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The New Normal: How COVID-19 has Changed the Fundamentals of Influencer Marketing in Southeast Asia


This whitepaper explores and discusses the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the influencer marketing and digital entertainment industries in key markets in Southeast Asia, namely Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam, while also looking at case studies from China and the United States of America, which often set the standards and practices that Southeast Asian markets follow. 

The COVID-19 pandemic is an ongoing global pandemic caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS‑CoV‑2). On 11 March 2020, the World Health Organization, concerned both by the alarming levels of spread and severity, and by the alarming levels of inaction, characterized the outbreak as a pandemic (World Health Organization, 2020). The coronavirus has now infected more than seven million people globally, according to data collected by Johns Hopkins University (Johns Hopkins University, 2020). The virus outbreak first hit the Southeast Asian region in January, and has since impacted the countries hard. The economic impact of the pandemic is expected to be on par with the 1997-98 Asian Financial Crisis, or even greater (Center for Strategic and International Studies, 2020).

On 11 March 2020, the World Health Organization characterized the outbreak as a pandemic.



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With the COVID-19 pandemic that took over Southeast Asia early in 2020, the lifestyles and livelihood of both audiences and content creators have changed drastically. These changes sparked major pivots in consumer behaviour, both in media consumption and expenditure. For influencers and brands to adapt, they will need to embrace these changes and wholly adopt them within the content and marketing strategies.


Audiences are now equipped with widespread digital-purchasing capabilities, and brands should look on tapping on eCommerce strategies.



In a post COVID-19 world, audiences are now equipped with widespread digital-purchasing capabilities, and brands and influencers should look at tapping on ecommerce strategies such as live commerce and social commerce as new revenue opportunities. In terms of content output, new opportunities from the adoption of new formats and platforms are expected to stay for the long term, and  brands and influencers should look to optimizing their marketing content for these platforms. While COVID-19 has been difficult and tough on the industry, it has also presented new opportunities. In an industry that is always changing, brands and content creators will need to be nimble and adapt to these changes to survive, if not prosper.

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