In this third and final article, we will explore the pop culture and popular social media trends in Malaysia.
After understanding the cultural aspects of Malaysia in article 1 and the essential social media statistics of the Malaysian audience in article 2, we present you with the final article on localized popular trends in the Malaysian social media sphere.
Understanding your audience and identifying the latest localized trends will boost performance for your social media marketing efforts. In addition, observing how your audience consumes and interacts with each trend is also an essential factor to consider when planning your social media communication for the Malaysian market.
Key insights from Malaysia
1. Ramadan & Hari Raya in Malaysia
Celebrating Ramadan & Hari Raya in Malaysia:
Ramadan is a time for feasting — and bingeing. Millions of Muslims think, search, and buy differently because of this largest festival in Malaysia. It provides marketers with an opportunity to interact meaningfully with the right audience online. Here’s a guide to assist brands in better understanding Muslim customers and planning effective Ramadan social media marketing.
You may send a targeted and compelling message to an audience through your campaign by understanding your audience’s motives during Ramadan and its impact on their digital habits. Here are some key facts about the social media behavior of Malaysians during Ramadan:
- 25% growth in watch time on religious content during Ramadan on YouTube.
- Recipe searches on Google increased by 120% during Ramadan in 2020.
- Searches for beauty and fashion tips: 100% increase in searches for beauty and fashion tutorials and begins to increase six months before Ramadan.
- 25% increase in distance driven per Waze user over the Hari Raya period as they travel back to their hometowns from major cities.
Malaysia’s Celcom created a unique YouTube campaign using both short- and long-form video material to build brand affinity throughout the competitive ad season of Ramadan and Hari Raya. It has touched the aspects of the season and the themes of “staying connected” and “family”, which are essential cultural aspects to Malaysians. The holiday ads were broadcast throughout the festive month, as a result garnering over 8 million views and considerable sign-up gains.
💡 Takeaway: During Ramadan, Muslim shoppers will alter their routines to devote extra time to praying, fasting, doing good deeds, and purchasing gifts for the Hari Raya celebrations. We recommend brands to activate festivities campaigns such as leveraging shout-out celebrations, special offers, promos, etc. while understanding their usual behaviors during this season.
2. Malay Women are Entrepreneurial and the Most Emancipated in the Islamic World
A visit to shops, hotels, or market stalls will reveal that Malay women often achieve prominent roles in business, academia, and lack neither confidence nor social skills. Malay women are also the family’s anchor, and husbands frequently defer to their wives in household concerns.
- Malaysia’s government is committed to advancing women’s development and empowerment.
With a budget commitment of RM95 million, the 2021 Budget has offered an incentive to encourage women entrepreneurs through special micro-credit financing through TEKUN, Mara, and Agrobank.
- The participation of Malaysian women in the labor market was 55% (Department of statistics, Nov 2020).
- One in every five Malaysian women owns a business.
Despite their modernity and accomplishments, Malay women may refuse to shake hands with men. You should not be upset if a Malay woman declines to shake your hand because they usually do so at their choice, primarily to preserve the religious influence that has been passed down through centuries.
Noor Neelofa Mohd Noor, a 31 years old female entrepreneur who gained fame when she entered the ‘Dewi Remaja’ competition, a teen talent search program and was crowned as the ‘Dewi Remaja’ Champion for the year 2009/2010. Capitalizing on her fame among Malaysians and worldwide, Neelofa is known as an entrepreneur and for her various charitable work. She has gained 8.5 million followers on Instagram and is an inspiring influencer who encourages many of her fans to develop into a better version of themselves.
View this post on Instagram
💡 Takeaways: Stories and inspirations about Entrepreneurial women is a popular social media trend in Malaysia. Brands could consider activating these Malaysian female entrepreneurs with strong influence among their followers for social media marketing.
3. Eco-friendly economy
Thanks to recent government measures and local environmental NGOs and brands, the sustainability movement has changed Malaysians’ way of life and how businesses work. Malaysians are becoming more aware of environmental issues and looking for products and services that support them living a more eco-friendly lifestyle. According to Google’s 2020 year in search report Malaysia, Malaysians are looking for ways to consume consciously and choose brands that support sustainability, as shown on:
- 1.6x YoY growth in “eco-friendly” searches.
- 1.4x YoY increase in “cruelty-free” queries.
Malaysians prefer to purchase products with a sustainable and ethical supply/production chain (+110% YoY growth in searches for “sustainable fashion”). They are also becoming more conscious of their impact on the environment and getting more interested in “re-commerce,” the burgeoning trend of utilizing internet platforms to buy, sell or rent secondhand products. For instance, it was reflected from:
- 1.7x YoY growth in “second-hand furniture” searches.
- 2.1x YoY increase in “rental car” queries (Google’s 2020 Year).
View this post on Instagram
💡 Takeaway: Brands are encouraged to highlight and promote their values on any corporate activation or initiative on sustainability, especially with the recent popular searched keywords to resonate with the Malaysian audiences.
4. The Important of Music Marketing in Malaysia
Not only for fans but also musicians, music is a vital tool for connecting. Many have written songs that uniquely relate to and respond to this generation of global natives. Brands may connect with their customers by having a strong cultural identity and following music trends. So, how can we use music to reach Malaysian audiences effectively? Use genre-based targeting to reach out to them.
