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Consumer Trends

2021 Under Scrutiny

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Google published its Year in Search 5 trends for the APAC region.

Trend 1: Digital mainstreamed

In the first half of the year alone, 20 million people in Southeast Asia became new digital consumers.

APAC businesses seek to understand more about digital transformation strategies and online inventory management, while new online shoppers are looking to be rewarded for their brand choices.

Half of APAC consumers surveyed see no reason to go in-store if they can buy what they need online. Rising searches show how shoppers are using digital channels as a helpful tool for decision-making, but are reluctant to endure downsides like delivery waiting times and costs.

APAC consumers entertain themselves with connected TV and live commerce (online) or content like podcasts and audiobooks (offline, on-the-go).

Trend 2: Lives reexamined

Half of the consumers in APAC say the pandemic inspired them to reevaluate what was important to them in life, with the most significant shifts in priority being their approach to finance and savings, time with loved ones, and a greater sense of self-care and “treat yourself” mentality. Indeed, emotional wellbeing is predicted to be a key focus for people in 2022 as they gravitate towards emotional acceptance and towards dedicating time to feel.

As evidence of the global “Great Resignation” trend, compared with other regions, APAC workers are most likely to change professional paths, with 47% considering changing employers and 56% planning a career change.

APAC is readier than other regions to adopt a hybrid working model as people begin taking charge of their own time and space, particularly at home.

People in APAC have placed more value on spending time with their families, and some even see it as more important than being financially secure or successful.

Trend 3: Bridging distances

COVID-19 is still a top concern for people, and consumers in APAC remain wary of being in close physical contact with others. In fact, people in India, Japan, and South Korea feel more anxious about resuming normal activities compared to the global average.

Half of APAC consumers are still choosing to meet their loved ones virtually instead of in-person and searches for online group activities like escape rooms, races and concerts are seeing consistent growth.

Gift-giving has become particularly trendy in APAC, where more than half the online population has bought a gift for someone online, trending higher than any other region in the world.

Photoshoots have seen more than 350% growth across APAC countries, as people are taking time to capture moments that others cannot be there in person for.

Top food service brands are offering “send to many” and “multi-delivery” services that allow customers to order online as a group and receive meals in different locations at the same time.

Trend 4: Truth seekers

  • 86% in APAC express worries about fake news. Consumers, especially Gen Zers, are now more conscious about the mix of both facts and misinformation that can be found online.
  • 87% of APAC consumers say it is now more important to find a trusted source of information, compared with before the pandemic started.

Consumers today expect to be reassured along their shopping journeys. Authenticity is a key issue on marketplaces for 31% of shoppers surveyed and there is increasing interest in delivery tracking and official stores of popular brands.

Trend 5: Growing inequalities

  • Lower-income households experienced a higher concentration of job losses while their children missed twice as many days in a school year compared with those from high income families. Women too, suffered increased violence, with 83% in Indonesia reporting that domestic violence worsened due to COVID-19.
  • Consumers experience anxiety when transacting in a foreign language. In fact, up to 40% of consumers won’t consider making a purchase unless they can access information in their local language.
  • As APAC experiences high unemployment rates, consumers are searching for different ways to alleviate economic concerns. Whether it’s a business grant or a cash loan, people in APAC are looking for financial support to tide them over in an uncertain year.
  • The general APAC region is still lagging behind the global average when it comes to the importance of equal rights, but people are starting to become more curious about inclusion and equity.
Wawa Gilewski Market Intelligence