Community and individual identities are largely shaped by the neighbourhoods we grow up in. Businesses often overlook these distinct identities in their preoccupation with crafting marketing campaigns to attain the highest exposure. In attempts to gain mass appeal however, brands often fail to capture the attention of individuals from similar, but uniquely different communities in different Malaysian neighbourhoods.

In short, not all of your generic brand messages are going to be highly effective in every neighbourhood.

Do people’s perception of neighbourhoods affect your brand?

You bet it does. Where you’re located and who has access to your brand contributes to the associations people make with your brand. If you’re an upscale shoe brand in a low-key neighbourhood known for its hawker stalls and local graffiti, consumers might start associating local vibes and people who love street art with your brand.

With where you’re located (or where you potentially plan to be/not to be), it’s invaluable to keep in mind and craft neighbourhood-specific brand messages.

With little extensive socioeconomic studies done between districts in the Klang Valley, we’ve ventured to simply asking local folks how they perceived three different neighbourhoods to offer insights in helping you craft neighbourhood-specific messages in your campaigns.

*note: opinions mentioned in the following do not necessarily reflect beliefs held by us at Ganforhire.

Petaling Jaya

The quieter counterpart to KL, Petaling Jaya is marked by its affluent demographic, evident through the high number of upscale residential zones, commercial centres and large shopping malls. The bulk of private universities in the neighbouring district, Subang Jaya has made both districts famous hotspots for students, both foreign and local.

“On one hand, you have the students and young adults with high fashion sense. There are hipsters, foodies, vape shops and hipster cafes. On the other hand you get the older crowd who still hang out in kopitiams. Most of the kids here are into fashion, hipster coffee houses, fusion restaurants, vape cafés and bars,” says Sarah Mansoor, 21.

“You’ll see the dodgy parts of PJ come alive after midnight. Got cars that race on the LDP. Modded [modified] cars all la. If you want there are back-alley alcohol shops that sell cheap drinks also. Just gotta know where to ring the bell and who to ask for”, says Tham, 25.

Kuala Lumpur

The largest city in Malaysia, KL is the prime hub of diversity and economic development. While some believe the city is rich in culture and rife with activity there are many who hold unfavourable views toward the saturated racial communities and sketchy back-alleys.

“KL is fun. It’s an all-in-one place for everything. Can party, shop, and have good food,” says Amir Zukifli, 23

“Everything is expensive. Parking is expensive. Jams are crazy. You say rich in culture? What culture? To be honest ah? There are a lot of banglas, ang moh, and Chinese [from mainland China] that’s why I don’t like going there,” says Wong, 28.

“Sure there are massage parlours, drug dealers and GRO bars but you tell me which place don’t have? KL is KL. There’s good and the bad depending on what you’re looking for,” says Brenda Tew, 23.


Klang is best known for its port (Port Klang), shipping companies, industrial factories and most infamously…. Gangsters.

“There’s nothing much to do in Klang except have Bak Kut Teh. A lot of residents here are factory and port workers. What’s interesting? A lot of gangsters. Sometimes the stereotype is real. Crime rates are relatively high. Branded goods here don’t hold as much weight as they do in KL. Klang is about industry and work.” says Manraj, 25.

“Crime rate super high in Klang right? But without the gangsters we wouldn’t have VCD back then. Last time where can stream?” says Boon Hong, 32.


A suburb south-east to KL, Cheras is the more low-key (albeit obscure) counterpart to Petaling Jaya.

“What’s there to do in Cheras anyway? It’s always jammed. They have an Ikea, right?” says Amanda Tan, 23

“Cheras is boring, mundane, and low-key. Drivers aren’t kiasu but they are mean. You can find a lot of stuff there but it’s just confusing because Cheras is so big,” says Trinity Cheng, 30.

Perhaps you can be the first prominent brand Cheras is known for.

The Takeaway

What do these opinions mean and why should you care? Understanding people’s perception of a neighborhood gives you formidable insight when strategizing campaign slogans and ads. Would it not make sense to craft neighborhood-specific messages around the prevailing sentiments and perceptions of residents? Specially catered messages show that you’re in touch with the perspectives of many – to the effect of showing that you’re a brand concurrent with societal perceptions and expectations.

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