November 28, 2022
Digital Learning in Thailand: A Case Study
8 MIN READ

The rise in candy from around the world reflects people's growing adventurous palates and the role of social media in introducing new foods globally.

History has significantly influenced what various cultures consider beautiful. Major economic and political events, along with shifts in the cultural zeitgeist, have all played a crucial part in shaping ideal beauty standards.

For instance, colonialism radically shifted beauty ideals in many Asian and African countries. Features that didn’t fit with Eurocentric beauty ideals, like deeper skin tones, smaller eye shapes and textured hair, were deemed undesirable, introducing a social hierarchy that is still being unraveled today.

In modern society, the rise of the Internet and social media has been a transformative force in shaping beauty standards. Asian beauty techniques and products have spread to the West and entered the mainstream, while Western influencer and celebrity culture has permeated globally. The conversation around beauty has become increasingly diverse and inclusive, celebrating a wider range of features and styles.

These evolving perspectives on beauty have led to the emergence of new practices, which are prominently reflected in modern advertising. Using our AI-powered Ad Evaluation App, we analyzed beauty advertisements from the 1990s and 2000s by the same brands across five different markets - the US, China, India, Japan, and Brazil. Our goal was to observe their transformation over time and identify any movements between these markets.

Brazil

Previous Archetypes and Values: Sensual, Intimate, Passionate

New Archetypes and Values: Sensual, Intimate, Passionate, Inspiration, Glamorous

Brazil boasts one of the world’s most diverse cultures, but its beauty standards haven't always reflected that. L’Oreal’s earlier ads featured a light-skinned American model, which is not representative of the country's diversity. While the preferences for glamour and sensuality have remained central, modern ads now showcase a nuanced version of beauty, highlighting different ethnicities and genders. This bolder approach contrasts with the seemingly self-effacing ad of the past, redefining and embracing what beauty looks like in Brazil.

China

Previous Archetypes and Values: Supportive, Down-to-Earth

New Archetypes and Values:  Strong, Brave, Determined

Estee Lauder's 2002 ad in China features Caucasian model Hilary Rhoda as the ambassador, dubbed in Mandarin. This ad may have been a reflection of the period's idealization of foreign beauty and a lack of strong Chinese identity in the beauty industry at the time. More than two decades later, the 2024 ad we analyzed showcases Zhang Weili, a professional MMA fighter, training in a boxing ring. This shift indicates a move away from the consumption of imported beauty standards towards the creation of a homegrown ideal. The new standard of beauty emphasizes strength and health, qualities that Chinese consumers admire and aspire to, and see in themselves.

India

Previous Archetypes and Values:  Powerful, Charismatic, Visionary

New Archetype and Values: Playful, Carefree, Fun-Loving, Glamorous

The two L’Oreal India advertisements featuring long-time brand ambassador Aishwarya Rai illustrate a shift in marketing strategy over the last decade. In the earlier ad, Aishwarya embodies the quintessential beautiful Indian woman, dressed-up and perfectly coiffed. This portrayal emphasizes an idealized and somewhat unattainable standard of beauty.The updated ad presents a more casual and relatable image of the actress, which suggests an attitudinal shift among Indian consumers. While she remains glamorous, the ad focuses on portraying her in a more accessible light, thus positioning her as someone who wants to help other women feel beautiful too.

Japan

Previous Archetypes and Values: Innocent, Humble, Optimistic

New Archetypes and Values: Warm, Compassionate, Generous, Nurturing, Inspirational

Shiseido's ads reflect the evolving reality of Japanese women over the past 30 years. The 1992 ad depicts a woman at home, where women typically spent most of their time. The modern ad, however, shows Japanese celebrity Hiromi Nagasaku in various aspects of her life—at work and with her family—showcasing the joy she feels. She appears more confident and assertive, reflecting contemporary Japanese views on beauty. In the past, beauty was associated with cleanliness, but now it encompasses a woman living her life fully and enjoying every moment, illustrating that beauty comes from within rather than just external appearances.

USA

Previous Archetypes and Values: Expressive, Imaginative, Sensuality

New Archetypes and Values:  Playful, Fun-loving, Glamorous, Entertaining

Both Maybelline ads share a similar concept, creating a fantasy world that doesn't take itself too seriously. Beauty is meant to be fun, and the 2023 version feels like a modern update of the earlier ad's playful message. The latest ad features the unexpected pairing of Bretman Rock and Martha Stewart, and utilizes both their brand personas. This shift showcases a growing consumer desire for inclusivity and authenticity in advertising, challenging traditional notions of beauty and expanding the idea of who gets to wear makeup.

