As the world economy slips further towards uncertain territory once again, businesses can take comfort in some of the key findings of this year’s BE:Asia media survey.
The survey, which looks at the media consumption behaviour of the Asia-Pacific region’s elite business leaders, provides three key takeaways.
First, Asia is leading the world out of the global economic downturn; secondly business elites are still the most important consumer group for a number of luxury industries; and lastly, traditional media is still a mainstay, despite the increasing importance of digital.
“One thing is certain,” said James Torr, director, business elite of Ipsos MediaCT — the research company responsible for conducting the annual survey — “Asia’s business elites are guiding us through these times.”
Torr was responding to facts that show the world economy has been growing at four per cent year-on-year, whereas the Asia-Pacific economy has been growing at eight per cent over the same period.
Added to this, more than half of the global business elites are looking to China as a world leading economy.
With such tremendous regional growth, Asia’s business elite has never been wealthier with 20 per cent of them being millionaires compared to 17 per cent in Europe. The survey also shows they tend to be involved in making business purchase decisions that are in excess of US$203 billion. It is no wonder they are considered “the single most important customers of luxury industries,” in the words of Andrew Green, global chief marketing office for Ipsos MediaCT.
“As well as being a key audience for business-to-business marketing, they also represent the key to profitability for sectors such as finance, luxury goods and cars, airlines and hotels,” Torr reinforces. Indeed, regional luxury car sales are powering the global automobile market.
As well as being voracious consumers, the region’s business elite is on the move. By 2030, Asia-Pacific is expected to be the largest region for air travel, with a third of passenger airlines’ business to be situated here. Hotel room rates in the region are already double (eight per cent) the global rate, and this is expected to continue.
The business elites averaged nine flights a year last year, and have spent an average of 19 nights in hotels in the last 12 months.
Perhaps not surprisingly, the survey shows these people are finance and investment-savvy: “Less affected by the global downturn, and reaping the rewards,” Torr says, and have a huge appetite for media and news coverage. “What isn’t changing is the presence of these business elites. These are the people [media] needs to be talking with.”
According to the survey, traditional media such as print and TV remains the top choice for business elites. An overwhelming 98 per cent of those surveyed said they still rely on print for information, while 81 per cent said they consumed news content on a monthly basis through TV.
However, while traditional media usage is high, the most noticeable jump in consumption this year is in the area of digital.
Almost four out of 10 surveyed said they access online content through their smartphones and other mobile devices on a monthly basis, while 90 per cent said they use digital media — a jump from 73 per cent just one year ago.
Interestingly, content providers that are able to aggregate information on one site such as
news.yahoo.com and news.google.com have benefitted greatly from this trend.
“For the business elite, digital is a means of keeping informed at all times, especially while on the move,” Torr points out. But will digital replace traditional media? The answer, for now, is still ‘no’.
“Instead of replacing other media, digital supplements their use of print and television. Asia’s business leaders require as much information from as many different sources as possible,” Torr said.
This is partially what is driving the uptake of mobile and tablet technologies and given the trend, Torr says that luxury brands should start paying attention to mobile applications as they are opening up a whole new revenue stream and will soon become an important communications avenue for luxury advertisers and brands, especially with this being their most important customer base.
It’s an opinion borne out by research, which shows that smartphone application downloads are going to reach 14 billion in Asia-Pacific by 2016, and the revenues from paid-for mobile phone apps will reach $2.2billion. Clearly digital is strong and only getting stronger among Asia’s business elite.
BE:Asia is one of a family of international surveys. This year’s sample size was 6,846 business elites from eight countries, such as Hong Kong, Singapore, Indonesia and Thailand.
Qualifying companies were samples from business directories, and individuals occupying eligible job functions, who were identified through a telephone screening process.
Media consumption habits and other behaviours were measured via a self-completion questionnaire administered by mail and online. The fieldwork took place between December 2010 and June this year.