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The retail and ecommerce sectors have seen significant growth as many consumers have shifted from in-store to online shopping throughout the pandemic. This is especially evident in Southeast Asia. A report by Google, Temasek, and Bain & Company found that adoption and use of ecommerce, online media, and food delivery services surged in the region in 2020. 

Southeast Asia enjoys some of the world’s highest internet penetration rates. More than 400 million of the 580 million members of the population of Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines, and Vietnam are online. That’s 70 percent of the region’s population. In fact, 40 million people came online in 2020, spurred by the pandemic. This trend is likely to continue, as 9 in 10 new digital consumers in the region intend to continue using digital services.

Gen Z rising — a demographic vital to growing your business

This growing number of digital consumers underscores the importance of an online focus, but ecommerce enterprises and retailers need to be aware of demographic shifts in the region and the effects they may have on purchasing behavior and mentality. In Indonesia alone, 65 million young people ages 10 to 24 make up 28 percent of the population. Gen Z, as this generation is called, could be a game changer for many brands because of its distinct consumer behavior. 

Gen Zers tend to make purchase decisions based on their own research by comparing products on review sites, getting recommendations from trusted publishers, and following social influencers. According to a Meltwater report, 80 percent of Southeast Asian survey respondents indicated that influencers are pivotal in shaping consumer opinions and buying decisions. If your brand wants to connect with this target audience, it’s time to rethink your customer acquisition strategy and create authentic, purposeful, and helpful content that aligns with what these digital customers seek. 

At the same time, the effectiveness of traditional digital advertising is in decline. Consumers, especially millennials, have become desensitized to online ads. It’s also been found that the cost of advertising on typical search and social channels has exponentially increased for advertisers — 90 percent year over year (YoY). Coupled with the demise of third-party cookie tracking (which makes retargeting a lot more restrictive) and the increasing rate of ad blocker use by annoyed consumers, it’s critical for retailers to instead focus on regaining audience trust.

Smart and forward-thinking retail brands are finding that performance-based affiliate marketing partnerships are an effective and lucrative way of forming authentic connections — and thus acquiring new customers who truly connect with their brand.

Rethinking customer acquisition

What is performance-based affiliate marketing, and how does it fit into your partnership strategy?

Simply put, it is when people or groups with similar audiences or values work together to achieve set performance-based goals for their mutual benefit. This can include goals such as new customers or conversions for one partner and increased revenue for the other. Examples of mutually beneficial partnerships for retailers include influencer marketing partnerships programs, loyalty programs, coupon sites like Shopback, content publishers, and even business to business (B2B) partnerships. 

Affiliate marketing and partnerships are not new to retailers. Take iconic fashion brand Love, Bonito. The company saw partnerships as a sustainable, revenue-driving channel to scale its business across international markets and beyond Southeast Asia. Its partnerships program has grown to encompass 200 partners, including subnetworks, loyalty, and content publishers. 

Growing your business with partnerships

A recent Forrester report found that brands that actively engage in building their affiliate and partnerships programs have seen overall share of revenue grow to 28 percent of total company revenue. They also experience revenue growth that is two times faster than competitors with no or low partnership maturity. For example, Lenovo drives 25 percent of its revenue through the partnerships channel — which is more than the average 20 percent of revenue retailers generate from paid search.

The statistics are proof of the potential for growth and success with a well-managed affiliate and partnerships program. Growth is boosted by the trust your potential customers place in the information and recommendations provided by the individuals and organizations you partner with. In the case of Love, Bonito, the brand has acquired 20 percent of total new customers purely from its partnerships program. 

Measuring the success of an affiliate and partnerships program

With traditional paid media channels like search and social, you typically track cost per acquisition (CPA) and cost per click (CPC) within the platform. But what if attribution is not that simple in terms of revenue driven and actual return on investment (ROI)?

It’s now possible to track the effectiveness of an affiliate or partner at each touchpoint your affiliate or partner contributes to on the customer journey to a sale. Technology exists to track, reward, and optimize your partnerships, accurately reflecting ROI and revenue driven by each affiliate. Impact’s platform allows retailers like Charles & Keith, Decathlon, Razer, Sephora, Lenovo, and Love, Bonito to find, recruit, contract, manage, reward, optimize, and report on their partnership activities.

Taking the first step to launch your partnerships 

It’s relatively simple to launch an affiliate and partnerships program from scratch, and you’ll breathe easy when you take the first step since you only pay partners for successful conversions. Ultimately, partnerships deliver what traditional ads alone no longer can: trust, endorsement, and authenticity — key elements for retailers to sustain business growth through fluctuating times. 

Learn more in How an affiliate partnership program works from first click to payout and the blog, Ultimate guide to affiliate marketing.

When you’re ready to dive in, our dedicated Southeast Asia Impact team can guide you through kickstarting your program and scaling your business across the region. Connect with us at

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