Despite high levels of connectivity, brands face a struggle to connect with Malaysians via online channels, according to Kantar TNS’s latest "Connected Life" research.
The findings show that while Malaysians spend 7.2 hours online every day, the opportunity for brands to engage with them there is under threat, as consumers are mistrusting of online content and are sceptical of brand motivations.
The research revealed that sceptical Malaysians do not trust the content they are consuming online, as just 17% of connected consumers consider social media content to be reliable. This contrasts markedly with other Southeast Asian countries such as the Philippines and Indonesia, where 59% and 61% respectively trust social media content. Almost one in three (31%) also have concerns about how much control the social media networks have over the content that they see on their feeds.
"Malaysians spend a large proportion of their day online. We’re constantly connected to the internet thanks to our mobile devices and ever-improving data costs and speeds," MC Lai, managing director of Malaysia at Kantar TNS, said.
More importantly, marketers need to realise that Malaysians are not easy targets in this digital world. In comparison to other less developed countries in the region, Lai said:
Malaysian consumers are more mistrusting of what they see online, and are more uncomfortable with brands collecting their personal data.
Therefore, he added, brands need to step up the game and demonstrate the value they can bring to Malaysian consumers’ lives if they want to earn their trust and ensure that they are able to use these channels for meaningful brand conversations.
Trust in brands
The study also showed that trust in brands varies significantly between markets. In Malaysia, consumers are moderately cynical, with only 41% of the connected consumer population trusting global brands. This trust level falls significantly in other markets such as Australia (19%), however in emerging markets such as Vietnam, 54% of consumers remain trusting of these brands.
Circling back to personal data issues, the findings show that despite the benefits that can be delivered through sharing data, Malaysians are cautious of how much of their personal data they share online. About 38% of consumers in Malaysia object to connected devices monitoring their activities even if it makes their lives easier, compared to 15% in Indonesia. Over half (51%) of Malaysians have concerns about the amount of personal data that brands have on them, compared to 33% across the region. Malaysians are also found to become increasingly aware of the price they are paying for their connected lifestyles, and many feel on the losing end of an unfair exchange.
Trust is fragile, Michael Nicholas, global lead of connected solutions at Kantar TNS, said. Nicholas added, while brands in for emerging countries see higher levels of consumer trust today than those in developed ones, they should not take it for granted.
"To build and protect trust, brands need to put the customer first. That means understanding their motivations, understanding the right moments to engage with them, respecting their time as valuable, and being more transparent about how and when they collect and use their personal data. Above all, that means putting the customer first - something that many marketers have forgotten to do,” he added.