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Getting the Measure of Southeast Asia

I had the pleasure of travelling to Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam in quick succession last month. There were two key questions that were asked of me in each of these markets, ‘namely what’s the future of online retail?’ and ‘what are their dominating values?’ At GfK Consumer Trends, we’ve been monitoring consumer propensity to make purchases online and we can confirm, that across all markets in Asia Pacific it’s on the rise.

In emerging markets, online retail is still at low levels, but it is set to rise in the future. The other feature of online retailing in markets such as Indonesia and Vietnam is the way the transactions take place. For example in Vietnam, credit card penetration is very low and trust in websites is an important issue, so while the negotiations and ‘purchase’ may take place online the actual cash exchange will occur upon delivery of the goods.

When it comes to Personal Values – the things that act as guiding principles in consumers’ lives –  traditional Values such as Faith, Thrift and Duty are dominant in Indonesia and Thailand. However we are starting to see a shift in Thailand towards ‘Power’ and ‘Achiever’ Values, similar to that we’ve witnessed in China in recent years.

There is a clear link between the development of a country and the evolution of consumer Values. Moreover understanding values is extremely important as they ultimately determine the purchase decisions that consumers make. They can be a key part of your branding and marketing communications strategies.

GfK Roper Reports (r) Worldwide will expand its Southeast Asian coverage to include Singapore, Malaysia and Vietnam in 2013 – so we will be able to confirm the values orientation of these markets in the coming months – in the meantime my money is on ‘Power’ dominating Singapore ‘People’ dominating Malaysia and ‘Tradition’ dominating Vietnam. Stay tuned!

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