Three Lessons from TSI’s APAC Tour

It’s been a busy month for TSI. We’ve been criss-crossing the entire Asia-Pacific region, listening and learning from clients, partners, and other players in the brand consulting space. Our tour took us to four countries, seven cities, and a fair number of amazing restaurants, too! Now, we’re bringing back a few of our key lessons from the experience.

Lesson #1

“New Zealand is on the cusp of an amazing opportunity to sell into China, big. The question is how to get started.” says Joel Bacall.

Chinese consumers are turning to New Zealand in droves, but kiwi SMEs are having a hard time making heads or tails of what to do. Since this is relatively uncharted territory, it’s going to take many iterations of trial, error, and learning to get right. For those NZ businesses ready to make the leap, getting started on the right foot is going to be critical.

Lesson #2

Andrew Cameron notes “Aussie brands are going to have to try harder to differentiate themselves among an increasingly competitive peer set.”

In the past, consumers viewed brand Australia as clean, trustworthy, and green. While that’s still the case, they’re not the only kid on the block anymore. What was once unique messaging is now very similar to things coming out of places like New Zealand and Scandinavia. When it comes to the Chinese market, Australian companies are going to find a better way to differentiate from competitors and relate to consumers.

Lesson #3

CEO and Founder Andrew Kuiler realised “Singapore has risen as the innovation hub for F&B in APAC, with a lot of regional work headquartered there.”

What was most interesting is just how much overall work for the region is driven out of Singapore. This may point to a consolidation of resourcing for global brands, versus what was once a no-holds-barred wrestling match amongst very diverse markets. It also means brands must be even more vigilant when it comes to getting touchy cross-cultural messaging right.


With such dynamic changes happening day in and day out across the region, it’s become apparent success depends on forging strong, reliable partnerships. These partners have to be on-the-ground, with their finger on the actual pulse of what’s going on today, and able to foresee three steps ahead. Otherwise, brands risk creating obsolete strategies they think will actually work.