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APAC consumers worry about economy

Economic matters appear to top the list of concerns for today’s Asia Pacific consumers.

According to GfK, two in every five surveyed are worried about recession and unemployment as well as inflation and high prices, and at the same time, one in three said they are concerned about having enough money to live right and pay their bills.

While consumers in Singapore (65 per cent), Thailand (55 per cent), China (51 per cent) and Indonesia (39 per cent) expressed their greatest anxiety towards inflation, those in Taiwan (57 per cent), Korea (51 per cent) and Japan are mostly worried about recession and unemployment.

Meanwhile, the topmost concern of half of the Australian respondents revolved around their personal finances. Crime and lawlessness also rank among the top four worries in the region, particularly in Malaysia (67 per cent), Vietnam (55 per cent) and India (51 per cent).

“Economic conditions have in most cases stabilised, but there is a significant level of uneasiness around various areas,” said Jodie Roberts, regional director for GfK consumer trends.

“There are other areas which also registered significant levels of concern but only in specific countries, such as drug abuse in Thailand (55 per cent) and Indonesia (37 per cent), cost of healthcare in Singapore (42 per cent) and educational quality in China (33 per cent) and Indonesia (32 per cent).”

Consumers have been treading carefully when it comes to their regular expenses as seen in their conscious reduction in spending on various aspects of their life, says GfK.

In their effort to cut cost, the first that most often will be struck off from their list of regular activities is dining out at restaurants, something which over a third (34 per cent) of respondents said they have done in the past 12 months. Nearly a quarter (23 per cent) also stated buying less clothing.

Along the similar theme of saving money, GfK also uncovered the prudence exercised by consumers of different countries on where to spend their cash. Given a list of money saving strategies which included using coupons, using less or going without an item, shopping at discount stores, purchasing energy-saving products, buying in bulk to get greater discounts, switching to cheaper brands etc, findings revealed that the Australians, Koreans, and Taiwanese are the most careful spenders in the region as they consciously implement saving strategies.

For instance, Aussies are more inclined to shop more carefully for daily necessities (63 per cent) and postpone purchases until the product was on sale/special offer (63 per cent); and Koreans (73 per cent) along with the Taiwanese (67 per cent) use coupons.

“In markets like Australia where there has been some economic uncertainty – and particularly where cost of living is so high, consumers have become a lot more cautious about how they spend their money,” said Roberts.

“An important point for companies to note is that these behaviours remain even as the economic environment improves, and thus companies which are able to deliver on value – which is not necessarily about lowest price – will benefit from this consumer trend,” Roberts concluded.

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