Our analysis of ads from these five markets reveals three key ways ideas have traveled, highlighting the shift from one-dimensional to multidimensional beauty. The meaning of this shift varies across cultures.

Many modern ads demonstrate a shift in the relationship and power dynamics between beauty brands and consumers. In the past, the beauty industry focused on highlighting imperfections and promoting unattainable standards that could only be achieved through their products. Today, consumers are more empowered and seek brands that affirm their beauty and support them in their journey to become the best version of themselves.

Markets Demostrating this Theme: USA. Brazil, Japan.

Modern beauty ads seem to share a common thread: beauty is about play and passion. It’s meant to be fun and accessible to everyone who wants to take part in it. It's believed that happiness and fulfillment in life radiate outwardly. When you feel content and satisfied, it enhances your external appearance.Brands need to promote the idea that their products are a means to explore, have fun, and express joy, reinforcing where true beauty comes from.

Markets Demostrating this Theme: USA, Brazil, China, Japan, India.

Seeing yourself on screen is more important than ever before. Consumers are demanding to see people who not only look like them but also reflect the unique interpretations of beauty in their respective countries. They want to see individuals who mirror their ideals and lifestyles and with whom they can emotionally connect.

The expectation is for brands to understand them on a far deeper level and cater to their beauty standards, rather than setting the standards for them.

Markets Demostrating this Theme: USA, Brazil, China, Japan.

Candy remains a favorite in ASMR eating videos due to its visual appeal and sound when chewed. Recently, popular candies with crunchy and sludgy sounds have become especially soothing.

Consumers' tastes now favor sharper, tangier flavors. Sour candy offers a refreshing contrast to sweetness and stimulates dopamine release. It is also believed to be a quick antidote for anxiety, as it distracts the brain from negative emotions and focuses it on the tingly sensation in the mouth.

Nostalgia has hit the candy market, with 90s and 00s favorites like Ring Pops, Airheads, and Nerds topping Amazon’s Best Sellers list, indicating consumers’ craving for childhood snacks.

Write to [email protected] to learn about AI-powered market research and the latest consumer trends.

As beauty standards become more inclusive and diverse, it is clear that consumers are driving a transformative shift in media and advertising, seeking representations that are authentic, empowering, and reflective of their true selves.

If you are interested to learn more, sign upfor our product newsletter or reach out to us at [email protected].

We’re launching an updated version of our ad evaluation tool that can analyse any creative formats, from concepts to storyboard, at our September event. Learn more about AI-volution 2024 here.

Thailand has 8.7 million adolescents, who account for 13.3% of the total population. Research suggests that technologies such as computers, the Internet, and mobile phones have become an integral part of the lives of Thai youth. They are found to be using these digital technologies, especially Internet communication, significantly more than previous generations. A National Statistical Office survey (2011) found that one-fourth of adolescents use the Internet daily. According to the Institute of Management Development, Thailand ranks 38th when it comes to digital competitiveness across the globe. However, there is still much to be done in terms of uptake of technology in the country.

In an attempt to improve digitization across the country, the Thai government included the use of ‘digital tools’ as one of the components in a blueprint aimed at reforming the education system. Digital tools include the development of digital platforms for educational institutions and the compilation of big data.

During the COVID-19 outbreak, the Thai government focused on distance teaching and learning courses through televised broadcasts. However, the global health crisis exposed many problems related to the digital gap in the country — specifically access to technology (especially in rural areas) and the low technological skills of teachers to take on the burden of digital learning. Moreover, a 2020 survey by the National Statistical Office on the readiness of Thai students for online education revealed that 60.18% of the total 43,448 respondents were not ready for online education.

The pandemic may have exposed systemic gaps in the education system, but it has offered an opportunity for students to take ownership of their education. The last few years have also revealed the growing importance of the Internet in adolescents’ education.

Quilt.AI partnered with Quicksand — a design research and innovation consultancy based in India, working across emerging markets — to understand the online world of youths (13- 19-year-olds) — across Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia and Vietnam — and outline the best ways to reach them online.

This study commissioned by the UNICEF East Asia and Pacific Regional Office followed a mixed methods research approach in the five countries. Quilt.AI was responsible for conducting a qualitative analysis of adolescents’ content ecosystems online. This means, exploring the nature of social media accounts, the hashtags followed, and the variety of content posted. Alongside studying social media discourse, we also sought to understand what adolescents search for related to online learning. The findings from the digital ethnography piece was then supplemented by a 1000 person survey, in-depth interviews, and co-design workshops in each country.

