Top 5 Ways to Win with Premium in Indonesia

28 Aug 2014|carol.mok

Indonesia is a booming market, promising to be the 11th largest economy by 2015.  With a domestic market of roughly 250 million, the middle class is growing in wealth and vying for brands that reflect their upward position in life.  So how can brands create premium to attract this emerging group of consumers?

 1. “We” not “I”

Unilever sunlight challengeIndonesian people are extremely family oriented, taking it much further than any other culture.  The sense of responsibility comes naturally, instinctively putting the needs of the family above theirs.  As they move from lower to aspirant classes into the middle and affluent classes, the initial focus of their expenditures go to improving the living conditions of their family rather than on indulging on themselves. Unilever’s cleaning soap brand, Sunlight, understands the importance of a “we” context in execution, an indication of the celebration of the whole family’s ascent. In their Sunlight Living Challenge campaign, it inspires Indonesian families to live a healthier and more environmentally friendly life at home, as an initial step towards a more sustainable world and brighter future for their children.

2. Premium ≠ International

McDonaldsMcDonald’s has realized that as a global brand entering the close-knit Indonesian culture, they will not necessarily resonate if they only bank on their international footprint. A big reason of the brand’s success is its ability to adapt to the tastes and cultures of Indonesia. Great strides have been taken to localize in terms of content or context: slowly substituting all imported ingredients with local products, designing the store façade to reflect the town’s specific culture (i.e. the McDonald’s outlet in Boulevard, a tourist area in Manado, North Sulawesi, has been designed to resemble a traditional junk out of respect for the local seafaring culture) and a local menu such as McSatay and Buryam.

3. #sociallyconnected

Cornetto Taylor AwiftWith 250 million people and 73 million online users, the Indonesian population is very connected.  Indonesia claims to have the 2nd largest Facebook users and 3rd largest Twitter users globally. With increasing disposable income, the proliferation of smartphones will drive the growth of mobile-Internet users in the coming years. Cornetto used social media to launch a massive web campaign in Indonesia to create buzz for the Taylor Swift Red Tour concert.  It tapped into the desire among Indonesians to be in the know and ahead of trends, while generating a huge buzz on social media for the brand with countless Twitter users using the hashtags #CornettoREDTour and #RoadToREDTourJKT.

4. Upgrading baskets

Frisan Flag GoldIndonesian shopping baskets are increasingly dominated with premium products, reflecting their rising aspiration.  Frisian Flag, a dairy brand, saw the opportunity to reinvent a traditional category of sweeten condensed milk.  It launched a gold range of sweeten condensed milk creamer to middle class consumers who were seeking higher quality – a trade up.  But going premium is not about spending irresponsibly. Quality product, image and superior packaging are the shelf talkers that convince consumers to upgrade.


5. Progression from convenience to comfort

phone indonesiaWith wealth and lifestyle standards increasing, there is a natural shift from products that previously only addresses basic needs to greater convenience and finally to those that offer comfort and to some degree indulgence. This is clearly seen in the consumer durables and technology where consumers begin to aspire for washing machines and smart phones then progress to air conditioners and cars that they hope will make their lives more relaxed and stress free.


The growing middle class in Indonesia is certainly an attractive market. Creating premium in meaningful ways within Indonesia culture from customisation to engaging on social media in relevant ways will help brands win big.


Image credits: IB Times, Unilever, travellingmcds, Cornetto, Sukamart & BBC

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