“There’s an app for that!”
It’s been nine years since Apple went to market with its iconic advertising slogan, introducing an entire generation to the future of mobile computing. Today, its App Store hosts more than 2.2 billion apps—meaning that for almost any conceivable purpose, there is already an app for that. Likely several.
This marketplace maturation has led to a trend in APAC, one in which brands are less likely to create their own branded application in favor of partnering with existing mobile-only ecosystem holders.
For many brands, such partnerships represent the opportunity to tap into another company’s audience. It also is a recognition that the benefits of owning a platform are outweighed by the task of reinventing the wheel.
In addition, partnerships can even be generative, unlocking massive audiences whose data can contribute to a superior customer experience than either could have achieved alone.
“Through our partnerships with retailers, brands, and publishers, we generated hundreds of millions of data points,” said Pressy Sankaran, head of AU/NZ at Criteo. “With this really granular shopping data we can stitch together a well-optimized customer ecommerce experience.”
With that in mind, let’s take a look at five recent APAC collaborations and how they’re creating value for all involved parties—as well as their customers.
Uber And AirAsia
In a newly announced partnership spanning 16 APAC markets, Uber and AirAsia, Malaysia’s largest airline, have joined forces so that users can easily book transport to and from an airport through the ride-sharing app.
By integrating up-to-date flight data into the app’s booking logic, Uber ensures a driver is waiting for customers as they exit the airport, despite flight delays or interruptions.
In this partnership, the two brands are primarily offering their users convenience by linking elements that traditionally sat on different ecosystems, while also cross-promoting their services.
Of course, for many brands, sharing data can be quite a challenge—especially in some of Asia’s more complicated legislative environments.
“It’s about partnering with the ecosystem that can contribute to cohesive brand messaging, while also respecting the individual consumer’s privacy level,” Sankaran told CMO.com.
Hyundai And Grab
Also last month, Hyundai announced a partnership with ride-hailing firm Grab, which operates across eight Southeast Asian markets and serves as many as 3.5 million rides every day.
As part of Hyundai investment in this Singapore-based firm, the two companies will co-develop services throughout the region, including one that will showcase the manufacturer’s eco-friendly IONIQ Electric vehicles.
The deal provides the car maker with an invaluable opportunity to gain experience in one of the world’s most aggressive ride-sharing markets. It also exposes 77 million customers who have downloaded the Grab app to Hyundai’s electric fleet. This familiarization could be the key to promoting electric vehicles in a region where they’ve not yet taken off. In Singapore itself, for example, there were just 520 electric vehicles registered at the end of 2017, making up just 0.09% of the island nation’s auto market, according to The Business Times.
Alibaba And Emtek
In Indonesia, Alibaba payments subsidiary Ant Financial is trying to jump-start the country’s mobile payments ecosystem by integrating its technology into Blackberry Messenger, which boasts 63 million users.
Working with Elang Mahkota Teknologi (Emtek), the local developer of Blackberry Messenger, the partnership will seek to integrate into Blackberry Messenger’s full digital ecosystem, which includes shopping, videos, and online games.
While China’s third-party mobile payments total exceeded ¥20 trillion (approximately US$3.2 trillion) in Q1 2017, according to iResearch Global’s report, only one-third of Indonesians have used a mobile payments system in the last quarter, according to FT Confidential Research. A KPMG report assigns this to Indonesia’s inconsistent internet connectivity and low trust in electronic payments, driven by a population largely without bank accounts.
Despite these obstacles, Indonesia’s e-commerce could grow from $1.7 billion USD to $46 billion in just 10 years, according to a joint ecommerce report released by Google and Temasek.
Lego And Tencent
Last month in China, Danish toymaker Lego partnered with mobile giant Tencent to localize its international content and create bespoke digital assets for the Chinese market.
(l-r: Jacob Kragh, general manager of LEGO China; Julia Goldin, LEGO group CMO; Thirty Sun, VP of Tencent; Anna Gao, VP of Tencent Games)
As part of the partnership, Tencent will provide a digital platform for Lego to publish video content. It will also support Lego Life, the toymaker’s social network and provide the infrastructure for Lego’s Boost coding toys.
What’s more, Tencent will develop new online Lego video games designed for the Chinese market, rather than localizing its recent, multimillion-dollar “Lego Worlds” game.
The move not only gives Lego access to Tencent’s massive domestic audience, but it will ensure the game is relevant to the Chinese market, which has different conventions around game design, art, and monetization.
SEEK And SpherePay
Early November saw the launch of Singapore mobile payments newcomer SpherePay, in partnership with fashion retailer SEEK and bike-sharing scheme oBike. As incentives to customers to join the mobile payment ecosystem, SpherePay secured exclusive discounts, customer perks, and cashback schemes for both services.
So far, the partnerships seem to have been highly successful for SpherePay, which signed up more than 20,000 users in its first month thanks to an oBike promotion.
While initially SEEK and oBike are collaborating primarily on customer acquisition, SpherePay leaders have indicated their intention to form strategic partnerships based on the value of its user base data.
Indeed, the true value of mobile partnership is unlocked by deep integration, collaboration and data sharing, Sankaran said.
“Partnerships are so much more than just one plug-and-play KPI,” he added. “In the battleground for the user’s attention and their transaction, you’ve got to be able to provide the right information, to the right user, at the right time and ultimately, offer the right price.”