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Digital marketing making a difference in Asian MF space

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While the use of digital media by the Asian mutual funds industry lags that of the West, the pace of acceptance and adoption is expected to increase, according to Cerulli Associates.

This is one of the findings of the firm’s inaugural Asia Marketing and Sales Organizations: Customizing Strategies for Local Markets report. The publication examines and provides insights on sales and marketing strategies in Asia ex-Japan, including Southeast Asia.

Asset managers have started to invest in technology and tools to catch up to consumers' online experiences in other industries. Though some managers still think this is optional, Cerulli believes that engaging and servicing end-investors via digital media will become the norm going forward.

The use of digital tools differs across markets-more locally focused markets such as China, India, and Korea see greater use of this new technology compared to regional markets such as Hong Kong and Singapore.

In a Cerulli survey of about 4,000 retail investors across four markets (Hong Kong, Taiwan, China, and Singapore), websites of mutual fund companies was ranked second as the medium through which investors obtained investment information. For Chinese and Taiwanese investors, this was ranked first.

"Many foreigners correctly believe that China is a guanxi society, but this is not limited to China. Asians in general, tend to trust their relatives and friends, and the people or brands they refer them to. As such, word of mouth will have a great impact on people's perception of a fund manager," says Rachel Poh, a senior analyst with Cerulli who co-led the report.

Cerulli observes that more asset managers are investing in digital social media technology and tools to catch up with consumers' online experiences in other industries. "Digital media is permanently changing the game, and more managers need to get on board," notes Yoon Ng, Cerulli's Asia research director.

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