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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Listen Now – The New Need for Audible Branding

With forgetful consumers needing increasingly more ways to remember and connect with brands, many are exploring the potential of audible branding. Sonic hallmarks have been a powerful marketing tool since the 1970s, but the rise in popularity of smart speakers, podcasts, and streaming music platforms are creating a powerful new need for the tactic.

Increasingly, sound is becoming a primary paradigm for consumer communication. It’s currently estimated that over 2,000 new podcasts are launched each week. In South Korea, it’s expected 40% of households will have a smart speaker by year’s end – an increase of seven million users in just two years. By 2022, it’s estimated that global smart speaker revenue will be approaching US$20 billion per annum.

Fortunately, there are still many different ways to develop audible brands. From linking sound to certain functions (start-up, transactions) to a recurring riff for advertising campaigns to certain instruments or even music genres, there’s a wide variety of tactics to help make an organisation more memorable and engaging. With the widespread proliferation of new technologies, many communicators may need to start rethinking their approach to brand in such terms.

Thinking Flexibly With Foldable Technology

In the past few months, at least six technology companies have either launched or announced a consumer-level product with a foldable screen. While the majority focus has been on the smartphone market, brands have also been unveiling new innovations in home entertainment and computing.

With four of the six companies based in China and the remaining two based in South Korea, Asia Pacific communicators are uniquely positioned to leverage the new technology for marketing communications. Foldable technology is a compelling and attention-seeking development and has the ability to significantly change how consumers, professionals and workplaces relate to technology. Screens may be omnipresent, more discreet, or both.

The obvious examples relate to consumer spaces; a family entertainment area with a roll-away television screen or more durable and compact smartphones for young people. However, with modern workforces seeking more flexible working environments and the ‘Talent War’ poised to grow more difficult in 2019, foldable technology may provide new opportunities to re-envision standard office designs to appeal to new talent audiences.   

The Rising Impact of Automation in Asia

With approximately 65% of the world’s industrial robotics operating in the region since 2017, Asia Pacific has long been the dominant growth market for automation – but that growth is starting to accelerate. And, so is its impact. By 2023, Asia Pacific is expected to be home to over a million retail automation machines alone. In markets like Singapore, nearly half of all workers surveyed claim their roles have been impacted by automation. 

Among professionals, this is expected to have a profound impact on feelings of job security and company loyalty. In terms of consumers, there’s a risk of substantial backlash – either from a perceived compromise in customer service or from protests over workers’ rights. As automation becomes embedded in more and more industries and markets in Asia, communicators will need to manage brand reputations very carefully.

Writing in the Harvard Business Review, Professor Ellen Enkel of Zeppelin University emphasises that, to trust in new innovations, consumers need to experience reliable performance, a thorough understanding of the process of the innovation and an appreciation of the innovation’s purpose. The challenge for many communicators going forward will be delivering these experiences for those impacted by automation.

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