Faaez Samadi
Oct 10, 2016

APAC consumers evolving at vastly different rates: Forrester

New study finds fastest and most progressive consumer empowerment in urban India and China, while expectations are high across the board, even among those most resistant to innovation.

APAC consumers evolving at vastly different rates: Forrester

ASIA-PACIFIC - While all Asia-Pacific consumers are evolving and gaining empowerment through digital access, the rate and manner of this evolution is hugely varied across markets, according to Forrester’s latest study.

The report, which explores empowered customer segmentation, surveyed 4,000 APAC online adults across five markets: China, India, Australia, Japan and Korea.

From analysing responses, Forrester created five categories of consumer for its research: progressive pioneers, savvy seekers, convenience conformers, settled survivors and reserved resistors.

It found that APAC consumers are all evolving in five key ways—their willingness to experiment, device usage, digital/physical integration, information savviness, and self-efficacy—but that the speed of these influences was markedly different and did not align with demographics alone.

Anjali Lai, Forrester data analyst and co-author of the report, told Campaign Asia-Pacific: “Demographics alone aren’t enough to predict consumer behaviour; it’s more about emotion and core motivation. Stated intentions don’t always align with subsequent behaviour, and customers are now doing things that were once considered improbable or irrational.”

Metropolitan India and China have the highest concentration of empowered consumers, with 62 percent and 57 percent of their online adult consumers fitting the progressive pioneer profile, respectively.

Connectivity has exploded in both markets—the mobile internet rate in China grew from 6 percent in 2008 to 45 percent in 2016—leading to some of the highest consumer expectations in APAC, coupled with a willingness to experiment with the latest technology, according to Forrester.

Exemplifying this are the findings that 94 percent of metropolitan online adults in India access the web from their phones at least daily, while 44 percent report making more impulse online purchases on their smartphones than any other device.

“The progressive pioneer types are really driven by the need for novelty and variety,” said Lai. “They get bored very easily, so there’s an emotional driver that makes them keep an eye out for new products on the market and staying on top of new innovations.”

Further down the line, one third of Australian consumers are convenience conformers, which Forrester defines as those who use technology to make their lives easier, but only after it has gained wide market acceptance. For example, the research states, half of Australian online adults use a tablet, but only 4 percent use a smartwatch.

Lai says convenience conformers are also evolving quickly, but rather than being driven by novelty, it is speed and an expectation of simplicity without requiring any buy-in that keeps these consumers empowered.

Somewhat surprisingly, more than a third of Japanese consumers were found to be reserved resistors, people who are generally older, more risk-averse and resistant to technological change.

However, tempering this is the finding that its second-largest consumer group are savvy seekers, younger consumers that are digitally open and highly engaged with new products.

More than 40 percent of South Koreans also fit into this category. Three-quarters of online South Korean adults have purchased products or services online in the past three months, more than in any of the other countries Forrester covers in APAC.

Lai said the research found that progressive pioneers and convenience conformers typify the challenge that brands face.

“They are the wealthiest of all the segments, so they’re incredibly valuable, they have strong purchase power, but they’re motivated by very different things. So how companies go about bringing these types of consumers into their ecosystems will be very different.”

She added: “The questions CMOs have to answer are: ‘How fast are my customers evolving? In what ways are they evolving? How can we measure the most important drivers of these types of behaviour and also be anticipatory?’ That was at the core of what drove this research.” 

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