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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Fintech, Analytics & Banking Futures

Since the advent of the pandemic, financial sectors around Asia have been negotiating reputational challenges. A recent survey found less than a quarter of Asia Pacific consumers fully trusted their financial institutions during a crisis. Industry ratings for banks, meanwhile, have been in turmoil since March in many Asia Pacific markets.

However, new Asia Pacific technology solutions may be capable of transforming the complex reputations of the banking sector, even against a backdrop of global disruption and economic struggle. In response to the impacts of the pandemic, banks have begun to leverage analytics to heavily transform their business practices – to remarkable effect.

The impacts of the pandemic, for example, have heavily complicated traditional assessments of loan eligibility or potential investment return. Through analytics, banks in Asia are discovering new metrics through which to assess loan applications – resulting in loans being distributed to a more diverse array of applicants.

Historically, only 20% of small-to-medium enterprises in China regularly seek loans from banks – in no small part because securing loans is a difficult process for small businesses. However, with new analytics tools allowing for different loan assessment strategies, small businesses can be economically supported on an unprecedented level.

The flow-on effects are manifold. In addition to helping stimulate economic recovery and boost the reputation of the financial sector, such innovations also allow for new sources of revenue in an era when traditional lending profits have taken a significant hit. By investing and promoting new fintech solutions, savvy businesses may find surprising windfalls.

For brands and communicators, it's illustrative of an increasingly (and increasingly necessary) holistic approach to navigating and sidestepping reputational crises; synthesising business practices and communications priorities to foster new, creative solutions to help build more resilient, adaptable businesses. 

With recent research attributing up to two-thirds of an organisation's market value to reputation, such an approach may offer substantial advantages to brands and sectors in the volatile and unpredictable times of the current era. 

Pop-Up Retail: The COVID-Friendly Future?

Even prior to the colossal upheaval of 2020, the global retail sector was navigating a transitional and evolutionary period. Trends in Two Minutes, for example, explored the impact of the rising retailtainment trend in 2019 and ‘New Retail’ in 2018. But, with the upheaval of the past year, new complications have accelerated the sector’s disruption.

Lockdowns have obviously had a substantial impact on foot traffic. The concurrent growth in ecommerce and the increasing pressures of shifting architectural needs of the social distance era have only presented greater challenges. Finally, the rising prevalence of struggling ‘zombie’ businesses has only further complicated the retail space.

Essentially, the retail sector must negotiate a world wherein many businesses struggle to earn enough for their lease and only a limited amount of customers will be able to be physically present in a location at any given time while offering a compelling point of difference to their online competitors.

In response, ‘pop-up experiences’ have leapt to the fore. Exclusive, temporary, unique, and entertaining, pop-up retail brand and store events are currently helping businesses boost engagement and revenue in the new era – while sidestepping many of the difficulties of the newer retail reality.

Deployed effectively, it’s a practice that can minimise risk and maximise engagement for organisations throughout the entire retail pipeline. Lease-holders can better deploy dormant storefront assets, startups are afforded greater freedom for experimentation, and brands can activate different audiences in new markets with less longterm expenditure.

The creativity and flexibility of the approach allows for many different tactics to boost brand visibility, engagement, and revenue in a myriad of ways. Some online outlets have used existing customer data to pinpoint ideal physical locations or enter new markets; others have launched small arts festivals to leverage existing cultures and communities.

The challenge, as in all nascent developments, is simply ensuring one is employing best-practices and engaging with the trend with a strategic outlook

User-Generated Content: Riding The Wave

It’s well-documented that the circumstances of 2020 have precipitated an unprecedented explosion in content consumption. One streaming platform managed to nearly equal its subscriber growth for 2019 in just the first six months of 2020 – securing over ten million new subscribers in just three months, at one point.

However, it’s important to note that 2020 has also facilitated a similar growth in content creation – especially on social channels. On one platform, content creation has grown by approximately 60%, year-on-year. Coupled with the major growth of micro-content video platforms seen throughout 2020, it emphasises the arrival of a new content era.

Specifically, a significant expansion in user-generated content. For brands and communicators, such an era represents both risk and opportunities. With businesses moving away from traditional marketing spend toward digital and technology campaigns and freezing ad spend, leveraging user-generated content may prove a winning tactic.

However, the velocity of the current content environment and volatile unpredictability of user communities represents a plethora of risks for brands unprepared for vigilant strategic management. Recent history is littered with campaigns hijacked by users for their own amusement.

To ensure a genuine return on investment in the new content explosion, a sound digital strategy will be essential.    

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