The young generation in Malaysia is open to international genres, as evidenced by the rapid growth of global subgenres such as Hip Hop and K-Pop, which have become expressions of their identities. Brands have an opportunity to connect with Gen Zs and Millennials through genre-based targeting on platforms across social media. Consequently, by matching audio creative to the visual content curated specifically for the various social channels, brands can create organic content or ad experiences that resonate with their audience.
Take this ad by Toppen Shopping Centre located in Johor Bahru, Malaysia, which won Best Collaboration Ad by YouTube Creators & Brands. They leveraged the ever-popular Hip Hop trend and scene in Malaysia to reach their target audience. They featured the main languages in Malaysia, Bahasa Melayu, Mandarin, and English, celebrating cultural inclusivity. This ad alone generated 3.5 million views on YouTube.
💡 Takeaway: Understanding your target audience’s music trends and preferences in Malaysia is essential in this market as Malaysians of all ages resonate and take well to music-focused ads. It is an excellent opportunity for brands to collaborate with popular artists and influencers to reach a broader audience on social media in Malaysia.
5. Halal Beauty is on the Rise
Halal beauty brands appeal to Muslim beauty lovers with their products. The demand for halal-certified products is increasing in Malaysia, particularly in the cosmetics and personal care sectors. Customers do not need to be Muslims to appreciate these products. Essentially, Halal cosmetics are defined as free from alcohol, blood, and parts or substances from animals that have not been slaughtered according to Islamic practices.
Southeast Asia’s local halal beauty brands and mainstream brands such as Johnson & Johnson are redefining the region’s beauty market. According to Grand View Research, the global halal cosmetics market is expected to reach approximately S$70.85 billion by 2025, and Malaysia has the ambition to be the global halal hub.
Last year, there is a YoY 1.7x growth in halal-related beauty searches in Malaysia, with the following top searches on:
- pewarna rambut halal
- halal nail polish
- produk kosmetik halal
View this post on Instagram
💡 Takeaway: Brands in the personal care, health, beauty, and cosmetics industry looking to penetrate the Malaysian market, are highly recommended to pay attention and tap into Halal advertising and activate Muslim beauty influencers on social media.
6. The Popularity of Korean Culture
The entry of the Korean wave to Malaysia was rather late compared to other countries, and the initial response was somewhat unfavorable. Not long after, Malaysia’s started to accept the Korean wave faster and more aggressively. Korean drama was the first Korean wave product to enter Malaysia, followed by movies and popular music. Korean popular music (K-pop) has piqued the interest of Malaysians as featured in Korean dramas.
According to student research by the University Malaysia Sabah, female respondents consistently held more positive attitudes towards all types of Korean wave products than their male counterparts. Interestingly, there were no significant differences found across ethnicity and religions. Google has also found that Malaysian women aged 18 to 34 spent more time with online video than traditional media, particularly Korean beauty influencers.
One such channel, Blimey, is the most popular YouTube channel whose predominant audience is Malaysians. Most of their videos feature them discovering Malaysian culture and items. Thus, it is more of a lifestyle vlog. This channel alone has 729,000 subscribers on YouTube alone.
💡 Takeaway: Korean trends and culture are here to stay in Malaysia. If you are looking primarily to reach out to women ages 18 to 34 in Malaysia, understanding the current popular Korean social media trends may be essential, especially with your brand. Major brands like McDonald’s have already leveraged this trend in their campaigns.
Other trending topics in Malaysia according to YouTube:
7. Social Media as an Added Channel for Brands to Provide Excellent Customer Service
In our second insight article, we discussed the significant rise of Social Commerce in Malaysia. Demand for customer services has risen in tandem with consumer demand. Most businesses used to manage customer support by dialing a toll-free number or sending an email, but many customers were dissatisfied due to the lengthy and slow response procedure.
The Malaysian audience’s thinking is changing. Brands’ relationship with them is more essential than the product or service they are selling to them. Malaysians are frequently looking for personal ties with brands that feel like part of their community. As a result, the brand will understand clients as “friends” in the social network.
As a technique for addressing customer care on the platform, social media is also very convenient and straightforward. According to the pie chart below, we can see that most Malaysians expect positive and speedy customer service replies from social media.
💡 Takeaway: Fully utilize social media to connect and communicate with your customers. It is a great way to develop loyalty and advocacy for your brand, especially with existing customers. Community management should be highly prioritized and conducted effectively for the audience in this market.
Explore articles 1 & 2 of this series:
- ① Cultural social media insights in Malaysia [ Research ]
- ② Social Media Penetration in Malaysia [Research]
Explore our other Market Research in Asia:
🇸🇬 Singapore Social Media Insights:
- ① Cultural social media insights in Singapore [ Research ]
- ② Social media marketing in Singapore [ Research ]
- ③ Online marketing in Singapore [ Research ]
🇹🇭 Thailand Social Media Insights:
- ① Cultural social media insights in Thailand [ Research ]
- ② Social Media Penetration in Thailand [Research]
- ③ The popular Social Media trends in Thailand [Research]
🇻🇳 Vietnam Social Media Insights:
- ① Cultural social media insights in Vietnam [Research]
- ② Social Media Penetration in Vietnam [ Research ]
- ③ The popular Social Media in Vietnam [ Research ]
🇮🇩 Indonesia Social Media Insights:
- ① Cultural social media insights in Indonesia [Research]
- ② Social Media Penetration in Indonesia [Research]