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THE 10 HABITS OF ASIAN MEDIA CONSUMERSMIKE WALSH AUGUST 2008Tomorrow TMASIA MEDIAN AGE OF POPULATIONMINDSHARE INSIGHTS 2008The majority of the Asian population is now under 30It’s an entirely new generation of media consumers. Korean commuters watching mobile television in subways in Seoul, teenagers addicted to gaming in China, Japanese commuters reading books composed entirely on mobile phones and entire parallel economies of virtual acorns, coins and swords. Its entertainment. But not as you know it. The Chinese call them the ‘Post 80s’ - a generation that has grown up with more freedom and global sensibilities than any before it. Hollywood movies, Korean pop culture, Japanese manga and Hong Kong celebrities - Chinese consumers are exposed to a widening milieu of choices. And they are making them. Single children, they have their own money, but are also spending their parents’ cash on lifestyle, entertainment and tech toys. Instant messaging, P2P TV, blogs and multiple player 10gaming - they have never known a world where the fun was not on demand. Chinese video sharing site Tudou.com is already streaming more minutes of video content every month than YouTube (15 billion minutes per month vs. 3.5 billion).HABITSFunMobililtyIdentityLocalTogetherLow TechVirtualFreeComplexityFameFUNIf in the West, information and search was how the Internet began - in China it has always been about fun and entertainment. Just look at the top online applications by Chinese netizens, and the consumption of music and video as compared to email. Online Music (86.6%)Instant Messenging (81.4%)Online Film and TV (76.9)Online News (73.6%)Search Engines (72.4%)Network Games (59.3%)Emails (56.5%).Source: CNNIC JAN 2008Multiplayer gaming has become so popular among Chinese teenagers that major brands like Coca Cola have started to co-market with leading games like World of Warcraft to continue being relevant to their target audiences. MOBILITYIn Asia, there are vastly more handsets than web connected PCs. Forget mobisodes. There are millions now watching normal TV programming on subways in Korea and Japan. Its not streamed or downloaded but broadcast using digital tuners embedded in cell phones. Mobile technology is even helping the rebirth of more traditional mediums. In Japan, half of the top ten selling works of ﬁction in the ﬁrst six months of 2007 were composed and bought entirely on cell phones. They call them keitai shousetsu. With limited elbow room on the subway, its certainly easier to read a cell phone screen than a newspaper. IDENTITYThe expression of online identity in Asia reveals interesting differences with the experiences of in the West. Unlike the photo fetish culture on Facebook and Myspace, Asian consumers use cartoon avatars rather than real photos to represent themselves. On China’s QQ instant messaging service, users are happy to identify their friends by a string of numbers rather than usernames. In Japan, popular social networking sites like Mixi are strictly invitation only and are built to reﬂect your actual friends. In contrast, mobile based Mobagetown is entirely ﬁctional. Real world names or meetings are forbidden. The focus is on virtual roleplay.LOCALAdvanced mobile devices and ubiquitous wireless broadband is making location based services a core element of the Asian media experience. In Japan, Otetsudai Networks al ows teenagers to switch their phones to “Looking for Work” matching their time available and skill set with short term jobs near to where they are. Sony’s advanced R&D facility is also working on technology that tracks your movements, ﬂagging days when you divert from your normal route as an aid to the organisation of your personal content. TOGETHERIn China blogging is more than just a pastime for opinion leaders, its a form of collective behavior. Issues like the apparent discovery of an extinct Tiger or a Starbucks outlet in the Forbidden City attract hundreds of thousands of blog posts and national media attention. According to the CNNIC, there are 72.82 million blogs in China, and 47 million blog writers (1 in 30 Chinese, or 1 in 4 online users) Another aspect of ‘togetherness’ is Tuangou or group buying. More than 80% of Chinese users use bulletin board services (BBS) to search for information on products they plan to buy. They will then often join together and arrive en masse to terrify a store owner to give them a discount. One of the strangest things you will see in Hong Kong are skyscrapers being built with bamboo scaffolding. The cutting edge in the East is often camouﬂaged. The high and low tech co-exist in a seamless blend. In China, Internet Cafes are grimy, smoky, edgy places. Their literal translation in Chinese is ‘Internet Bar’. In Japan, the latest gadgets in Akihabara are bound in cling wrap and sold next to rice cookers. Hong Kong consumers, in search of the latest tech toys, trade in their old ones in Mongkok after which enterprising merchants send them to the mainland to be rLOW TECHe-boxed and made new for resale. For all the construction that is taking place in China, there is as much being built in a parallel economy of virtual items. Taking the lead from Dotori, the virtual currency of Korea’s Cyworld - Tencent in China have had dramatic success with QQ coins. Largely due to the absence of online credit card alternatives, QQ’s rampant popularity led to warnings from the Reserve Bank of China that the virtual currency might destablise the Yuan. Avatars, virtual clothing, swords and even real world items transferred by phone using the Korean VIRTUALGifticon system - its a new world of imagined commerce.