22 things for 2022

2022 22 things Sandeep Joseph
By Sandeep Joseph

Blink and it’s December. Where did 2021 go?

In keeping with year-end traditions, here are 22 things you should explore and think about, as a brand marketer or agency, for 2022.

WORK-LIFE CHANGES

Malaysian office workers want a hybrid workstyle, though more than 50% are now back to working from their offices (sources: The Star, GWI etc). Two years of the pandemic have made them realize they can work from home, at least some days of the week. Companies must cater to that, and to all the resultant opportunities that flow from it: improved home working infrastructure, better furniture, more data plans, renovations and so on.

Omicron is likely to disrupt life again. Be very wary. Remember the optimism at the end of 2020 which was grossly misplaced?

The Great Resignation came upon us in 2021. It will even out in 2022, as people find their purpose, or discover the fact that their purpose isn’t fulfilled in the job they thought would fulfill it.

Two quarters of negative GDP growth is technically a recession, if I remember my Paul Samuelson correctly.

Forecasting for 2022 will be bleak, or like Unilever has done in the past, companies could just choose to not project, but proceed cautiously.

CONVENTIONAL RETAIL IS DISRUPTED

Over 70% of the country has engaged in e-commerce, the number jumping from 46% in 2019 (Statista). Covid is changing retail, and every brand needs an e-commerce strategy.

90% of consumers (Ampersand Discovery research) say they will continue to use food delivery apps in 2022. A new habit has been formed and the return to restaurant dining will be uneven.

FMCGs will find that anywhere from 5% to 30% of their sales comes online in 2022.

The US benchmark is 30% currently, for reference. Expect more retail disruption.

HEALTH REMAINS A PRIORITY

Health remains a top priority for consumers. Do we even need data to prove this? Sales of masks, vitamins, health products will continue to be strong.

Mental Health and wellness are critical. Over 22% of Malaysians are stressed at work, as per Global Web Index, and that’s higher than our stressed and kiasu neighbours. Brands could do more based on this knowledge.

PAYMENTS SYSTEMS ARE CHANGING

Touch ‘n Go eWallet has crossed 16 million users and is being used widely, replacing cash and cards. Furthermore, the company has launched financial investment product Go+ within its app, which has seen great traction. Expect more in 2022.

Over 42% of investors (GWI) are keen to consider crypto, because they want to liberate from traditional banking. Expect more alternative systems in the future.

NFTs are seeing tremendous interest.

Penang and Sabah lead the country (Google Trends) in this area, ahead of KL.

MEDIA HABITS HAVE NOT CHANGED THAT MUCH

TV is still relevant. Viewership went up then came back down to long term trend levels. While some affluent urban viewers may feel they are watching more streaming services compared to traditional TV,  the M40 and B40 are still heavy TV consumers. And the nature of TV itself has changed, with Netflix and Disney available via Astro.

Traffic on the roads is within 90-110% of normal pre-pandemic levels. Expect Out of Home ad spends, battered in 2020 and 2021, to come back up. There are deals and opportunities galore.

Malaysians will remain amongst the most internet-addicted countries in the world, spending more than 9 hours online today, a figure that’s growing at 1-3% annually.

SPORTS, ESPECIALLY FOOTBALL AND BADMINTON, WILL BE BACK

The stunning Malaysia Cup Final on November 30th had 20,000 fans in the stadium, and resulted in a several viral moments.

As the country overcomes Covid next year, it is expected that the sport would allow fans back into stadia. The fortunes of the Malaysian national team and World Cup 2022 will also be a marketing opportunity.

Badminton lovers feared no pipeline of heroes after Lee Chong Wei. The rise of Lee Zii Jia and Chan Peng Soon-Goh Liu Ying shows that new stars are here.

ADVERTISING GETS MORE TECHNICAL

Digital hovers at 60% of all ad spends in Malaysia, and is expected to grow. Traditional media like print has taken a severe battering, but the pendulum of credibility could swing back a little due to the extreme clutter, low memorability and ad fraud online. Digital technicalities will grow and get more complex.

Influencer marketing has boomed in the pandemic, partly due to film-making restrictions and also due to the success of bare-chested handsome men going live online to sell fish. Brands want the credibility and connect that influencers can bring, but the industry will need better professionalism, metrics and more process efficiencies.

The rise of the metaverse, AR and VR will continue, and these efforts will become more mainstream vehicles for brands trying to engage their audiences. This is a huge opportunity for creative and media agencies.

LUXURY IS BEING REDEFINED

51% of luxury consumers in Asia (including Malaysia, according to Tatler) have shifted their definition of luxury, valuing personalised products and experiences. 85% of luxury consumers believe wellness is a luxury, as they become more health- conscious and focus on sustainable alternatives.

SUSTAINABILITY UNDER THE MICROSCOPE

A host of companies have efforts ongoing in sustainability, but in the eyes of more eco-conscious consumers, they are still not doing enough. Expect more awareness and efforts from corporates to burnish their green credentials, and for affluent T20 consumers to demand more. Again, a massive opportunity for brands and agencies who “get” it.

Compared to 2020 and 2021, 2022 will be easier. But it’s a road filled with potholes and pots of gold.

Sandeep Joseph is the CEO and co-founder of Ampersand Advisory, a strategic media and data-driven consultancy. The company’s mission is “business results now!” and it has won numerous local and international awards.  The views expressed here are the author’s own: you can debate with him at [email protected]

2022 Sandeep
This piece was previously published on MARKETING WEEKENDER Issue 312

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