The Importance of Hyper-Localization – Why a Simple ‘Gue’ isn’t Enough To Resonate With Indonesians

As a country that has more than 700 ethnic groups, each with its own distinct language and culture, localization is especially important in Indonesian advertising, writes Pingkan Lumanauw.

The Importance of Hyper-Localization – Why a Simple ‘Gue’ isn’t Enough To Resonate With Indonesians

As a country that has more than 700 ethnic groups, each with its own distinct language and culture, localization is especially important in Indonesian advertising, writes Pingkan Lumanauw.

The advertising industry in Indonesia is growing rapidly and is considered as one of the most dynamic markets in Southeast Asia. According to a report by statista.com, the ad spending on the Digital Advertising market is projected to reach US$2,822.00 million in 2023, while the average ad spending per user in the Social Media Advertising segment is projected to be US$4.61 in 2023. This growth is driven by the increase in mobile device usage, particularly among younger consumers.

As a country that has more than 700 ethnic groups, each with its own distinct language and culture, localization is especially important in the Indonesian advertising industry, as businesses seek to reach consumers in specific regions with targeted messaging reflecting local dialects and cultural nuances.

This can present challenges for marketers, but it also provides opportunities for creativity and innovation, especially when it comes to hyper-localized campaigns.


 

The importance of campaign hyper-localization

The key to making an Indonesian audience resonate with your campaign is by speaking their native language. When we communicate in their language, we can connect with them on a deeper level. By incorporating local dialects, idioms, and cultural references, businesses can create messages that feel personal and relevant to consumers. This approach can result in increased engagement, customer loyalty, and higher conversion rates and sales.

“‘Gue’ is an Indonesian term that is colloquially used in Jakarta and other parts of Java to mean “I” or “me”. However, it may not be as widely understood or commonly used in other parts of Indonesia”

However, hyper-localizing marketing campaigns in Indonesia can be quite challenging, especially when targeting rural areas. There are several factors that can make this task more difficult, such as language and cultural differences, variations in social customs, and variations in consumer behavior. It is always a significant task for us, creatives – especially copywriters – to find the most effective way to tackle this challenge.

The challenge of hyper-localized marketing campaigns in Indonesia

One major issue that often arises when attempting to create hyper-localized marketing campaigns is the need to adapt language and messaging to suit the local context. In Indonesia, there are hundreds of different languages and dialects spoken, which can make it difficult to craft messaging that is universally understood.


 

Additionally, certain words or phrases may work well in one region, but not in others. For example, using a pronoun can be quite tricky, even when your target market is on the same island. Take for example, one of the campaigns I previously worked on. A cigarette brand wanted to develop a strong brand positioning among Indonesian youngsters. Their strategy was to target their personal pride, in a way that related to their passion and interests. One of the solutions was to utilise the word “gue” as the main pronoun in their messaging to make it more personal and close to them.

“By incorporating local dialects, idioms, and cultural references, businesses can create messages that feel personal and relevant to consumers.”

But the result was not what we expected. After going through some research, we found that a simple “gue” couldn’t represent all Indonesians. For context, “gue” is an Indonesian term that is colloquially used in Jakarta and other parts of Java to mean “I” or “me”. However, it may not be as widely understood or commonly used in other parts of Indonesia, including Cirebon, Kediri, or even Manado.

We learned that the effectiveness of the campaign could be impacted by a choice of pronouns. Why? Because when you speak to the people living in Semarang, the use of “gue” may not be quite familiar to them. They might even find it inappropriate or impolite in certain contexts.

Image by Dini Ilham Aulia

How to tackle this?

One way to address these challenges is to work with local partners who have a deep understanding of the target market. This could include hiring localizers or content creators who can help ensure that messaging is culturally appropriate and resonates with the target audience. Additionally, conducting extensive research and testing can help identify the most effective marketing strategies for different regions.

A successful hyper-localized campaign in Indonesia should be culturally sensitive, language nuanced, have a strong social media presence, be mobile-optimized, and partner with local influencers.

“A successful hyper-localized campaign in Indonesia should be culturally sensitive, language nuanced, have a strong social media presence, be mobile-optimized, and partner with local influencers.”

In our localization campaign for Monash University, we used a strong understanding of the dynamics within the Indonesian market and developed Social Media Data, Analytic Reporting, and Social Media Ads Management to optimize our campaign.

At Lion & Lion, we created content optimization by localizing Monash’s high-performing content pillars to effectively establish our presence on social media and create a deeper connection with our target audience. Based on data research, we saw that testimonial and international student-related content performed well, so we proposed to feature Indonesian students’ testimonials to attract more attention and drive relevance to our target audience.

Additionally, we tailored the Monash ‘Change It’ campaign into more regionally relevant topics to grab our target audience’s attention and simultaneously give the new campaign a local feel, which resulted in higher engagement with our target audience. With aligned content planning and media targeting, we managed to increase the number of fans and followers on Facebook by 55% and Instagram by 187%. All this within a month!

Image by Ihsan Ayyasy

The future of hyper-localization in the Indonesian advertising industry

Looking ahead, it is likely that hyper-localization will continue to shape the advertising industry in Indonesia in several ways :

  • First, businesses will increasingly use sophisticated data analytics and machine learning tools to identify and target specific consumer segments in different geographic locations.
  • Second, we can expect to see more collaboration between businesses and local communities, as advertisers seek to build deeper relationships with consumers and understand their needs and preferences at a hyper-local level.
  • Finally, we can expect to see the continued growth of location-based services and mobile advertising platforms, as these technologies become more sophisticated and more widely adopted by Indonesian consumers.

Featured image by Dimitri Dim

Pingkan Lumanauw

Pingkan Lumanauw

Pingkan is Creative Group Head at Lion & Lion Indonesia

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