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Letter from Singapore: Year of the Rooster

27 February 2017, www.marketingsociety.com

The Observatory International examine Asia’s outlook in the Year of the Rooster

Chinese New year (also known as Lunar New Year) is one of the most important traditional holidays for the Chinese people. The day is rooted in centuries’ old customs and traditions and is one of the most popular public holidays. Apart from China, the day is also celebrated around Asia in countries like Korea, Bhutan, Vietnam, Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong etc., which follow the Chinese calendar.

Chinese New Year (CNY) is celebrated in many different ways across the world and red is the predominant colour in all the celebrations. According to tradition, red envelopes containing money are given by elders to the young and single. The red envelopes are symbolic of keeping away evil and bringing in good luck.

Year of the Rooster

The Rooster ranks tenth out of the 12 animals in the 12-year Chinese zodiac cycle. In Chinese astrology, each zodiac year is not just associated with an animal sign, but also one of five elements: Gold (Metal), Wood, Water, Fire, or Earth. Both the zodiac sign and the element shape the astrology of the year meaning 2017 is a Fire Rooster year. These element-sign combinations recur every 60 years.

Fire Rooster characteristics include trustworthiness, a strong sense of timekeeping and responsibility at work. People born in a year of the Rooster are very observant, hardworking, resourceful, courageous, and talented.

Roosters are pretty confident in themselves and they may need to draw on those talents and values to deal with some of the challenges ahead for Asia’s marketers.

The global economic slowdown is challenging all marketers and Asia’s marketers are no exception. Brexit, Trump’s presidential election win and the fear of similar outcomes in key European elections in 2017 is creating uncertainties in Asia as it is everywhere else. The positive factor for Asia is that growth is, and has been, healthy for some time (even during the most recent financial crisis) so, whilst a slow down would not be good, Asia will still remain a growth region.

For many commentators the underlying factors driving growth in the region (emerging economies / middle class, etc.) mean the Asia Pacific region still has the capability to achieve rapid growth. S.E. Asian countries in particular are seen to be placing more emphasis and priority on the digital economy and some are predicting that the region will see positive results from this in the next five years.

In terms of 2017 growth outlook, the south still reigns supreme. India, Indonesia and Thailand are seen as the region’s best performers of 2017. Whilst export-dependent economies (such as Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, and even China) are unlikely to see a rebound this year. Investment growth, a key indicator of economic health, is set to tick up to 5.6 percent this year, from 4.5 percent in 2016, according to DBS. Ultimately, the biggest factor that could weigh on Asia’s outlook is how Chinese demand holds up. Asia is expected to remain the world’s growth engine amid increased global macro uncertainty in 2017.

However as overall growth forecasts are being reduced across the world and the region, this in turn is likely to mean contracting marketing budgets as Marketers look for efficiency and effectiveness. Sales metrics continue to drive campaigns although other factors such as market share and the growth in customers have become increasingly more important as brands try to protect their position in challenging times.

The most resourceful, courageous, and talented of those Roosters might just have the edge.

Paul Davies is a Managing Partner, Asia Pacific at The Observatory International, Singapore.


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