Sophie Chen
Aug 13, 2013

Economy concerns high among Asia-Pacific consumers: GfK

SINGAPORE – Consumers are showing increasing concern over economy-related matters due to the slowdown in a number of Asia-Pacific markets, according to a global survey by GfK.

Australians stand out as the most cautious in the region
Australians stand out as the most cautious in the region

Australians are the most careful spenders in the region, while consumers in Singapore, Vietnam and Thailand show high level of concerns towards inflation.

The consumer insights are based on GfK’s Roper Reports Worldwide report. The survey was conducted in January and February 2013 on more than 40,000 consumers aged 15 and above across 28 countries, including 11 from Asia Pacific: Australia, China, India, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia and Vietnam.

The findings show two in every five surveyed are worried about recession and unemployment as well as inflation and high prices, while one in three are concerned about having enough money to live as they wish and pay the bills.

Consumers in Singapore (65 per cent), Thailand (55 per cent), China (51 per cent) and Indonesia (39 per cent) are most anxious about inflation, while those in Taiwan (57 per cent), Korea (51 per cent) and Japan (43 per cent) are mostly worried about recession and unemployment. Half of the Australian respondents are concerned about their personal finances, and those in Malaysia (67 per cent), Vietnam (55 per cent) and India (51 per cent) are most worried about crime and lawlessness.

Jodie Roberts, regional director for GfK consumer trends, explained that economic conditions have in most cases stabilised, but there is a significant level of uneasiness around various areas.

She said other areas which also registered significant levels of concern but only in specific countries include drug abuse in Thailand (55 per cent) and Indonesia (37 per cent), cost of healthcare in Singapore (42 per cent), and educational quality in China (33 per cent) and Indonesia (32 per cent).

The survey revealed that to cut expenses, consumers would first opt out of dining out at restaurants with 34 per cent of respondents having done it in the past 12 months. Also, nearly a quarter (23 per cent) decided to buy less clothing and shoes.

However, one of the key categories that will remain strong is technology.

“This is one area where consumers are not cutting back as much and consumers intend to purchase both home and personal electronics in the next year or two,” Roberts told Campaign Asia-Pacific.

To save money, GfK found consumers tend to use coupons, use less or go without an item, shop at discount stores, purchase energy-saving products, buy in bulk to get greater discounts and switch to cheaper brands.

The findings also show that Australians, Koreans and Taiwanese are the most careful spenders in the region as they consciously implement saving strategies. For example, Australians are more inclined to shop more carefully for daily necessities (63 per cent) and postpone purchases until the product was on sale or special offer (63 per cent); and Koreans (73 per cent) along with the Taiwanese (67 per cent) have used a coupon.

Roberts said companies should note that these behaviours remain even as the economic environment improves.

“Brands that offer good value will do well,” she said. “This doesn't necessarily mean low cost, but also includes other factors such as durability, quality, trust and so forth. Consumers are becoming increasingly sophisticated about the way they spend money.”

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