With the main audience for most DTC brands young, open-minded, and tech-savvy, these companies will need effectively target the right stage of consumers’ buying journey with personalised, dynamic ads.

And with the Asian region populated with highly diverse markets, DTC brands must think about personalisation and localisation to appeal to their audience, according to Nickolas Rekeda, CMO of MGID, which is a global ad network specialising in native advertising.

In this Q&A with DTC Daily, Rekeda discusses challenges DTC brands face in this region and why native ads are important in helping them overcome these barriers.

DTC Daily: What are some of the main differences between DTC brands in Asia-Pacific and other regions?

Nickolas Rekeda: In Asia-Pacific, e-commerce retailers are less prominent than in other regions such as the UK and US. And, although the DTC model has had a slower uptake compared to other global regions, it is now gaining prominence.

A key difference in this region is that DTC brands cannot treat Asia as one-audience market. Asia is a highly populated, diverse region of languages, cultures, and even quality of life, so DTC brands have to carefully consider personalisation and localisation when appealing to different market segments.

Some DTC brands in India, for instance, are solving problems in specific niches. For example, lifestyle DTC brand Mother Earth focuses on enhancing artisanal livelihood, with environmental, economic, and socially sustainable methods.

How have these nuances impacted the way DTC brands in Asia-Pacific handle customer engagement and marketing?

Asian audiences are enormous in number and although each segment has its nuances, advertising is much cheaper across the entire region. Even though the initial hard work has to be done by thoroughly researching target markets, wider reach is achievable because of lower costs.

To further improve DTC, brands here need to understand consumer feedback to hone and refine their messaging to fully resonate with their wide-ranging audiences. For example, Tetra Pak has been appealing to their consumers by adding unique IDs and QR codes to their packaging, which can be scanned to receive discounts and offers for future direct purchases.

What key developments have you seen emerge amongst DTC brands in Asia-Pacific this year?

Brands have really come into their own recently. In the past, we saw more projects copied from the US, such as the Dollar Shave Club. Today there are more Asia-specific products such as SleepyCat moving into the market. DTC mattress brands are popular in the EMEA and US regions, but SleepyCat offers this direct luxury for the Indian consumer, demonstrating that brands are listening more to the need for localisation in the region.

In terms of marketing and customer engagement, what remain big challenges for DTC brands in the region and how should they resolve these?

Although internet penetration is growing rapidly across many different countries in the region, some markets are still less connected and this is resulting in broken audiences and inefficient communication.

The core audience for DTC brands are young, innovated, and open-minded, and are willing to buy and test a range of products. The challenge then lies in understanding consumer patterns. When targeted effectively at the correct stage of the purchase funnel with personalised, dynamic ads, brands can build a valued relationship with their consumers for the future.

How is native ad technology implemented differently for DTC brands as opposed to traditional brands?

In Asia-Pacific and, indeed all over the world, consumers appreciate genuine brands that have a great story to tell. Native advertising is all about storytelling. To do this, DTC brands implement native advertising tech that is driven by soft communication, rather than creating traditional sponsored native content. Through telling their experience, vision, and mission, directly to their consumers–with softer native advertising methods–DTC brands are able to achieve subtle and authentic messaging that resonates with their consumers.

Why should DTC brands in Asia-Pacific adopt native advertising over other marketing and advertising tools and channels?

Through reduced ad-blocking and increased brand appeal, which are two important benefits of native advertising over traditional methods, DTC brands can enhance their performance and build better direct relationships with their consumers.

One of the key unique points of native is its capacity to be non-intrusive and engaging at the same time. With DTC brands appealing to younger audiences who are tech-savvy and focused on investing their time and money in honest brands, native content is naturally one of the best formats of advertising to engage the right consumers, through soft selling and storytelling.

What should DTC brands keep in mind and pitfalls to avoid to ensure their native advertising strategy will yield high returns?

It is important for brands to ensure they aren’t focusing on one story alone. DTC brands also shouldn’t rely solely on advertising methods. They could go directly to publications and create quality storytelling projects, diversifying their messaging and approach to help achieve the best performance and ROI (returns on investment).