If I were to come up with a new slogan for Asia, it’d be Intensely Asia. Forget Truly. Unique. Amazing. Even Awesome.
That’s because I believe everything in Asia is so intense these days it’s almost frightening in an exhilarating kind of way. Like the feeling you get from a free fall when you skydive or bungy jump. You fear it but you crave it.
Firstly, there’s the urban intensity of life in Asia. As I mentioned during my introduction to the webinar WIT did with Tnooz on Wednesay, “Marketing to the new traveller in Asia”, life in Asia is increasingly urban and intense. (Video of webinar below)
Some of the world’s mega cities are in our region. Secondary cities in China, India, Indonesia are bigger than the big cities elsewhere. In tiny Singapore, you feel the intensity even more. (Picture: Japanese youths escaping urban intensity on a local beach – for a taste of this intensity, watch video below)
Say you are a poor kid growing up in the heartland here, but you’re no more than a 30-minute train ride from the three towers of conspicuous consumption that is Marina Bay Sands – what does that do to you? You yearn for the wherewithal to consume. You can’t afford to relax. You do that and someone else takes your place up the ladder to success.
So you need to have an intensity in competitive spirit to get ahead in this small metropolis. In China, with its massive population, well you just need to compete intensely at all stages of life – from getting a place in school to jobs to just getting a seat on the bus.
What does this urban intensity do? Create an overwhelming need for escape otherwise you go insane – this is why I believe the market for short, frequent breaks will explode over the next few years in Asia.
So moving onto the second intensity factor – the proliferation of low cost airlines which is making it immensely affordable for people to do just that. Half of all air seats in Asia will be low cost in 10 years’ time. In Changi Singapore, low cost airlines now make up 26% of traffic.
The NATAS Holidays 2012 last weekend enjoyed S$108 million in collective sales, eight per cent more than the S$100 million record set at Holidays 2011. The top five popular destinations are Europe, China, Korea, Taiwan and Japan.
That’s how badly Singaporeans need their breaks.
Think how badly the Japanese need theirs, living as they do in their cities and their work culture, and you’ll understand what low cost airlines will do to revive the Japanese travel appetite for escape.
Third, the intensity of hotel development. Starwood’s opening a hotel every 10 days here. Accor’s ramping it up like there’s no tomorrow as well. So someone’s got to stay in all those rooms right?
Fourth, the intensity with which we in Asia are embracing social media and smartphones. In Japan, Kei Shibata, CEO of Venture Republic, said one in two searches are already done on mobile. In India, Mario Jobbe, COO of Circos Brand Karma, said one in four minutes of time spent online is spent on social networks and that 80% of online spending is on travel. Imagine the opportunity to market to Indians using social? Emilie Couton, director of hotel solutions, Accor Asia Pacific, said that the growing women's market in Asia would also increase the intensity of social media use.
When we did a poll during the webinar to find out which channel the audience, most of whom lived in Asia, would be investing in, the top choice was social media, which surprised Kevin May, editor of Tnooz, because he said the answer would not have been that in Europe.
For a culture that’s always been considered inscrutable by the West, we across Asia are pouring out our thoughts into the universe and sharing unreservedly everything we eat, do, think and feel.
Some of my friends are so intense at sharing, they post several times a day on their pages. During my high school reunion in Penang last weekend, there were as many smartphones as girls and the most common remark was, “Post it on Facebook, can?” And I was pestered almost everyday to post my photos because I didn’t do it instantly, and the second I did it, ping, a comment. Intense.
Perhaps the historians will look back on this period and call it the Golden Age of Sharing. I’d rather call it the Unbearable Lightness of Sharing.