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A person browses a social media website at a Phnom Penh internet cafe in 2014.
A person browses a social media website at a Phnom Penh internet cafe in 2014. Hong Menea

Better aim for online marketing

Engaging online content and more targeted social media outreach are major keys for commercial success in Cambodia, whose youthful population has been identified as the world’s most receptive to social media advertising and content, a market researcher said yesterday.

Eelco Dijkhuizen, general manager of market research firm TNS Cambodia, said during a breakfast discussion hosted by EuroCham yesterday, that online connectivity was growing rapidly in Cambodia, with a third of the 15 million population and nearly half of all urban-dwellers now connected to the internet.

He referred to the findings of a Kantar TNS study, Connected Life, which found that the average Cambodian consumer spends almost two hours a day on social media networks and visits an average of 3.4 platforms a week – accessing the online content almost entirely through their mobile device rather than computers.

Given these trends, it is important for marketers to recognise their targeted audience, but also for them to understand how online users consume content on the internet, he said.

“When you look at the activity footprint of consumers, we see they mostly do instant messaging, access social networks, watch videos and read articles, and overall they spend about 3.5 hours a day online,” he said.

The study found that virtually all Cambodians who are online have a Facebook account. While this offers companies huge potential to grow the popularity of their products through targeted advertising on the platform, he cautioned that as online users receive a high volume of advertising, “it is imperative that you target your consumers properly in terms of where they are and when you target them”.

Online users still access traditional media such as television, radio or newspapers, but two-thirds of their time spent consuming media now takes places online. “I’m not saying TV is dead, but I am saying that digital is moving really quickly,” noted Dijkhuizen.

The study found that Cambodians were highly receptive to brand content on social media platforms, and 75 percent of online users share brand posts they find interesting or engaging.

“People in Cambodia look up to their peers more than they do celebrities, so using these people to activate your brand can help to spread the word much quicker because they are much more believable than a brand.”

Dijkhuizen noted, however, that firms generally should not focus entirely on digital advertising as traditional media is still very important in Cambodia – especially among the older generations.

“If you are selling a product to the mass market, you cannot just be online because two-thirds of the population is still offline,” he said. “If you are looking at more advanced products for younger people, I would move pretty much online.”

Chharoat Chhaleta, founder of Roserb, an online cosmetics and skincare boutique, said product marketing on the internet was replacing the role once served by television as a result of the rapid proliferation of smartphones.

She said while her company uses Facebook and Instagram to advertise its products, this reliance on social media was not suited for every type of business.

“Our target customers are mostly people from young generations aged from 14-25 years old because they are up-to-date in technology, and social media plays an important role to reach out to them,” she said.

“I think it’s still important to have traditional marketing as social media might be able to reach around three million people, but we also have a high percentage of the population who aren’t educated enough to get online, so products with a mass market target need both traditional and social media marketing.”

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