Asia is a diverse economy, encompassing some of the most sophisticated and affluent consumers in the world—along with many who live under the poverty line. Many APAC Breakthroughs are bridging the divide between both, finding solutions that fit in between societal gaps. A middle class is rising up in many APAC countries. An appreciation for quality over price and a desire for a meaningful experience is rising with them and driving consumers’ decisions— exemplified by brands like Bira 91 and Paper Boat in India. Consumers are also shifting toward brands that prioritize craftsmanship and personalization, with an authentic and differentiated story.
One of the biggest breakthrough drivers is access to mobile technology—which is booming throughout the region. Increased mobile internet access is revolutionizing daily life, and brands are finding new amenities and experiences to offer. Fintech and on-demand delivery are surging: Paytm, Naver, Timelio, and Kakao Pay are expanding and easing access to financial services alongside bigger players like Airtel, Samsung, and Jio. Delivery and e-commerce are exploding as well, as customers have come to expect brands to offer experiences on demand. Go-Jek in Indonesia, Ninja Van and Honestbee in Singapore, Rivigo and Flipkart in India, Shippit and Stylerunner in Australia, and Mercari in Japan are just a handful of brands helping to deliver more to customers’ doorsteps.
A fast-changing and diverse market, APAC is going to be home to even more Breakthroughs in the years to come.
Transport is a massive Breakthrough sector in APAC, with Didi Chuxing leading the region in ridesharing. Bikeshare from ofo and autonomous driving from Nio in China, cab hailing from Ingogo in Australia, and Grab in Malaysia are all evidence of a highly advanced approach to mobility—one that isn’t just about getting from A to B, but about the larger-scale changes that are changing the way we move, which in turn transforms society.
Optimizing Down Under
Australia is proving fertile ground for marketing technology brands. Startups like ROKT, which optimizes the customer journey, as well as Canva and DesignCrowd, which simplify graphic design for marketers, provide services that are sought globally.
One thousand Indias
Language, food, and culture in India change every hundred miles. For brands in India to establish a strong degree of connection with customers, they need to be able to understand the country’s cultural diversity.
Consumers in China have not traditionally played sports for fun and exercise at the level of other developed countries, but this is rapidly changing. As the country matures and people’s lives become more comfortable, they are joining gyms, running outdoors, cycling, and more, in record numbers.
The beauty industry in Korea is taking off due to the increasing popularity of K-culture among Asian consumers in general. The increasing influence of K-pop, K-drama, and K-movies is enabling Korean companies to set beauty trends across the region.
Japan’s breakthrough game
Japan is a hotspot for innovative gaming apps—including Gree, Mixi, DeNA, GungHo, and Colopl—and its manga apps are attracting investment from big-name publishers.
Investment in Singapore
Temasek, a sovereign wealth fund in Singapore, is investing in startups like Sea and ONE Championship, helping to fuel the dreams of Southeast Asian brands looking to list publicly in the near future.
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