4 Challenges Brands Face Selling in SE Asia

Rebecca Brown

June 20, 2023


Brand executives have a great opportunity to grow their brand internationally when expanding into South East Asia (SE Asia). The region has huge potential for incoming brands—94% of urban SE Asia digital users have fully adopted ecommerce, with the highest income group seeing ecommerce as an integral part of their lifestyle.

But expanding into SE Asia isn’t without its challenges. From various regional product regulations to creating content in multiple languages, brand executives may easily be overwhelmed while dealing with these challenges. As a trade partner throughout the SE Asia region, Pattern is aware of the challenges brands face and how to overcome them.

1. Challenges in Product Regulation and Registration

The SE Asia market consists of six key economies (Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam), each having its own product regulations and registration process. Entering the SE Asia market without a trade partner means setting up a separate entity to obtain import trading licenses and registering your product in multiple countries/languages, which can be a long, difficult process.

2. Challenges in Pricing Strategy

The SE Asia region has many different currencies, which calls for a robust pricing strategy to navigate the nuance of appropriate pricing. Brand executives should also be prepared to deal with the threat of price erosion due to parallel imports and counterfeits from unauthorized sellers.

3. Challenges in Platform Operations

Selling your product successfully in the SE Asia region takes a team of local experts to provide customer service in at least six different languages. Additionally, brands should localize their social media content in all six regions and languages in order to engage all possible consumers.

Brands also need to be aware that consumers in each region have different preferences for social media platforms. For example, Tik Tok is most common in Indonesia and the Philippines, while Instagram and WhatsApp is used most in Singapore and Malaysia.

Nuance is important too—diverse local influencers and social channel preferences makes marketing to consumers a challenge.

4. Challenges in Logistics Operations

A brand entering into SE Asia must have a solid operations strategy in place in order to reach widespread consumers in the area. SE Asia covers the 2 largest archipelagos in the world with approximately 25,000 islands. Of consumers in the SE Asia region, about 41% live in suburban areas and 22-62% live in rural areas. So, logistics costs and strategizing for the complexity of the region are huge considerations for brands,

These consumers value the convenience of online shopping, especially a few key factors:

  • Free delivery
  • Same day delivery
  • Easy returns

Increase Your Brand’s Opportunities in South East Asia with Pattern

Growing your brand in South East Asia is a great way to expand your brand presence internationally. Though there are challenges, many of them are not only solvable, but, in some cases, avoidable. Here are a few solutions Pattern offers to brands wanting to expand into South East Asia:

  • Ensures your product is registered correctly and adheres to local regulations
  • Provides regional experts who can guide your brand in making the right decisions and using your resources wisely
  • Offers proprietary data and insights to help deal with issues in pricing strategy
  • Supplies partner brands with a solid operations strategy to reach widespread consumers

As a trade partner and worldwide ecommerce accelerator, Pattern has the resources necessary to successfully launch brands in new marketplaces throughout the world.

Interested in expanding your brand to South East Asia? Contact us.

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