Will Kaye

Managing Director

Will Kaye

Innovation: The #1 Growth Driver for Companies Entering Southeast Asia


If your company is expanding its operations to capitalise on the growing base of consumers in Southeast Asia, your best bet is entering with an innovative approach. Innovation should be a central focus as your company expands to this region because it will give you the greatest competitive edge to drive rapid and enduring growth.

Many new products and services in various industries are emerging from this region, so to compete in this market, simply replicating what you do as you expand to the area won’t cut it. Between the rapid advancements in technology and the increasing pace of globalisation, staying innovative will keep you adaptable and competitive.  

What is Innovation?

Innovation means taking new, creative and unique approaches to solving the problems a company and its consumers face. It’s about doing things differently to get better future results. The more you value innovation at your company, the better you can create a product or service that beats the competition. With this in mind, our marketing strategy and digital consulting services provides businesses with solutions that help them maximise their communication efforts (and the bottom line) as they expand into the flourishing economy of Southeast Asia. We help companies communicate and justify their innovation initiatives to stakeholders and potential customers.  

Incremental Innovation

Incremental innovation is an approach to innovation every company should leverage, no matter their location. In today’s hyper-connected digital world, it’s easier than ever to collect data that can help companies analyse their products or services and their areas for improvement. With cutting-edge AI technology at your fingertips, you can collect and run data analytics to learn more than was ever possible in the past. By keeping tabs on what consumers think about your products, you can continually make them better. You can also get ideas from consumers to help you innovate new features, add-ons or changes to your existing products or services.  

Radical Innovation

Southeast Asia has become a hub for tech startups, which means radical innovation is highly relevant for businesses in this area. To stay competitive, your company should exploit new technologies, experiment with new business models and launch new deliverables the world hasn’t seen before. These examples of radical innovation may seem challenging or impossible, but they can also have the largest pay-offs.

Case Study: Unilever Indonesia

A great example of an international company that has expanded its operations to Southeast Asia is Unilever. In 2017, Forbes named Unilever Indonesia the 11th most innovative company in the world. In the same year, Unilever Indonesia was presented with Singapore’s Spark Award for best Indonesian brand. This award is given to brands recognised for innovative marketing strategies. In addition to creative marketing strategies, Unilever Indonesia also demonstrates innovation through its ongoing product development process that exploits the latest and greatest in the worlds of science and technology.

In creating a product, the company considers not just consumer demand, but also environmental and societal impact. The secret to Unilever Indonesia’s impressive innovation is its partnerships. It’s partnerships with lab scientists, specialists, academic institutions and suppliers help them leverage breakthrough technologies to outdo its competitors, bring new products to the market and move into new markets.

How Can You Be More Innovative?

Innovation can sound like an daunting subject, so how do you make it practical? There are 3 keys to promoting greater innovation in your company as it expands its territory into a new region like Southeast Asia.  

1. Open Channels for Ideas to Flow

To increase innovation at your company, employees need to be continually communicating about ideas. When these channels are open, new ideas can come through at a surprising rate, as employees become encouraged to think and spark change in the company and its products or services. Observe innovation in other companies to help inspire new ideas for yours. Regularly run brainstorm sessions on both your deliverables and the company’s operations, structure and practices, with the end goal of increasing consumer and employee satisfaction and increasing the company’s bottom line.

Another channel you can utilise for ideas to flow is social media. Your brand is most likely already capitalising on the ways social networks enhance your brand and connect you directly with consumers. Using social media to communicate about new ideas opens it up to real consumers to weigh in on your products, services and brand. You can use social media to capture ideas and to test your new ideas on your audience. Ask them what they want to see in future products and take note of any complaints they express.

2. Get Access to Better Resources

To stay innovative, you need to stay up with the latest innovations in the world of technology. Technological advancements drive growth in every other industry, so you can stay ahead of the curve by making the most cutting-edge resources available to your employees. One way you can leverage the best technology on the market to become more innovative is to collect data using data analytics tools featuring AI deep learning technology. When you launch a new product or service, you can quickly gage the response and make innovation less risky by course-correcting because you have a better grip on your performance.

3. Make Connections and Build Partnerships

As exemplified by Unilever Indonesia, partnerships are a major key to greater innovation in your company. You want to collaborate with companies that align with your philosophy but have different skill sets so you can go places your company couldn’t go alone.

Leveraging Innovation to Succeed in Southeast Asia

We specialise in helping companies grow and expand to new markets. Our passion is partnering with companies in industries such as power and energy, retail and food, healthcare and service, agriculture and mining, as well as the financial sector, to boost their innovation and maximise their growth. Our extensive experience made us experts in the region so we can help our clients inter smoothly and see greater success. Contact us today for more info.