What drives brand success in Asia?

By Jo Aitken, July 1, 2016Jo


Yesterday we revealed Acritas’ third annual Asia Pacific Law Firm Brand Index, via webcast.

As with every Acritas Brand Index, our analysts are committed to evaluating brand health in a scientific way and to delving deeper into the results behind the Index. This year three key themes arose from our analysis that are essential for firms with interests in the region to know about:   

1.  Legal spend in the Asia Pacific region is forecast to grow twice as fast as the global average

On balance, a majority of 17% of legal departments in the region will be increasing their legal spend in the next 12 months – this is twice as strong as the global average.  While growth is booming however it is important to note that the average spend per client in the region is much lower than the global average. In China, the average legal budget is one fifth of the value of the average US client.  

There is a tremendous opportunity for firms to seize and those that are most closely aligned with client demand are best placed to succeed.

2. Success in building a strong brand in the region is built on deep local practice

Nine of the top 11 firms published in this year’s Index have offices on the ground in more than four key jurisdictions across Asia Pacific. Combining local and international strength is leading to success for these firms.

Our data shows that international legal spend by Asia-Pacific based clients is also set to grow faster than in the rest of the world. While the US is a key market to receive this legal spend, there is also much intra-regional demand with China, Singapore and Hong Kong key markets for inbound spend within the region.

International firms that had the strategic foresight to invest in building footprint and local capabilities across the Asia Pacific region have a greater chance of securing this growth.

3. China and South Korea continue to gain importance in the world economy

Economic market forces are just as important in defining a firm’s brand health as the positioning efforts the firm makes for itself. This year’s Index is evidence of the increasing importance of the legal markets in China and South Korea to multinationals across the globe.

In 2012 just two Chinese companies were listed in the Top 10 global organizations according to Forbes.  In 2015 Chinese organizations now take four of the top five spots and half of the list altogether. As well as taking a rising share of global GDP, China is now also home to the largest organizations in the world.

Looking at the distribution of all of the Forbes 2000 companies, and the top five countries by volume of organization, South Korea has overtaken France to make the top five for the first time in 2015 – joining the US, China, Japan and UK. Asia also remains the leading region by volume of Forbes HQ companies.

This finding is reflected in the rise of South Korean firms within the Index – especially Kim & Chang, now 4th. Already a dominant brand in its home market, Kim & Chang is benefiting from being the best known firm in an increasingly in demand market. Half of the inbound buyers to South Korea told us they use Kim & Chang, underscoring its go-to status.

Having an international strategy that can be easily translated to clients’ local needs is especially important in a region as diverse as Asia Pacific. As Stuart Fuller, Global Managing Partner at King & Wood Mallesons, put it:

“If you applied a one size fits all in Asia you would fail miserably”.



To access the Acritas Asia Pacific Law Firm Brand Index: 'Beyond the Index Results'  webcast and discover the market trends driving change, as well as to hear from the leadership of the fastest growing brands in the past, please register to receive your link here

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