Emily Tan
Oct 10, 2012

Asia-Pacific’s affluent are flying more, buying more, investing less: Ipsos PAX

ASIA-PACIFIC – The fluctuating economy has led to a spending shift among Asia’s wealthy, as they opt to spend in travel but shun financial investments, according to Ipsos’ 2012 PAX survey results.

Despite financial concerns, Asia's elite continue to indulge
Despite financial concerns, Asia's elite continue to indulge

In its 16th year, the study is now handled by Ipsos, which recently acquired and absorbed Synovate. The report is based on a survey of more than 20,000 affluent people from 11 markets across the region: Hong Kong, Singapore, Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Malaysia, India, Indonesia, the Philippines, Australia and Japan.

As Asia-Pacific’s market develops, its more affluent individuals have started to develop a taste for the finer things in life, Steve Garton, executive director of business insights for Ipsos Hong Kong, said at a press briefing yesterday.

The report found that Asia’s wealthy are travelling more, with the total number of flights increasing to 6.8 million as well as the proportion of people who have had three or more business trips increasing from 5.7 per cent to 6.4 per cent. Those flying business or first class have also increased regionally from 2.5 per cent to 2.7 per cent.

Leisure trips are also up in the region, with 36 per cent of respondents flying at least once (from 35 per cent last year) and the number flying at least three times a year up to 7.1 per cent from 6.7 per cent. Asia’s well-to-do are also increasingly treating themselves to business or first class when they travel for leisure, with 2.7 per cent eschewing coach, compared with 2.1 per cent last year.

When surveyed, respondents said they were interested in exploring the culture of other countries (57 per cent) as their top reason for leisure travel.

Asia’s elite are also spending more on fine jewellery. The sector, which took a hit last year, has since bounced back to grow 25 per cent since last year. “Clearly, elites have money to spend on things they consider important,” said Garton.

Technology items are another indulgence Asia’s elite are allowing themselves. Laptop or notebook ownership has risen from 56 per cent to 59 per cent, catching up with desktop computer ownership, which held steady at 60 per cent.

Smartphone onwership continues its impressive growth, from 32.8 per cent last year to almost half of the population (49.5 per cent) this year. Tablets also grew exponentially, and is already at 19.5 per cent ownership across the region. Purchase intention levels for smartphones and tablets are still strong, at 15.9 per cent and 17.3 per cent, respectively

The latest TVs are gaining in popularity as well, with 43 per cent in Asia-Pacific already owning either an HDTV, a 3D TV or Smart TV. In Taipei, 24 per cent of respondents already own a Smart TV—the highest in the region.

However, investment in financial products has gone down, potentially due to a lack of trust in the current economic climate. The proportion of people investing in stock, securities or bonds has declined from 32.5 per cent to 28.6 per cent, while most other types of investments remain at best stable.

Life insurance is down from 63.9 per cent to 59.1 per cent, investment in foreign currencies remains stable at 11 per cent, unit trust funds or mutual funds investment is down from 21.6 per cent to 18.5 per cent and offshore accounts for investment purposes are also down from 7.2 per cent to 6.2 per cent.

Even the property market seems to have come under scrutiny. Only half the respondents (down from 53 per cent last year) are home owners, and the proportion of those who invest in properties (other than the house they live in) has likewise dropped from 19.1 per cent to 18.2 per cent.

In terms of media consumption, Asia-Pacific’s affluents are more tuned in than ever, chalking up 155 million hours online (not including email), 209 million hours watching TV, and 75 million hours reading print content in a week.

Regional media is preferred by this category with CNN leading the news channels across TV, web sites, mobile web and apps reaching a third (32 per cent) of the PAX universe across a month. It’s also watched weekly by more than a quarter of Asia’s top management.

Commenting on the report, William Hsu, vice-president, news advertising sales for CNN in Asia-Pacific, noted that it was the first time the PAX survey measured multi-platform media presence. “We were delighted to see that the PAX results further solidified our position as the number one news brand in terms of multi-platform reach,” he said.

While CNN holds the lead, BBC World News was Asia-Pacific’s fastest growing channel, increasing its audience across the board in terms of daily, weekly and monthly viewing to reach 9 per cent of the PAX universe a week and 16.8 per cent of top management.

Jim Egan, COO of BBC Global News, said that the results reflected the network’s investment in Asia. “BBC World News has revamped its output in Asia… and as viewers across Asia demonstrate a growing appetite for global news, they’re increasingly turning to BBC World News and BBC.com/news for trusted and impartial coverage of global and local events.”

Ipsos declined to release further media consumption results for this survey. 

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