Hakuhodo Malaysia | THE CONNECTED FAMILY
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Hakuhodo Institute of Life and Living ASEAN (HILL ASEAN) Hosts First
‘ASEAN Sei-katsu-sha Forum’ in Kuala Lumpur
With a look at how Malaysia’s three ethnic groups have their own ways of staying “CONNECTED”

Kuala Lumpur, 9 April, 2015 – Hakuhodo Institute of Life and Living ASEAN (“HILL ASEAN”), a think tank established in 2014 by Japan’s second largest advertising company, Hakuhodo Inc., has provided interesting insights on Malaysian and ASEAN families during its first Malaysian Sei-katsu-sha Forum entitled “HAKUHODO Institute of Life and Living ASEAN – ASEAN insights seen through our eyes”, held in Kuala Lumpur.

These insights resulted from comprehensive research in six ASEAN countries (including Malaysia) which was conducted to help businesses, both local and international, to better understand the region and its families in a more holistic manner so they can take advantage of the opportunities available from the planned creation of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) in 2015.

The main finding of the research was that a new type of family is emerging in the ASEAN region – a family which HILL ASEAN label as the ‘Connected Family’. As in other developed and developing economies, the more diffuse nuclear family has become more common – driven by economic growth and urbanisation. However, the growth of the nuclear family in ASEAN and Malaysia is happening at a time when a variety of social media tools and smart devices, which were not available historically to other urbanising countries, have provided extended families with the means to maintain their family bonds despite greater challenges in terms of time and geography. The conclusion is that ASEAN families are taking their own distinctive course, which is different to what was historically seen in Japan and other developing nations.

The research showed that while families in ASEAN are definitely not homogenous the prevalence of social tools and smart technologies is helping maintain the influence and importance of the extended family, despite the continued trend towards smaller more diverse nuclear family units.

Differences in How Families of Malaysia’s Main Ethnic Groups Stay Connected
Malaysia proved to be an interesting microcosm of the overall research. The Malaysian responses demonstrated clear differences in how families of Malaysia’s main ethnic groups (Malay, Chinese and Indian) interact – but also highlighted how smart technologies are playing an important role in maintaining and strengthening extended family bonds for everyone.

Malay families
The research conducted by HILL ASEAN indicates that extended Malay families tend to be more dispersed, but gather frequently both offline and online via social networks – with the frequency of contact being very high. Their preferred social networks are Facebook, WhatsApp and Twitter and they talk constantly about everything.

Chinese families
On the other hand, the research showed that extended Chinese families tend to live in closer physical proximity to each other, but do not tend to meet casually quite so often – preferring more formal gatherings during special events such as weddings, festivals and holidays. On social media, Chinese family groups tend to be more focused on discussing specific topics or special occasions. Their preferred social networks are Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram.

Indian families
The HILL ASEAN research also indicated that Indian families tend to be larger with a preference for children staying at home – even after they are married. Indians value family ties, but make less effort to meet distant family members – apart from special occasions such as weddings. Online contact fortifies Indian family relationships – although their social network groups tend to be more structured between close and distant relatives. Preferred social networks are Facebook and WhatsApp.

The HILL ASEAN Fixed Point Survey also provided some interesting comparative data between the six ASEAN countries surveyed (Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam) and Japan – where Hakuhodo has been conducting a similar ‘Fixed Point Survey’ every two years since the early 1980’s. (See attached reference section – page 6 – for further details on these results)

Goro Hokari, Institute Director HILL ASEAN, who introduced the forum, explained the Hakuhodo Group’s fundamental ‘sei-katsu-sha’s philosophy in support of marketing in ASEAN countries, including Malaysia, and commented on the findings. He said, “The research by HILL ASEAN demonstrates that a new type of family is emerging in Malaysia and the ASEAN region. As is typical in all developed and developing countries, smaller more nuclear families have become more commonplace as ASEAN has developed. But the research clearly shows that ASEAN and Malaysian consumers are using the relatively recent development of smart devices and social media tools to achieve happiness and closer bonds as an extended family unit, despite the apparent breakdown of the traditional family into smaller units.”

Sylvia Chong and Raymond Teoh, Strategic Planner of Hakuhodo Malaysia, also pointed out the importance of this research for marketers. They said, “Standard surveys that focus on the household often overlook the growing importance of the extended family as they do not live under the same roof. Also overlooked is the fact that anyone in that extended family can now become an influencer, sharing information and contributing to the family’s wellbeing in the fields they know best, be it food, travel or any other product. While family elders used to dominate decision taking in traditional extended families now anyone in the family can become an influencer sharing information. It is important for businesses in Malaysia to appreciate and understand the importance of the ‘Connected Family’ as a platform that can disseminate their message more effectively than conventional approaches.”

HILL ASEAN’s comprehensive research was conducted in six ASEAN countries. It had two elements the ASEAN Fixed Point Survey – a quantitative survey which uses the same methodology that Hakuhodo has used to survey consumers in Japan since the 1980’s – and an ASEAN Home-Visit Survey – a qualitative survey. The ASEAN Fixed Point survey had a sample size of 5,400 (900 in each country). It was targeted at Socio-Economic Classes A to D and featured over 1,000 questions covering education, shopping, work, social life and values.

HILL ASEAN plans to conduct the same survey every two years to provide a look at ASEAN sei-katsu-sha’s lives from a 360° perspective – which will also enable the tracking of changing patterns over time.

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