Taiwan’s economy showed steady growth with GDP increasing to 3.3% this quarter, supported by strong momentum of electronic and semiconductor component exports. Private consumption in Q4 2017 improved due to the decreased unemployment rate, rising salaries, and positive investment in the stock market. This positive sentiment is evident in Taiwanese consumers increasing consumer confidence and willingness to spend despite being lower than regional benchmarks.
In Taiwan’s retail environment, FMCG market achieved limited growth of 0.9% in Q4 with sales from the festival season lower than anticipated. One of festivals is the mid-Autumn festival which is traditionally a big sales event for Food and Beverage gifting. However sales have gradually declined over the years. Manufacturers’ investment in new gift box ranges has been conservative due to a limited return on investment in prior years. Western festivals (Halloween & Christmas) also experienced dampened demand for categories such as Candy and Chocolate.
Within the physical retail landscape, Chain Supermarkets continued to be an important channel. In 2016, it experienced double-digit growth due to significant store expansion, but as the market became saturated, momentum slowed in 2017. E-commerce continues to gain market share with its expanding assortment line both in depth and width on the virtual shelf to attract more shoppers online. The line between offline and online is becoming blurry as both online and offline retailers start to cooperate through a variety of marketing campaigns.
As the total retail landscape becomes increasingly challenging with competitive pricing cutting profit margins, there is a reshuffle of e-tailers taking place in Taiwan. Whether is through merge and acquisition or direct exit from the e-commerce arena, to win in e-commerce investment is required in both hardware and software where only the biggest and fittest will survive.