Indonesia’s image around the world yet to live up to the strength of positive feeling at home
Indonesia has a relatively low profile on the international stage compared to its larger neighbors to the north. Indonesian brands are little-known outside Southeast Asia, and the term ‘Made in Indonesia’ is not something that instantly conjures up a particularly strong mental image for consumers living outside the region.
Yet within Indonesia, there is tremendous pride in the country, its people, and its successful brands. At home, to be Made in Indonesia is a highly positive attribute for a brand or product to have. It suggests artisanal quality, a richness of culture, and a connection with the country’s history. Indonesian people living or travelling abroad often take typically Indonesian goods with them – Indomie noodles, kretek cigarettes, or batik fabric – and see themselves as ambassadors for the country and its brands.
For Indonesia, developing a strong reputation and building the desirability of its brands is especially important at the moment, with the ASEAN single trading bloc for Southeast Asian nations due to come into being in late 2015, simplifying regional commerce.
Mind the gap
The divergence of opinion inside the country and abroad about what Brand Indonesia stands for is illustrated in the Personality Atlas, a JWT study of the stereotypes and perceptions of 27 markets across the globe.
The Personality Atlas study, based on interviews with more than 6,000 adults, highlights a ‘positivity gap’ in Indonesia and other developing countries; essentially, people feel more positive about their own country than people in other markets do.
The research found that in Indonesia, 36 percent of people feel very positively about the country. In countries in the region excluding Indonesia, only 9 percent feel that way about Indonesia, and globally, 11 percent feel very positively. This global score puts Indonesia level with India (11 percent globally view it very positively) and not far behind Singapore (13 percent), South Korea (13 percent), Thailand (16 percent), and China (22 percent). The U.S., for comparison, is regarded very positively by 31 percent of people worldwide, and the highest ranked country in the world is Canada, which has 46 percent of people around the world feeling very positively about it.
Globally, people feel most positive about the people and culture of Indonesia, slightly less so about its brands, and even less positive about its government. The country is most likely to be described as religious and content – similar words used to describe India – and is least likely to be called cultured or charismatic. The country is seen as welcoming, family-focused, polite, and religious.
Locals, however, describe their country as fun, humorous, welcoming and polite. Regionally, there are concerns about corruption in Indonesia.
Perceptions globally about Indonesian-made products are similar to those from other Southeast Asian nations; products are seen as cheap, but of questionable quality and subject to poor safety standards. Indonesian people have a much more positive view about made-in-Indonesia goods – about 35 percent feel very positively about home-made products, while globally just over 10 percent of people feel the same about Indonesian products.
As is the case with most countries, people who have actually been to Indonesia have a higher opinion of the country than those who have never visited. And people aged under 35 feel significantly more positively towards Indonesia than those aged 35-plus – a difference of 10 percentage points.
When asked about the culture of a country, people rank Indonesia above South Korea and not far below Hong Kong and Singapore. When asked about the people, the world ranks Indonesians at about the same level as people from Egypt, Russia, Saudi Arabia, and South Africa.
These findings chime with the BrandZ™ country personality profile for Indonesia, compiled from the descriptions local consumers form of the country’s most valuable brands, using a vocabulary of 20 personality characteristics. Brand Indonesia, the cumulative impression that consumers have of the country’s Top 50 most valuable brands, emerges as trustworthy, wise, and friendly. Indonesian brands are rarely seen as playful or rebellious.
A country brand personality helps brand owners understand how a particular brand fits into consumers’ general view of brands across categories. For exporters, country brand comparisons identify the potential areas of advantage or disadvantage, where a country brand can help propel or slow international expansion.