Byravee Iyer
Oct 7, 2013

What women want varies across Southeast Asia: Hakuhodo study

SINGAPORE - Despite their reputation for splurging on luxury goods, women in Southeast Asia are judicious about their spending, according to Hakuhodo’s annual Global Habit study conducted across 34 major cities in Asia, Europe and the United States.

The survey covers lifestyles, values, purchase attitudes and brand perceptions in many categories
The survey covers lifestyles, values, purchase attitudes and brand perceptions in many categories

Across five of the six cities in Southeast Asia including Jakarta, Metro Manila, Ho Chi Minh City, Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore, consumers tend to compare prices before buying and make planned purchases. Ho Chi Minh City was the only exception, where women claimed to be knowledgeable about products and believed that high quality means high price. Items like shopping wisely and planned purchases received relatively low scores.

What’s more, Ho Chi Minh City was the only city where more than 50 per cent of women preferred well-known luxury brands and put more importance on design than function.

Demographics in the region are also very diverse. Singapore has the highest overall percentage of single women aged 20-34, at 54.2 per cent, and Jakarta the lowest, at 22 per cent. According to data in five-year increments, in the early 20s, singlehood is above 60 per cent in Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Ho Chi Minh City and Metro Manila and 50 per cent in Jakarta and Bangkok. In the late 20s, singlehood drops to around 20 per cent in the four cities, other than Singapore and Kuala Lumpur, where singlehood remains in the 50 per cent bracket.

Hakuhodo interviewed 500 to 800 males and females aged 15 to 54 in each city between May and August 2012, and the interviews were conducted in person.

The rate of employment is highest in Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok and Ho Chi Minh City, where more than 40 per cent of women work full time. Conversely, the rate of employment is low in Metro Manila and Jakarta. In Jakarta, around half the women are homemakers. The rate of married women in employment is highest in Singapore at 77.2 per cent and lowest in Jakarta at 30.6 per cent.

Priorities are more or less similar across the region. In the five cities other than Bangkok, a woman places her family above all other concerns. In Metro Manila and Jakarta, the scores were about 70 per cent, more than 20 points higher than the next most popular answers. In these two cities, many women are married and tend to see their families as their primary concern.

In Bangkok, women tend to value being generous and warm. They also ranked having an independent mind quite highly. In Tokyo, women said they put other people’s needs before their own.

In all cities, women felt clothes demonstrate one’s individuality. In Ho Chi Minh City, women tend to be conscious of how they appear to the opposite sex when deciding what to wear. Ho Chi Minh residents are also most sensitive to fashion trends and believe they are fashionable. Singaporeans valued quality and function and didn’t care too much for private or fast fashion brands.

In Metro Manila, there is a preference for relaxed over stylish clothes. Since many Metro Manila women are homemakers they are likely to have less financial leeway, but frequently take advantage of sales and bargains.




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