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① Cultural social media insights in Indonesia [Research]


Welcome to article 1/2 focused on cultural social media insights in Indonesia. This article will cover key cultural facts and how they might impact your social media strategy! It’s important to remind yourselves to take a step back and remember what is core to the success of your campaign – your audience and what makes them tick. A brand will only succeed with a strong understanding of the market and its audiences.

To elevate our knowledge and conduct better campaigns for our clients, Digital Business Lab decided to partner with Dr. Crystal Abidin (PhD in Anthropology & Sociology, and Media Studies). Dr. Crystal Abidin specializes in influencer cultures, online visibility, and social media pop culture, especially in the Asia Pacific region.

For this series about Indonesia, we will dig deeper into a country that is known for its beautiful beaches, islands, and temples. A place that offers some of the most flavorful food full of spices, and the 4th most populated country in the world. It has a rich history and culture. Indonesia has increasingly become more open, creative and is at the forefront of emerging practices of online commerce.

Cultural social media insights in Indonesia: Key facts

  • In general, traditional retail outlets are still prominent as consumers “simply don’t trust online shopping yet”. Consumers cite concerns over “payment safety”, “lack of sales support”, and “unreliable quality”. Indonesians tend to prefer and trust local brands. They have particular brand loyalty to “home and personal care products” and “food and beverage items” (Razdan et al. 2014).

💡  Takeaway: Businesses and brands should observe the more traditional approaches to marketing in the Indonesian market. For example, redirecting customers to an online shopping page might not be the best method to drive sales. Instead, using marketing methods to drive people to stores will be effective in the Indonesian market. Brands should also leverage partnerships with local labels that are trusted and reliable. 

GoJek Anak Bangsa Bisa! Campaign 2018

  • Similar to many Southeast Asian countries, Indonesians value the concept of “face”. This refers to “a person’s reputation, influence, dignity and honour” (Cultural Atlas 2020). It is a virtue to be conservative and not to stand out in order to avoid the risk of losing “face” (Cultural Atlas 2020). 

💡  Takeaway: These values should be replicated when working in the Indonesian market. Brands should show respect through being conservative and honouring a person’s reputation in their campaigns. 

  • Compounding the notion of “harmony” and social collectivism is “group loyalty”. This is where locals situate themselves as members of groups that come to define their self-identity. Therefore, group loyalty is important, and interests of the group supersede individual interests during moments of conflict. Group unity also provides individuals with a “sense of belonging” and “protection” (Cultural Atlas 2020).

💡  Takeaway: Indonesians value a sense of belonging to a group. Marketers can leverage their products and services in a way that highlights the value it can bring to one’s family or support system to benefit the whole group. 

Oreo launched the “AsyiknyaBersama” (FunTogether) campaign to show that parents can have fun together with the whole family. Oreo asked customers to engage by sending photos of fun family times and using the hashtag #Funtogether in the posts on Twitter.

  • Indonesian culture is governed by age hierarchies. Although personal status, education, and perceived power will also command respect, age supersedes these factors (Cultural Atlas 2020).

💡  Takeaway: Generation bounding is an important topic to consider in Indonesia. Marketers should be aware of these communication differences between different target audiences. 

  • Everyday Muslims are also expressing an “increasing reliance” on social media to practice their faith. They perceive “their online activities as part of their pious endeavors to improve their religiosity (Slama 2018).
  • Young Muslim Indonesian women have used Instagram to “understand their religion” and “accentuate their (pious) identities and life goals”. For example, using peer education on how to become a virtuous Muslim. These are known as religious Influencers on Instagram (Nisa 2018b).

💡  Takeaway: Muslim Indonesian individuals place a great emphasis on looking to social media platforms to inform them on their religion and culture. Brands should take note of cultural sensitivities and use their social media platforms carefully when communicating religious and cultural messages to the Indonesian population. 

Important dates & celebrations in Indonesia

  • National & Political
    • 21 April: Kartini Day, 1879 birth of national hero Raden Ajeng Kartini
    • 1 May: Labour Day
    • 17 August: Indonesian National Day
    • 28 October: Youth Declaration Day, Youth Pledge Day, 1928 celebration of young Indonesian nationalists
    • 10 November: Hari Pahlawan, Heroes’ Day, Warriors’ Day, Remembrance Day for 1945 Battle of Surabaya
  • Cultural
    • Chinese New Year
  • Religious (exact date and month varies by the year)
    • Isra Mi’rai Day (Muslim)
    • Eid al Fitr (Muslim)
    • First Day of Muharam (Muslim)
    • Maulidur Rasul (Muslim)
    • Hari Raya Hyeni (Hindu)
    • Easter (Christian)
    • Christmas Day (Christian)
    • Vesak Day, Waisak Day (Buddhist)

Explore article 2 of this series:

Explore our other Market Research in Asia:

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