For this blogpost, we will be delving into the learnings and insights from the digital ethnography research in Thailand. Findings incorporating other data points can be found in the main report here. To understand the online ecosystem of Thai adolescents, we studied the popular social media platforms Facebook, Pantip, Twitter, TikTok, YouTube, LINE, and Instagram. For all media, except Facebook, adolescents were identified through hashtag and keyword combinations (i.e. #teenageproblems on Pantip or class year in Instagram bios) and location-tagging of local schools. On Facebook, since most individual pages’ likes are private, we used data from the Facebook Audience Insights feature to identify the top liked pages for adolescents.

Some key learnings include:

Online learning takes a supportive community, which the Internet provides

Thai students are using online platforms to supplement their formal classroom learning. The Internet provides a supportive community that caters to their needs and engages with them through the following:

Textual platforms to learn, interact, and compete with other students:

Thai students use textual media, e.g. platforms such as Facebook, Pantip, Twitter and LINE, to vent about their academic lives, seek support, and sometimes even compete with others.

Community-based motivation:

Thai students seek support (in the form of tips, questions, and queries) from their communities online. This helps them hold themselves accountable and gain inspiration from others.

Creatively using visual cues:

Thai students use visual touches to their notes and personalization to make the otherwise mundane task of studying more exciting.

Creating a marketplace for the sale of textbooks:

Students use online platforms to sell and purchase free educational materials like textbooks and notes. Searches for free school textbooks receive around 3000 average monthly searches.

Using platforms such as Pantip:

Pantip is not only a platform popular among youth but people of all ages in Thailand. It is among the most-visited websites in the country. Thai teens use it to anonymously ask questions on sensitive topics such as sexuality, gender identity, and mental health. Since the platform is used more by older individuals, teens use it to seek advice on their careers and challenges faced in school.


Students seek to incorporate creativity into their learning

Our analysis suggests that students want to make learning engaging and fun for themselves. They use several creative methods to do so:

Using unique stickers in their social media uploads:

These stickers allow for the expression of complex emotions and bring a sense of childlike fun and creative expression into conversations about studying and completing school tasks. LINE is also used to communicate with small businesses or service providers (like tutors, tailors, hairdressers, and more).

Note-taking apps to aid learning:

Students are eager to try out new technologies that can assist them in their understanding and retention. The popularity of digital note-taking stems from the need for personalization and visual learning. These apps offer a variety of brushstrokes and the ability to color-code notes without investing in hundreds of color pens. Popular apps include GoodNote and Notability.

Utilizing focus apps:

Students use focus apps (such as Forest and Focus Timer) to aid their studies. The Forest app, in particular, is top-rated because the app allows users to personalize their forest, which teens are seen proudly sharing screenshots of, on social media. Simple interfaces and minimal text make these apps highly popular among students.

Students use the Internet for non-academic activities which can be integrated into their learning

Our analysis revealed, Thai students not only use social media platforms to aid their formal learning, but also as a way to participate in global challenges and to consume popular content.

- The popularity of the Internet can be seen in students’ consumption of content on social media platforms such as YouTube and TikTok. These platforms are typically used for entertainment. For instance, the most popular content on YouTube spans topics such as gaming, lifestyle, and product reviews. Korean videos, i.e. K pop and mukbangs are among the most liked content.

- On the other hand, students use TikTok to showcase their talents to a broader, more global audience. They participate in viral trends that originated in the USA and Korea.

- Their engagement on these platforms is conducive to their learning as it helps them hone English speaking and communications skills, as students interact with people from diverse cultures online. Recognizing the centrality of social media platforms — especially when it comes to entertainment and fun — can help foster academic skills.

Another aspect of the study was to understand how adolescents are supplementing formal education online

The search analysis was complemented by a qualitative study of conversations related to education online. These were studied for sentiments, tonality, visual cues, and top emerging trends across various social media platforms.

These were some of the key findings:

- Community-based motivation: Thai students seek support from their communities online. This helps them hold themselves accountable and also gain inspiration from others.

- STEM subjects are challenging, but Edtech is expensive: STEM subjects have been harder to grasp/teach through digital learning, so students turn to additional resources. However, Edtech for STEM and English resources are expensive, which make them less preferred vis-a-vis other free digital resources on platforms such as YouTube.

