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The Marketing Micro Trends That Will Shape Malaysia in 2019

This power of individual choice has never been so great in the first place especially with the advent of broadband internet and the ability to micro-target.

Author, Dr. K.Kuperan Viswanathan

The most powerful forces in our society that is shaping the future are the emerging of the not-so-intuitive trends. This power of individual choice has never been so great in the first place especially with the advent of broadband internet and the ability to micro-target. If you are wondering what is microtargeting, it is the power and ability to identify small, intense subgroups and communicating with them about their individual needs and wants.

The mass production model of Ford car assembly line is being replaced by the Starbucks model based on the idea that people make more choices and obtain greater satisfaction from their choices. In the Ford model of marketing, the masses were served by many people working to make one uniform product. In the Starbucks model, the masses are served by a few people working to make thousands of customized, personalized products.

Small groups drawn by shared needs, habits, and preferences are on the rise. They are powerful, and they are hard to find but pinning them down gives the enormous potential for marketing products and services. This micro trend is an intense identity group, that is growing, which has needs and wants unmet by the current crop of companies, marketers, policymakers, and others who would influence society’s behaviour. The one-size-fits-all approach to the world is dead.

Good examples of these microtrends in Malaysia are Halal products, green products, homeschooling, Islamic modest fashion and home tuition needs. These microtrends are powered by individual choice as more and more Malaysians make decisions about their own lives. For example, the population growth of Malaysia has slowed to 1.29 percent in 2019, but the number of households has exploded.

More people are getting divorced, staying single longer, living longer, never marrying at all, we are experiencing an explosion in the number of people who are heads of households almost 15 million in 2019 compared to about 5 million in 2000. The percentage of households consisting of one person living alone increased from 5 percent in 1970 to 30 percent in 2019. The proportion of married-with-kids households has fallen to less than 50 percent.

These social and demographic changes bring about the whole idea that there are a few huge trends that determine how Malaysia and the world work is breaking down. There are no longer a couple of ‘mega-forces’ sweeping us all along.

Indeed, Malaysia and the world are being pulled apart by an intricate maze of choices, accumulating in “microtrends”- small, under-the-radar forces that can involve as little as one percent of the population, but which are powerfully shaping our society. It’s not just that small is the new big. It’s that in order to truly know what’s going on, we need better tools than just the naked eye and an eloquent tongue. We need the equivalent of magnifying glasses and microscopes, which in sociological terms are polls, surveys, and statistics. They take a slice of the matter being studied and lay it open – bigger and clearer- for examination. As a result, marketing will find your friends, your clients, your customers, and your competition, clearer than you ever thought you might.

Prof K.Kuperan Viswanathan is a Professor of Environmental Economics and Management at OYAGSB. Follow him on ResearchGate.

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OYAGSB or the Othman Yeop Abdullah Graduate School of Business, Universiti Utara Malaysia is one of the leading business schools in Asia. It offers Master of Business Administration (MBA), Doctor of Business Administration (DBA), Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) and Doctor of Management (D Management) programmes for ambitious professionals, corporate executives and senior officials in their journey to formalise their knowledge at the highest level. To apply, visit OYAGSB’s official website.

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