Digital Account Manager, Kirsty Kirkhope, reflects on her first stop in Malaysia on her year abroad remote working…

For those of you who didn’t get the memo in September I packed up all my pens, notepad, laptop, general gubbins and moved to Kuala Lumpur under a programme called Remote Year. Remote year essentially allows carefully selected applicants to travel the world, share knowledge, meet like minded professionals and, most importantly, continue to work for their current employer in 12 different locations across the world.

I am of course incredibly lucky to work for such a forward looking and progressive company as BIG, who can see the merit in allowing me to take this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to broaden my and BIG Partnership’s professional horizons.

First stop is the wonderful city of Kuala Lumpur.

Kuala Lumpur is the capital of Malaysia with a population size of over 1.5 million, a completely overwhelming concept to a girl from Scotland where the whole population is only 5 million. Other points of interest are the multitude of incredibly tall skyscrapers, the insane volumes of fast moving traffic and the eye-wateringly in-your-face consumerism. There’s over 40 different shopping centres here in one city! With this legion of shops comes intense competition and therefore tactical marketing techniques are required. I did some exploring to establish if the marketing techniques differ here in Malaysia in comparison to the UK? Generally the answer is no although I did discover a concept I wanted to understand in more detail.

Marketing in Malaysia

A couple days ago I went to a Girls in Tech event at INTI College and had the pleasure of chatting to the College’s digital marketing and media manager, Cheryl Moy. Cheryl is from Malaysia and has been working at the College for a couple years, she’s also a Travel writer. Cheryl had come along to the event to get some snaps for social media to promote all of the great speakers, lectures and eager attendees. From speaking to Cheryl it was clear she understood that successful marketing in the modern age is about personalised and user generated content. This type of content, I begun to understand, is the first step on the road to inclusion marketing. Inclusion means the act of intentionally engaging with a diverse group of people or communities. In this case taking pictures of the students during various events and sharing them on social media. She confirmed it had proven successful in promoting the College to stakeholders and potential new students.

Kuala Lumpur has an incredibly diverse population, you can hear up to seven different languages being spoken here. Thus inclusion marketing works really well here in Malaysia. Inclusion at its core is about making people feel included into a pre-existing group or structure. Diversity marketing, on the other hand, singles out a group because they are diverse. Many companies market their products to diverse communities through segmenting their audience. For example, a business may want to reach the over 50s professional male market and have therefore will design bespoke ad creative to appeal to this audience and have it placed in specific media and platforms online. This is a tried and tested strategy and is proven to drive results, however, it feels like here in Kuala Lumpur perhaps this isn’t the primary method to market anymore, it’s inclusion marketing.

I’ve learned, after some research, that actually this new trend of inclusion based marketing isn’t just in Kuala Lumpur. It’s appearing globally too to include more content featuring all races, all sizes, LBGTs, over-50s etc into the main arena for big marketing campaigns. So rather than isolating a specific audience; companies are starting to use content that will appeal to different segmentations in their mainstream advertising and marketing tactics. The question of course is does it work to drive sales like segmentation has done for years? At this point there wouldn’t be enough data to decide but I like to think that if nothing else inclusion marketing, where the content features and appeals to not just to the white, rich and beautiful, will have a positive impact on our society in someway.

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