketing for one main reason: it is a melting pot of diverse cultures, religions, and more.

There are four parts to understanding the region and they include: 

  • Getting to know the SEA consumer persona and the challenges of marketing to them
  • How key trends shape the growth in general
  • The initiatives that are making the market so unique
  • Takeaways and changes for growth 

The SEA Consumer Persona

In just about six years, Southeast Asia has become one of the most exciting places for ecommerce. Its unique characteristics is made up of a very diverse, multicultural market that spans languages, socio-economic status, and even infrastructure and preference for payment methods. 

As its online consumer base continues to climb across ASEAN’s top six economies, ecommerce is primed for further growth also because of its predominantly young demographic – 70% of its population is under the age of 40. 


One of the major shifts in how to market to consumers here is how advertisers adopt mobile strategies to create a market fit in a mobile-centric region where smartphone penetration and access to low-cost feature phones become primary connections to the internet. Countries like Singapore lead the way in smartphone adoption, and others like Indonesia and Thailand have leapfrogged desktop PCs altogether. 

On top of that, socio-economic status plays a big role in adopting strategies in price, promotions, and value-add – playing to the tune of how consumers can afford purchases based on their disposable income. With varying GDPs per capita, most transactions are predominantly small albeit increasing because of a growing middle-class in Southeast Asia. 

Always-on sales and initiatives

With a growing economy in ASEAN, the SEA consumer continuously spends more than they did the year before. One of the major drivers for this is an “always-on” sales strategy and its frequency of large sales seasons across the years. This is centered around catering for the region’s culture mix and to mirror retail tactics to shift spending online. 

Deep discounting and subsidies – alongside heavy marketing influence more shoppers online, contributing to growth in just about every category from fast moving consumer goods, clothing & apparel to electronics, travel, and more. The aggressive tone of promotions are also seemingly led by leading marketplaces, which command the lion-share in traffic across the region.