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Asian consumers turned off by emotional content, study finds, as risk of fake news dents confidence

Emotional content is being shunned in favour of practical information by Asian consumers, while the majority are worried what they read and watch may be fake, a new study has found.

It also found Asian markets prefer content produced by international brands rather than material created by APAC firms.

Research conducted across six Asia Pacific markets by PR agency Ruder Finn revealed that 78% favour factual and straightforward information over content that tugs on the emotions.

But there are significant variances across countries. In Vietnam, 41% prefer emotional content, while in Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand it falls to only 9%,  14% and 17% respectively.

Singaporeans and Filipinos are a little more emotional, with a quarter preferring content that stirs something inside.

The report suggested the preference for factual information was a “promising indication for brands, especially B2B companies that need to inform and educate their consumers about their product or service”.

However, Ruder Finn urged brands to strike a balance between appealing to the emotional needs of a consumer “while also sharing the relevant information to influence the purchasing decision”  .

Content expectations by country

Of concern across the region is that 66% appear to favour content from international brands, with suggestions the quality is better, even if less relevant than local content.

The picture in particularly bleak for local brands in Singapore with more than 70% of people preferring international content.

Whatever the origins of the content, consumers are accessing masses of it, the report found.

Of 1648 people quizzed, only one in 10 consume less than five hours a week with almost two thirds reading or watching more than 11 hours of content or more.

More than three in 10 consume at least 20 hours each week.

Surprisingly, 52% still prefer to read content than watch. In Singapore, only 35% prefer to watch, rising to 53% in Thailand and the Philippines.

Entertaining or fun content is the most popular, followed by content that teaches and informs, Ruder Finn concluded.

In Singapore, consumers are most influenced to make a purchase by content that includes testimonials, is relevant and provides detailed information about a product or service.

“Clearly, consumers in Singapore are open to, interested in and motivated by brand content, and companies should be proudly labelling their content with their brands,” Ruder Finn Southeast Asia managing director Martin Alintuck said. “The work to be done by brands revolves around ensuring their content creates a perception among consumers of authenticity, honesty and reality.”

More worryingly, the study identified fake news as a “real concern” with 60% of respondents suspecting they are being fed content that might not be true.

A further 50% believed it could be dishonest, with almost four out of 10 concerned it might be biased in some way.

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