You may have thought about expanding your brand into China, but why only stop there? In this week’s instalment of our APAC blog series, we explore the possibilities of Southeast Asia and why some of the world’s largest digital brands are already tapping into this market.

Which countries make up the Southeast Asian market?

It may sound obvious, but we wouldn’t want to leave anyone out. When considering a digital marketing strategy for Southeast Asia it’s important to understand the region’s make-up. The market consists of the following countries: Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar (Burma), Peninsular Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

These countries are all governed by The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), a regional intergovernmental organisation comprising of the ten Southeast Asian countries above. The combined population of ASEAN creates the world’s third largest market with more than 630M people.

Why the Southeast Asian market?

Southeast Asia is experiencing a rapid growth of the internet, digital, social media and mobile activity. With more than 370 million internet users in January 2018 and double-digit growth in most segments and most countries of the region, the digital sector is booming and attracting a lot of interest from big brands.

If we look at SEA as a single block – SEA regroups a large population of digital users that take it to levels where it can stand the comparison with the leading global markets (US, EU, China) for all digital activities: internet, social media, mobile and mobile social. However, it is the region’s growth numbers for online activity that are even more impressive. The region has seen high double-digit growth in all segments.


Internet penetration increased by 58%

Social media penetration increased by 55%

Mobile connectivity increased by 141%


This growth has primarily been enabled in 2018 through the expansion of technological infrastructures that support internet and mobile connections in Southeast Asia and should continue at a similar trend for more years to come.

The large and growing digital population should help sustain digital business expansion and keep on attracting more and more businesses online, providing new ways for marketing in Southeast Asia and enhancing the fast-growing Southeast Asian e-commerce sector.

It’s already started:

Two of the largest e-commerce giants Amazon and Alibaba are already heavily investing in the ASEAN market. Amazon originally had plans to enter into the ASEAN market in Q1 of 2017 but delayed in favour of expanding into Australia first. They have now subsequently launched in Singapore this year. Alibaba, the company which, in many ways is China’s answer to Amazon, have invested $4B to acquire a major stake in Lazada, Southeast Asia’s largest e-comm player. They then integrated Taobao (the Chinese online shopping website and a subsidiary of the Alibaba Group) into the Lazada interface.

With these big digital players expanding into the ASEAN market, and the vast amount of growth in online activity over recent years, we predict that Southeast Asia will be the next hotspot for brands to capitalise on. Due to its untapped digital potential, this market is not to be overlooked or ignored, however a tailored digital strategy is vital for a successful expansion.


4Ps isn’t just another data-led performance marketing agency, we have offices across China and the APAC region. To discuss how your business could benefit from our knowledge of digital marketing across APAC, give us a call on +44 (0)207 607 5650 or email us at [email protected] for a no-obligation coffee and chat.