Why p'sula advertisers choose Daily Express
Published on: Thursday, June 10, 2021
By: David Thien
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Kota Kinabalu: Peninsula-based companies prefer to advertise in the Daily Express because they know that being Sabah and Labuan’s leading newspaper, their messages are guaranteed to reach the right audience that can translate into sales.

Daily Express Marketing Manager Dexter Yeh (pic) explained that although the advertising rates are higher than other media based in Sabah, they are still far lower than in the peninsula, including the online platforms.

“Our online presence is also growing and our readership has reached the highest level. KL clients know our website and social media register high viewership.

“That is why they keep engaging with us.”

He was speaking at The New Normal Series webinar [email protected] LINC QUAKE Webinar: “Marketing Insider: Borneo Edition - Localise Your Product Marketing & Win Over East Malaysia” recently.

Yeh agreed with moderator Dino Omar that the Daily Express commands the attention and readership of the segment of the Sabah population that has great spending power due to vast disposable income and savings, for property investments and luxury items, among others.

“The pandemic has been very troublesome and a lot of businesses have been closing but where there are failures and bankruptcies, there are also opportunities.

“I believe West Malaysian companies should be coming to Sabah and see there are plenty of opportunities here, especially since a lot of Sabahans cannot travel to KL.

“A lot of rich Sabahans used to fly to KL and spend their money there. And the pandemic actually forced West Malaysian companies to come here and spend on their marketing campaigns and engage with local customers.”

Dino agreed with Yeh, saying he was impressed with the opulence he has personally seen in Sabah. 

The other panel speakers were Suhaimi Sulaiman, the CEO of Sarawak Media Group; Bank Rakyat chief marketing and communication officer Nizam Sani and Hafizuddin Nizamuddin of Astro Radio East Malaysia.

They acknowledged that Sabah and Sarawak, together made up the largest land size in Malaysia with a market of at least five million customers.

Hence, the Bornean states need to be differentiated by marketers and companies as a “one size fits all approach” cannot apply.

Market segmentation of the various ethnics in East Malaysia with more than 50 communities using their own Bahasa Sabah or Bahasa Sarawak matters a lot to win over acceptance of any promoted brand, item or service. 

Notwithstanding that advertising rates for the East Malaysian market are much cheaper.

The East Malaysia market is by no means unsophisticated as the online e-wallet payment systems have well penetrated, including the respective proprietary e-wallet Sabah Pay and Sarawak Pay systems.

“The pandemic actually forces people to change,” Yeh said, adding that online shopping is super competitive. He cited how Daily Express was engaged by Shopee to effectively reach their targeted Sabahan audiences with the right spending power.

Highlighting the uniqueness of Sabah, he said one can mention a street and chances are that one would find a church, temple and mosque located alongside.

“When it comes to Sabah and Sarawak, actually it’s a huge difference. It’s unique. A totally different market. This is what West Malaysian companies have to understand. 

“You cannot target the East Malaysia market as one due to cultural differences and even the types of food we eat. They need to engage with Sabah people.”

He recalled that Bank Rakyat, whose chief marketing and communication officer Nizam was among the panel, relying on Daily Express to reach out to the Kadazandusun audience vide its Kadazandusun page as a good example of localisation of advertising messages to a local segment of the market.

Sabahans are friends with each other and this simplifies the need for just one message for advertisers to get across. 

“Sabahans are also supportive of local media and companies. Daily Express (being a Sabah-origin newspaper) enjoys a lot of goodwill and is respected for being a standard against fake news which is rampant today on social media,” Yeh said, adding that even the online version carefully checks facts.

He said because Sabahans prefer their own, it was not surprising that West Malaysian papers tried but failed to penetrate the market even before things went digital, until they had to stop distribution (because copies sometimes ended up being flown back unsold). 

“They did not understand the local audience”. 

“They don’t contribute to local community development. What applies to West Malaysia does not necessarily apply here.” 

Suhaimi Sulaiman, CEO of Sarawak Media Group predicted that the future move of the Indonesian capital city to Borneo Kalimantan (near Tawau on Sabah’s east coast) would benefit the local market and people tremendously.

In conclusion, it was agreed that relationship marketing with East Malaysians is very important.

“You really have to build relationships with local audiences so that people really trust your brands and products.” 

He said clients know it is worthwhile to invest their advertising money in the Daily Express. “That’s why they keep coming back when they need to get their messages across to Sabahan audiences,” Yeh said.

He said localisation helps businesses to ensure that their products or services reach the East Malaysian market in a culturally and linguistically appropriate way. 

“By localising your marketing campaigns, you make sure that your product is well-represented and understood by the people in your target locale. You get the opportunity to increase sales.”


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