Ruder Finn's latest study is a playbook for converting online content to sales


Ruder Finn has revealed several deep insights regarding online content with the results gained from its latest research study.

The “Entertain Me. Inform Me. Inspire Me. Feed Me: How to Satisfy Southeast Asia With Your Content” study was conducted among 1,648 people aged 18-35 people with an even (49% versus 51%) male to female mix. Respondents were predominantly (70%) full-time employees, hailing from Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, the Philippines, and Vietnam. It was aimed at revealing several elements of consumer interactions with online content, including their preferences, consumption, sharing activity, and beliefs.

Despite regularly voiced industry concerns about its efficacy, branded content was given another dose of validation, as 63% of content consumers surveyed said they had made unplanned product purchases motivated by online content. The top three reasons offered for them doing so were that the content offered an incentive or promotion, it was visually attractive, or it provided detailed information about the product or service.

But there are specific demands this audience has for its material. 59% are asking for more content that provides entertainment, 52% want more content that informs and educates, and 40% want more help and advice. Additionally, 63% of respondents said they prefered content from international brands as opposed to local content from home brands.

“The research argues for brands to strike a balance between appealing to the emotional needs of a consumer while also sharing the relevant information to influence the purchasing decision,” says Martin Alintuck, managing director, Southeast Asia for Ruder Finn. “At the same time, consumers seem to desire an ongoing story or flow of content that brings them back to familiar information and places. And they are very open to not just watching content but reading it as well.”

With no surprise, given the never-ending chatter about the importance of authenticity, 69% of consumers surveyed wanted brand content to be more “honest” and “real.” In addition, 78% would rather consume “factual” material over “emotional” content.

“The work to be done by brands revolves around ensuring their content creates a perception among consumers of authenticity, honesty and reality,” commented Alintuck.

But bucking against the oft-preached gospel narrative that video is the universally preferred online medium. Ruder Finn’s study showed that 52% of consumers would rather read content as opposed to watching it. Furthermore, an overwhelming 70% of respondents would rather they had the ability to continually return to for more information in a “digestable” fashion, not one of video’s traditionally stronger suits.

In the end, the research study was able to identify a top 10 list of preferences for content:

  1. It is entertaining or fun.
  2. It teaches something new.
  3. It is a passion topic for consumers.
  4. It is always up-to-date and keeps consumers informed.
  5. It is seen as trustworthy.
  6. It is visually attractive.
  7. It is part of an evolving story.
  8. It rewards consumers.
  9. It offers sales or promotions.
  10. It makes consumers feel like they are part of a community.