Digitally generated image of abstract twisted shapes

What makes APAC a powerhouse of creativity?

SXSW has landed in Australia. This celebration of the world’s technology, film and music has migrated from Austin to Sydney for the first time. WPP’s Rose Herceg – President of Australia and New Zealand – says it’s all about creativity

SXSW’s arrival in Sydney is a ringing endorsement of the creativity found, not just in the city and country, but also in the region.

APAC is throbbing with creativity, newness, difference and the application of technology in ways that much of the rest of the world is not yet fully practising. And all of this informs marketing. We, in the APAC region, are masters of traditional marketing for traditional businesses serving markets grown over generations. But we are also able to bring the magic of the new.

Some of our markets are young. They are mobile-first, digital native, build virtual relationships, compete in eSports, embrace social commerce, expect to be immersed in technology and are comfortable – expectant – of the pace of change.

Our more mature markets know what works for them, but they also have this candy shop of innovation to pick from. We love to see that marriage coming together through all media – technology, video, music, words. This is what delivers growth for our clients.

Let’s start with ecommerce

It’s not just creativity and the innovations available to marketing across APAC that matters, it’s also the rate of take-up in the region. Ecommerce is a place to start – a $8.1tr global business by 2026.

India will rank first among 20 countries worldwide in ecommerce development between 2023 and 2027, with an annual growth rate of 14.1% (the global number is 11.16%). China will come in at 12.17%.

But, importantly, China’s ecommerce adoption is already mature, with 33% of its total retail sales coming from ecommerce in 2022. By contrast, ecommerce accounted for just 1% of total Malaysian retail sales in the same year. Not all APAC markets are equal – there is nothing homogenised about this region.

From ecommerce to social commerce to retail media, APAC has been a hotbed of experimentation and innovation on the commerce front – often with world-leading results.

Deep immersion in experiences

APAC markets also lead on virtual worlds. This is where consumers find community, companionship and even love. Imagine the challenge for established brands in figuring out their place in these environments which, at once, are both unreal and vital to business growth.

Of course, China is blazing a trail. Virtual idols, in-game advertising, esports – all these phenomena offer the opportunity for brands to tell their stories, but as part of the virtual experience; never as a bolt-on.

Let’s not forget that there is a generation that follows Gen Z that was hugely impacted by Covid and all the restrictions it imposed. They have a very different take on the world. Technology has filled the social void for many of them and brands must follow their lead.

Affluence and mobility

APAC is also a region whose people are on the move. Research shows that 75% of people in APAC are keen to travel. With travel comes the migration of ideas, the circulation of wealth and growth.

And APAC is doing pretty well given the global outlook. The International Monetary Fund termed the region dynamic, despite the sombre backdrop. And the World Bank reported that most developing East Asia and Pacific economies have bounced back from recent shocks and are growing. However, external impacts will affect the region’s economies during 2023.

While global organisations and their research teams give us clear insights on where APAC sits – economically – on the world stage, let’s not underestimate what is going on the ground.

For a down to earth understanding of what consumers are thinking and doing across this vast region, have a look at what they’re searching for. This is how we might understand this region best.

But what we can state with passion and confidence is that creativity in this region has value. We can see that from the application of WPP’s proprietary Creative Capital tool to the Australian market.

Rose Herceg


published on

19 October 2023


Communications Experience

Related Topics

APAC perspectives Capitalising on creativity

More in Communications

Tokyo road crossing with a sunset at the end of the street lined with office buildings

Humility and leadership – finding a sweet spot

WPP’s Kota Takaichi – in Japan – says it’s possible to lead with humility, even in the global context, without being negatively humble

Two abstract heads overlapping

Embracing bi-cultural diversity: fostering workplace connections

Chelsea Breur of WPP's Wavemaker and Julia Rast of Xaxis (GroupM Nexus) explore the dynamic interplay of bi-cultural identity, the concept of home and the power of authenticity as we cultivate a diverse workplace

Abstract image of hands touching

Radical reconnection: the new brand KPI

The most powerful thing brands can do now is to bring people together, says Marie Stafford of WPP's Wunderman Thompson Intelligence