Study reveals Asian dining spending trends

One in three millennials in Asia are eating at fine dining restaurants at least once a month – more often than those aged over 30.

The surprise finding is one of a list of revelations uncovered by a MasterCard survey of Asian dining trends away from home. It featured consumers in 17 Asia Pacific markets: Australia, Bangladesh, China, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Myanmar, New Zealand, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam.

The most frequent fine-diners in Asia Pacific are millennials (18-29 year olds) from China – on average they visit more expensive establishments two or three times a month. This is higher than the average for millennials across the region and higher than any other age group.

When choosing where to eat, consumers in Asia Pacific still prefer to rely on word of mouth and recommendations from friends and family (50 per cent). This was applicable for all consumers, regardless of age group, with even millennials trusting word of mouth recommendations (52 per cent) more than online reviews (38 per cent).

This is despite the fact that more than a third of millennials (36 per cent) post comments and reviews of their dining experiences online. This is especially true of Chinese (61 per cent) and Thai (52 per cent) millennials, where more than half of the young people polled regularly post reviews after a meal.

Beyond millennials, people in Thailand (39 per cent) and China (30 per cent) are also the most likely to spend more on dining over the next six months with around one in three indicating they plan to eat at more expensive establishments.

But while consumers may be enjoying fine dining, they are still cost conscious. Sixty-four per cent of consumers in Asia Pacific regularly check for discounts or dining deals from coupon websites, mobile applications or credit card promotions. Sixty-eight per cent of millennials regularly look out for deals before choosing a place to eat.

Eric Schneider, regional head, Asia Pacific, with MasterCard Advisors, said Asia has always had a strong dining out culture and so it is not surprising that affluent millennials in the region are ‘foodies,’ with many sharing their dining experiences on social media and posting reviews online.

“While the survey has shown that people are increasingly moving from the hawker centres and into restaurants, young people are still cost conscious, taking a practical and savvy approach by looking for discounts and deals. Young people also still rely on word of mouth recommendations, despite many posting online reviews of dining spots. As Asia’s economies continue to grow, and with technology and social media revolutionizing the dining experience, people will increasingly demand top quality experiences when dining out,” he said.

Other findings from the survey included:

  • Overall, consumers in Asia Pacific are not looking to make any significant changes to their dining out plans with 61 per cent of all consumers indicating they will look to eat out at the same frequency in the next six months. Twenty per cent plan to eat out more and 19 per cent plan to eat out less in the next six months.
  • The most popular dining option for consumers in Asia Pacific are mid-range restaurants and cafes, followed by fast food outlets and then hawker centres and food courts.
  • Consumers in the Philippines (44 per cent) are looking to tighten their belts with close to one in two planning to eat at less expensive venues in the next six months. Forty-nine per cent also plan to eat out less regularly.
  • A significant proportion of older consumers are going online to check for dining discounts whether on coupon websites/applications or credit card promotions. More than one-third of consumers aged 55 years old and above (36 per cent) indicated they regularly do so before deciding on a dining option.
  • Consumers in China (58 per cent), Taiwan (44 per cent) and Thailand (44 per cent) are the most likely to book dining deals on coupon sites or coupon applications; while consumers in Bangladesh (1 per cent) and Indonesia (11 per cent) were least likely to do so.
  • Diners in Thailand (60 per cent) and China (57 per cent) are most likely to post comments or reviews on social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter with about one in two respondents in these markets reporting that they regularly post comments online following their dining experience.

The results are based on interviews with 8698 individuals aged 18 to 64 years-old.

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