Jessica Goodfellow
Feb 25, 2021

Consumers in APAC concerned about worsening inequalities and don't want brands to sell dreams: Report

Asia-Pacific consumers chart higher than the global average when it comes to financial and racism concerns caused by the pandemic, and brands should respond accordingly, study finds.

An Indian woman wearing a protective mask in a deserted commercial hub in New Delhi, India (Getty).
An Indian woman wearing a protective mask in a deserted commercial hub in New Delhi, India (Getty).

Consumers across Asia-Pacific are concerned about financial security, worsening inequalities and heightened racism caused by Covid-19, and believe brands should address their concerns rather than selling them dreams, according to the APAC findings of McCann Worldgroup's global pandemic study.

The 'Truth About Culture and Covid-19' study has been running since March 2020 and now covers 10 markets across APAC: China, India and Japan (included since the inception) plus Australia, the Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong, Indonesia and South Korea (recently added). In total, 25 markets across the world are covered in the study.

The data from APAC is diverse, reflective of the different socio-economic conditions in the markets surveyed, as well as demographic and cultural differences.

For example, trust in government is high in every APAC market except Japan, where one third (33%) of respondents believe their government has let them down—higher than the 27% global average. This compares to only 9% of respondents in China and Singapore disappointed by their government. China and Singapore also polled high in their preparedness for the coronavirus outbreak, with 90% and 70% of respondents, respectively, noting their country was prepared, compared to a measly 13% in Japan.

China also contained the highest number of respondents who noted they were following government guidelines very carefully—73% of respondents claimed to be doing so, followed by 70% in Australia and Singapore. This is higher than the 58% of respondents following the rules carefully globally.

But Greater China also contained the highest number of respondents concerned about growing anti-Asian racism as a result of the Covid-19 outbreak, an unfortunate consequence of the outbreak originating from China.

Nearly one-third of respondents in Hong Kong (29%), Singapore (29%), and China (28%) said they were concerned that people will become more racist following the pandemic, compared to 18% globally.

Meanwhile, 38% of respondents in APAC believe Covid-19 has emphasised existing inequalities.

APAC respondents also had heightened financial concerns compared to the global average. More than half (57%) of APAC respondents noted they are concerned that their economy will suffer, as 39% said they are worried that they will lose their job or struggle financially—higher than the 31% global average.

China contained the highest number of respondents concerned about finance of any market, with 60% of people worrying about their jobs/finances, compared to the lowest in Australia at just 26%.

As a consequence of these concerns, consumers want brands to play a more supportive role. More than half (54%) of respondents in APAC said they believed brands should understand their frustrations rather than providing them with dreams, a significant increase from 2018 when only 41% of people said the same.

APAC markets were split on how they planned to spend post-crisis. In India and the Philippines, threeout of four respondents said they would be more conservative with their finances when the crisis is over, while in Japan, 55% said they intended to go do/buy what they haven’t been able to. And in South Korea, 69% of people said they intend to do/purchase what they’ve missed out on as a result of the pandemic.

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