- Use of online platforms and focus apps: Students also use online platforms to sell educational materials like textbooks and notes. Focus apps are also popular for their function and simple, accessible interfaces.

south_east

synthesizing vast data into actionable insights that reflect each market's unique cultural and economic backdrop

south_east

grasping the distinct consumer perspectives that these diverse regions offer

Curated digital profiles:

-Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok (US)

-Weibo and Douyin (China)

Pulled 400 million unique searches to estimate the growth of each segment

Used Quilt.AI’s Sphere language and image capabilities to categorise lifestyle areas into specific segments

Glamour Seekers

These consumers are confident, bold, and comfortable with modern masculinity. They also often turn to social media to express their personal style and interests.

Actionable Insight: Collaborate with high-profile fashion influencers to create vibrant, trend-setting campaigns that resonate with this segment's desire for attention and admiration.

Vanity Vanguards

Highly image-driven, these individuals often seek validation through their appearance and are likely to engage heavily with both grooming and fashion products.

Actionable Insight:Leverage digital marketing strategies that feature before-and-after visuals and testimonials that showcase the transformative power of the products

Conscious Icons

These men aim to be recognized as modern, open-minded, and sensitive – embodying the image of "the woke good guy" in today's society by actively participating in movements related to activism and gender equality.

Actionable Insight:Design marketing campaigns that highlight their participation in these movements, showcasing products that enable them to express and amplify their desired social identities.

Youthful Trendsetters

They value beauty while still maintaining traditional masculine ideals of what it means to be good-looking. These men also tend to seek out methods of maintaining their youthful appearances.

Actionable Insight:Market products that boost physical appeal and suit active lifestyles, and focus on dynamic marketing that highlights masculine elegance.

Trusted Patrons

Despite seeing gender in traditionally binary terms, these men aren’t afraid of behaving in more feminine manners. They own their uniqueness and tend to be deeply loyal to brands that affirm their identity.

Actionable Insight:Focusing on brand narratives that celebrate individuality and personal expression will better engage this segment. Brands can also offer personalized services to maintain their commitment.

Innovation Advocates

As consumers who value knowledge, they embrace technology and innovation that enhances their lives. Wanting to stay ahead of the curve, they prefer brands that offer cutting-edge solutions that reflect their own mentality.

Actionable Insight:Market products to this segment by emphasizing innovation, utility, and exclusivity. Brands can focus on how their products integrate the latest technology and engage these men through intelligent content that speaks to their curiosity.

Visuals illustrated are to bring concepts to life only.
Visuals illustrated are to bring concepts to life only.

Way forward: harnessing the power of online platforms

The education sector is going through several reforms. In the last two years, especially, as has been explored through the study, online platforms are becoming increasingly important for students in their education journey. While the problems of access and the digital divide are important considerations for designing online educational interventions, the role of the Internet as a critical learning resource cannot be underestimated. Online platforms present tremendous opportunities for students and should be integrated into formal education.

Based on our analysis, the following recommendations will help tap into the power and research of online platforms:

- Learning resources should integrate tools for self-expression and creativity. For example, bullet journaling and note-taking apps with stickers and multi-coloured highlighters are popular. Future digital learning platforms or apps should allow adolescents to personalize their tools (e.g., memojis) so students remain engaged.

- Students should be directed to relevant Edtech and study apps. The uptake in digital learning means that students have many options for Edtech and educational apps. The government, academic, and private institutes should focus on redirecting students to the relevant existing platforms/communities and work on making them more affordable.

- Edtech platforms can be linked to games and other resources. As noted, gaming is popular among Thai youth. In fact, search trends showed that educational games had the highest search volume and growth. Therefore, institutes or government initiatives can use these to reach adolescents by pushing advertisements for educational resources or mental health services. They can also incorporate separate pages on time management or coping with stress and anxiety.

- Replicate collaborative initiatives to reach adolescents. For instance, brand challenges, such as Huawei’s #มันส์ให้สุดกับY6p in Thailand actively engaged adolescents. Possible partnerships between tech companies, brands, and governments to run similar successful campaigns can be explored.

- Leveraging K-Pop fandom. K-Pop is prevalent everywhere on social media and is an important aspect of Thai adolescents’ daily lives. From connecting with fans worldwide to being idols, K-pop artists greatly influence adolescents’ outlooks. This fandom can be leveraged by integrating messages, promotions, lyrics, songs, or stickers/animations of K-Pop artists into educational resources or campaigns. These act as hooks to help engage or rally adolescents around issues or resources.

A post-pandemic world has made us reimagine a different future — one that integrates technology in the everyday. The education sector is no exception with schools worldover adopting new pedagogies and styles of learning. Online platforms can provide numerous opportunities for students to think critically and creatively engage with concepts outside the confines of their classrooms. It is important for educators and organizations to collaboratively work on integrating the online and offline and reimagining a new future for education.

Visuals illustrated are to bring concepts to life only.
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