Gabey Goh
Nov 4, 2015

SEA consumers still focused on financial security: Nielsen

SINGAPORE - Across six Southeast Asia markets, consumers’ focus on building their financial security for the future remains prominent, according to the latest Nielsen Global Survey of Consumer Confidence and Spending.

SEA consumers still focused on financial security: Nielsen

More than seven in 10 respondents in the region (71 percent) put their spare cash into savings, while one in three (29 percent) invest in shares of stock or mutual fund and 17 percent top up their retirement fund.

Discretionary purchase intentions high on the priority shopping list of consumers in Southeast Asia included spending on holidays/vacations and new clothes.

Regan Leggett, Nielsen client service director in Southeast Asia, North Asia and Pacific said consumers in the region are consistent in their desire to build a nest egg for the future.

“Only after setting aside money in savings or investments do they then look at discretionary spending on holidays, new clothes, home improvements, technology and out of home entertainment,” he added.

While consumer confidence across a number of Southeast Asia markets has taken dips in Q3 2015, the Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam remain among the world’s top 10 most optimistic.

“With the exception of Malaysia, Southeast Asian confidence levels are still tracking above the global average, but the past few quarters have seen some tapering in some markets which is reflective of softening in the region’s economy,” said Leggett.  

“Concerns about the economy, political stability and the increasing cost of living are causing apprehensions for consumers in some markets, leading them to pull back on spending,” he added.

The Nielsen consumer confidence index measures perceptions of local job prospects, personal finances and immediate spending intentions, among more than 30,000 respondents with internet access in 61 countries. Consumer confidence levels above and below a baseline of 100 indicate degrees of optimism and pessimism.

According to the index, the Philippines ranked third globally as home to the world’s most confident consumers, although the country posted a quarter-on-quarter decline of five points to a Consumer Confidence Index score of 117. The year-on-year trend for the Philippines was up two points, however.

Indonesia closely follows as the market with the fourth most confident consumers, with a score of 116, dropping four points from Q2 2015 and down nine points year-on-year, while Thailand (ranked fifth globally) is flat quarter-on-quarter with 111 and down marginally (2 points) compared to the same quarter a year ago.

Vietnam ranked tenth globally with a Consumer Confidence Index score of 105, up one point quarter-on-quarter and up three points year-on-year while Singapore gained two points to register a score of 101.

Meanwhile Malaysia, which posted the region’s lowest Consumer Confidence Index (78) also posted the region’s steepest decline, down 11 points quarter-on-quarter and 21 points year-on-year, largely driven by consumers’ concern around currency devaluation and rising food prices.

Globally, consumer confidence rose slightly to 99 in Q3 2015, up three points compared to Q2 2015.

While the survey revealed that Southeast Asian consumers remain among the world’s most optimistic, they have been less upbeat with recessionary sentiment permeating in three markets out of the six measured in the region.

Recessionary sentiment is on the rise in the region, with notable double-digit percentage points increase in Malaysia (16) and Indonesia (10).

Recessionary sentiment also grew in Thailand, up eight percentage points. In contrast, recessionary sentiments are down in Singapore (-5), Vietnam (-3), and the Philippines (-1).

The economy, job security, health, work/life balance, political stability, parents’ welfare and increasing utility bills feature prominently in Southeast Asian consumers’ list of key concerns in Q3 2015.


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