Six Overseas Marketing Trends You Should Copy


For more than a decade, I’ve ferried back and forth between the US and Asia as a content marketerOpens a new window and a growth coachOpens a new window with clients all over the world. What I’ve found is that while there’s a Starbucks on every corner, sometimes marketing in other countries can be quite different.

Here’s an example from ThailandOpens a new window , where they arguably produce the best commercials in the world.

Cultural differences definitely play a role, whether we look at marketing in Thailand or places closer to home such as France. The best marketing taps something deeper than culture, however, which is why I am able to work with people around the world even though I’m squarely American; the most impactful work touches the human experience, which is universal.

“The basics of marketing fundamentals are the same regardless of cultural or geographical location,” says Leanna DeBellevue, founder of international marketing firm, DeBellevue GlobalOpens a new window . “Learning what works in Europe can be examined and implemented within US trends effectively and vice versa.”

With that in mind, here are five overseas marketing trends worth copying.

1. Breaking Down Net Promoter Score

A cornerstone metric for measuring brand affinity is Net Promoter Score. NPS is an index between -100 and 100 that measures the likelihood a customer will recommend a company’s products or services to others. This is a proxy for overall satisfaction and brand loyalty.

While marketers the world over use NPS as an important brand metric, those outside the U.S. are drilling down more finely and understanding exactly what affects NPS so they can better influence it.

“After years of using NPS as a brand barometer, clients are getting serious about taking a more structured approach to manage that number,” says Sean Duffy about some of his international clients, founder of global marketing firm, Duffy AgencyOpens a new window . “We have isolated 10 key precursors to developing NPS, and thus growth potential, that work globally.”

2. Prioritizing Human Interaction Over AI

The U.S. and marketers in general are obsessed with artificial intelligence and its promise to understand customers better, increase automation, and customize campaigns to the level of an individual consumer. But overseas, application is sometimes more nuanced.

“A trend that is booming in the global space but may be dragging a bit in the US is providing opportunities for human connection,” says DeBellevue. “Research shows that people still crave human interaction, however limited.”

Thus some overseas brands are using AI and automated systems for efficiency, but keeping them in the background as much as possible or providing clear channels for human interaction when consumers want it.

This means a lack of AI responses, bot touch points and automated response, according to DeBellevue, with an ability to email a person directly or chat with an actual human.

3. Human Interaction During Isolation

The Covid-19 coronavirus has locked down and isolated consumers throughout the world. China and much of Asia have been living with the virus for months already, so Asian marketers are ahead of their U.S. counterparts in adjusting to this trend.

Currently, Asia marketers are focusing particularly hard on creating human interaction within marketing campaigns since consumers are craving it now more than ever.

“China specifically had to develop tactics in their marketing that simulate interaction but provide a layer of safety required to match mandates for seclusion,” explains DeBellevue. “Showing empathy for the pain points of their audience seems to be working well.”

4. Going Beyond Facebook

Except for China and a few other countries, everyone uses Facebook. This doesn’t mean that foreign marketers are relying on it as much as US brands, however. Because Facebook is so saturated, scrappy marketers outside the US have been finding great success with other social networks and a broader approach.

“Online, we see a lot more creativity with marketers across the globe moving beyond Facebook posts and finding ways to engage with users across the full spectrum of the social media available in their market,” says Duffy. “Some of my favorites have been creative use of Snapchat filters to promote brands.”

There are many social platforms today (Tik-Tok, anyone?), and each platform is a marketing opportunity. Marketers abroad are showing that there’s bigger return on investment from mining these less-saturated platforms.

5. Brand Identity Over Tactics

The latest tactic. The new platform. The one trick that will boost customer response by 15 percent. There’s crazy emphasis on marketing tactics and the latest trick. The problem is that everyone knows the digital marketing tactics now. There’s saturation.

“Effective online marketing tools and tactical know-how are ubiquitous today. That means that, on their own, they no longer confer a competitive advantage to brands,” explains Duffy. “To regain an edge, we see an increasing number of brands paying more attention to developing their brand identity and marketing strategy further.”

This trend is strongest among Duffy’s Asian clients, he says.

“They are typically more eager to improve their brand identity and strategic stance than their US or EU counterparts,” he notes.

There are other overseas marketing trend worth copying, of course. International brands are focusing more on the “why” of their business than in the US, content marketing is stressing the customer journey more than narrow SEO gains, brand community creation is prioritized above the sale, and local market brands are experimenting with greater video engagement. But these trends have all reached the U.S. already, whereas the trends above are still largely unseen.

So go take these overseas trends and make some magic.

But first, your moment of Zen. Here’s one last Thai commercialOpens a new window before you go.