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Photo Source: Kosmo Online (top right) Oriental Daily (bottom right)

Digital Marketing // June 20, 2018

Five Notable Social Trends for Marketers

Current Malaysian Specific Trends

Celebrating National Pride

With the current post GE14 era in Malaysia, #NewMalaysia became not just a hashtag but a trend on social media, alternative media, mainstream media like the daily news, radio, and on television. The Ministry of Transport also hopped on the bandwagon in releasing limited edition “MALAYSIA” car number plates in conjunction with 2018’s Independence Day. Moving forward to being solution oriented, the Tabung Harapan, established as a trust fund, appealed to Malaysians’ love for the nation once more.

Global Social and Visual Trends

With social media acting as a global public sphere, Malaysians are increasingly impacted by these global trends.

Fierce Femininity

Women are becoming powerful figures in the society, following up from the gender equality movements in the past years. They act as role models to other girls and women, by valuing vulnerability and carrying them through thought leadership in everyday lives, no matter on social media or everyday workplace.

“As a leader, when you choose to be vulnerable and share what’s real, it helps others be vulnerable too – resulting in more honest, meaningful conversations.”

– Callie Field
Executive Vice President of Customer Care of T-Mobile USA


Mental Health

Our lives are increasingly cluttered, causing some to respond by practising mindfulness and minimalism. This stems not so much from the desire to achieve a particular visual aesthetic, but to eliminate decision fatigue, improve efficiency, and bring about clarity in our lives.

Over the past year, there has been a lot of attention on mental health prioritisation and mental illness in pop culture media and consumer marketing. Not only has it shaped the visuals, designs, and music industry; it also changed the way people consume media. Workplaces have also been taking the initiative to be aware of their employees’ mental health, making it a boardroom priority and an employer branding differentiator.


Racial Equality

Besides the massive attention on #BLM (Black Lives Matter) in America and Europe, younger Malaysians especially are equally concerned about racial tension within the country. We constantly strive to defend for peace, justice, and integrity within the country across and for different races and religions, which leads to our recent GE14 elections and our huge celebration of victory.


Authenticity in Visuals

Issues such as diversity, censorship, and inclusion have been under the spotlight over the past year, and will be even more focused on within the year to come. Consumers now value an authentic connection with brands that they can heavily relate to.

“People are craving a truth in pictures that represents the world they inhabit.”

– Getty Images creative in focus


The aesthetics of photojournalism has been increasingly adopted by many brands – especially for brands that challenge the status quo – to connect with younger consumers by bringing a raw, spontaneous edge to the brand’s storytelling. Most importantly, brands want to establish trust and be on the everyday level as their customers, for maximum customer centricity. An authenticity case study we can look at is Fusion Media Group’s campaign – “As American As”.

According to Getty Images Creative in Focus, new social photography fuelled by the society’s wonder and curiosity is framed by these four Es:

1. Experiment
2. Experience
3. Emotion
4. Self-Expression

To sell is to be human, and that involves a great initiative of vulnerability towards your audiences. Just like humans, it’s easier for someone to trust you when you’re the first one to point out your flaws. Hence, being truthful and brutally honest about your product strengths – and especially its weaknesses – to your customers will reward you with higher sales and more word of mouth marketing.

So What’s Next?

Trends like #NewMalaysia can be applied to all industries with their general lifestyle relevance aimed at a better Malaysia.

F&B and lifestyle brands can apply the authentic 80’s visual theme, leveraging on the nostalgic and digital-detox trends on social media, urging people to live in the moment. Brands may also utilise movie style references to garner a sense of familiarity from target audiences that are familiar with pop/media sub-cultures. For example, H&M worked with Wes Anderson, a film director famous for his symmetrical cinematography and his vintage vibes, for a 2016 Christmas advertisement. Similarly in 2018, TNB Malaysia’s Hari Raya short film adopted the symmetry and quirky visual transitions that we believe were inspired by the same film director.

Lastly, with fierce femininity and mindfulness emerging, property & development brands can emphasise the value their property may bring, to induce an amazing environment for women and people’s mental health in general.

At FOREFRONT, we transform trends and data into stories. Want to take your brand further? We’re only a call, an email or an appointment away! Kindly visit the “CONTACT” section on our website for more details.

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