This Is What Every APAC Business Strategy In 2018 Needs

January 4, 2018

Brand positioning and automation

We are on the cusp of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Foresight Factory is in a unique position to help brands sensitively tackle this, with our ability to forecast consumer behaviour based on our proprietary algorithm and trends. We share this with you each year in our report Trending 2018, which as you may have guessed, outlines the data-backed trends for the year ahead. Looking ahead, we’ve done things a little different and focused on actions that all brands can take. As we call for brands to support their consumers, its amid a backdrop of growing automation. We know businesses are planning strategy on how to address its impact and Trending 2018 can serve as a jumping point for many.

Anti-automation sentiment is the most pertinent in technology driven, mobile-first Asia, known for big populations and ‘cheap’ human labour. South Korea’s government proposed limiting tax incentives to companies investing in industrial automation as it anticipates a growing need for tax revenue to support those whose jobs might be replaced. Simultaneously, this region is also the breeding ground for what could be the most advanced AI developments, with countries like Singapore, Japan and China leading the way.

In China alone, we have seen:

  • Alibaba and KFC face recognition order and pay
  • Alibaba’s staffless Tao Cafe
  • New five year plan to produce 100,000 industrial robots every year by 2020
  • Hospitals are using IBM Watson for Oncology to support doctors

brand positioning and automation - how Glico makers of Pocky has tackled consumer anxiety around automation

Critically and as evident from these examples, dealing with automation is not simply an issue of the state. It’s certain that there will be widespread disruption across work and leisure, affecting the spending power, attitude and sense of status of individuals. This presents an opportunity for brands to create supportive and reassuring messaging around their products. And perhaps to propose new tools to upskill their customers, helping them adapt to this new landscape. In Japan, Glico the makers of Pocky (a chocolate covered biscuit snack) have launched Glicode, an app to teach the basics of coding to children as young as 6. The government is adopting it into the national school curriculum.

If you’re thinking, won’t these measures increase my pricing therefore put off business? 55% of global consumers agree that “companies should prioritise employing humans over robots / automated services even if it means they have to charge higher prices”. What this tells us is that the near future is one where there’s a demand for premium human services and an opening for brands to differentiate themselves in this way.


Find out the trends behind the anti-automation attitude and how robots are affecting global markets. Download the Trending 2018 report.


Written by Michael Agnew

Michael leads FF's APAC business from Singapore - home to world leading innovation. When he's not marveling at the smart city initiatives of the Little Red Dot, he's travelling to speak at industry events, tracking regional trend movements and working with our APAC clients.

You may also like to read...

17th April 2017

The 3 Global Trends That are Rising in Asia

Stop looking for Asian trends As the world becomes more globalised, the notion of a purely local trend gets weaker […]

Read article
28th April 2017

Unruly Meet the Makers Asia

On a rainy April morning, the first Unruly Meet the Makers event was held in Hong Kong, just as it became the […]

Read article