Heading East – new horizons in Asia
Off the back of the popularity of its launch in Germany two years ago, Wunderino expanded its services and went live in Japan late last year. Head of Marketing, Erik Hellqvist discusses the budding potential of the Asian market and how they intend to position themselves as one of the leading brands in Japan.
This year we celebrate two years as a brand. If I were to break down the key factors to our success, it would be that we have a really great team within all departments: from the two main founders to everyone else concerned. We had a very successful launch in Germany, which has been our key focus for the first couple of years. I also credit hard work and a little bit of luck because timing is really important. No matter what industry you’re in, you have to have timing on your side. We’ve been pretty lucky in that sense.
We went live in Japan late last year, so this year we intend to focus a lot more of our energies on this market. In fact, I recently moved to Manila to be able to devote more of my focus towards this area. There are two main obstacles that I foresee will require tackling: firstly the product needs to cater specifically for the Japanese market and secondly we need to devise a marketing challenge. The situation differs vastly from that in Europe; Japanese people are very different from Europeans in all aspects. This really reflects on the product as well, so it’s essential we pay attention and not underestimate the situation.
What will work in Europe won’t necessarily work by default in Japan. You have to adjust to really cater for the Japanese market. The product side is one thing; you really have to have the game providers and the methods to cater for Japan. Customer support is also totally different in Japan than in it is in Europe. Japan is a great market, but the fact is, Japan is very traditionally conservative. There has also been the recent debate on the anti-gambling addiction bill to contend with. Due to tradition, it’s a challenge to find good marketing channels. Right now the debate in Japan is focused on the land-based market rather than online markets – particularly with the Olympics just round the corner.
Japan today is very affiliate orientated, if you want to do online gaming it’s very dependent on affiliates because of the difficulty in doing other medias. Naturally, we will focus on other affiliates – we have a good, strong base today and we’re beginning to explore other opportunities. We don’t know what they are yet but at the end of the day, that’s why we’re here – to find out.
Asia is a huge market: there is definitely a thriving market here. People do gamble in Asia – and obviously, with mobile penetration it makes it much easier to access while helping things to grow, just like in any other part of the world. We can also expect to see Bitcoin solutions and payment methods coming into play as a trend this year, particularly in Japan. A lot of European operators are looking into Asian markets, certain countries are definitely growing: Thailand in particular is on everyone’s lips right now.
I’m also sitting on a panel at the iGaming Asia Congress in March; the topic is about affiliates and the role they play for operators. It’s what made me say yes to the invitation to participate. It’s a topic that people talk about all the time, whether it’s an Operator Company like us, or just in general with affiliates. It’s always a hot topic that has a myriad of views and one I always like to talk about – especially as I have been working with affiliates for many years.
In light of our concentrated focus on the Asian Market, the upcoming Affiliate Grand Slam in Hong Kong is of particular importance to us. I think it is vital to be present there and to show people we are here. It offers a great opportunity for us to tap into the region and network; you never know who you’re going to meet or run into and what that might lead to. My experience from being in the industry for more than ten years has taught me that networking is definitely important if you want to discover new trends and people that might lead to new business.
I’m looking forward to the future, there are lots of exciting projects yet to be revealed – so keep an eye on us because Wunderino definitely has a lot in the offing for this year. As a brand and as a company we want to be modern, whether that is through a product or in our marketing efforts. We have to know what is out there, whether it is a technology gaming provider or new emerging markets. Whatever it might be, it’s definitely interesting to be here, making the most of the opportunity to learn more about the unique nature of the Asian market.
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