Trends in Two Minutes continues its ongoing coverage of the trends of the pandemic and examines the evolving transformations to business and communications throughout APAC as markets continue to strive towards economic recovery – and how best to navigate each development.   

Trends in Two Minutes is a monthly bulletin of trends hitting businesses across
Asia-Pacific with a focus on marketing and communications. 
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The New Opportunities of Digitalisation

The shift to ecommerce prompted by the pandemic has been well-documented. As noted in a previous edition of Trends in Two Minutes, more than 50% of consumers in markets like India, Vietnam, and even China embraced online shopping for the first time in the wake of lockdowns and quarantine practices.

Similarly, the need for decentralised (and heavily digitalised) workplaces throughout 2020 has been significant. As was also covered earlier in the year, such work-from-home arrangements have been integral to the containment strategies (and success) of countries like Singapore.

However, as 2020 continues to rapidly expand and reshape digital needs (for business, consumers, and governments), many governments throughout the region are accelerating their digital transformation with infrastructure investments to meet fast-evolving requirements during the crisis era.

The Australian government has announced a US$2.49 billion upgrade process for its national broadband network, for example. Singapore has relaunched the government LifeSG mobile app to encourage citizens toward digital transactions. The new app allows citizens access to over 40 government e-services.

Similar initiatives have also been announced in Vietnam, Malaysia, Thailand, New Zealand, and the Philippines. For brands and businesses, these accelerated digitalisation pathways represent a wealth of opportunity – and a reminder to reevaluate one’s digital strategies to meet the rapidly-evolving customer and stakeholder expectations surrounding digital experiences

Re-Evaluating Priorities: The Pandemic Life Change

COVID-19 has had a profound and almost immeasurable impact on general mental wellbeing throughout the region – exacerbating existing conditions and exposing previously-unaffected populaces to new experiences of depression, anxiety and trauma on a regular basis. In response, many are seeking change.

While many of the changes of the COVID era have been involuntary consequences of circumstance, the sustained challenges and heightened stakes of 2020 are now leading an increasingly number of professionals and consumers to switch careers, pursue passions, or relocate their homes to better align with their own values and priorities.

Research has found that, in times of uncertainty, people are more likely to engage in pro-social behaviours – actions that reinforce their connection to community. Coupled with the knowledge that decisions around purchases, careers, and services were increasingly values-led across all generations pre-pandemic, such changes seem almost inevitable.  

For employers, such changes emphasise the importance of catering to the cultural and community needs of employees in the modern era; ensuring values are consistently communicated and aligned throughout the business. For brands and communicators, it underscores the power of (authentic) values-driven communications and strategies.

Nostalgia: Old Comforts for the New Era

One of the more surprising developments of the pandemic has been the persistent nag of nostalgia. As early as April, it was becoming increasingly apparent that waves of adults were reconnecting with their teenage selves – from revisiting old TV series and books to picking up guitars for the first time in years.

Psychologists have been quick to point out that such behaviour is actually a vital form of self-soothing and self-care in times of heightened stress. In fact, nostalgia has been found to provide long-term mental health benefits. Studies have shown that those who regularly engage in nostalgia consistently report a greater degree of satisfaction with their lives.

For brands and communicators, such a phenomenon represents a vital insight for successfully engaging with consumers and stakeholders in 2020 and beyond. In considering product decisions and crafting strategies, it’s important to understand that today’s demographics are craving a nostalgic experience like never before.

The phenomenon also emphasises the increasing value of a sound analytics function for businesses. Without an appropriate understanding of a brand’s audiences, engaging with the strongest triggers for consumers will likely prove difficult. Effective use of data analysis to glean new insights and intelligence regarding target audiences will deliver a distinct advantage in the Asia Pacific market.

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