Asian Consumer’s State of Mind

As most of Eat Asia attempts to re-open economies and return their countries on a sound economic footing, one thing is clear; governments can’t do all of the heavy lifting, businesses and especially consumers will need to start spending again if economies are to rebound. That’s why it’s important to understand Asian consumer’s state of mind. Are they worried, comfortable, planning on spending or saving their cash?

Fortunately Deloitte has a created a bi-weekly tracker of consumer habits across fifteen countries including China, South Korea, Japan, India and Australia, along with major North American and European economies, as well as Chile, to try to gauge how consumers really feel.

Economies are intrinsically tied to confidence and so while the Pandemic rages, it is hard for consumers to feel secure in spending money. Many are afraid of losing their job or catching the virus. So in general it is not a surprise to see the most anxious consumers are in places where COVID-19 is not well under control. As an exception to this, the US keeps seeing record daily COVID cases and yet consumers are less anxious than two weeks ago.

The most recent survey shows that spending is slowly returning but health anxieties still weigh heavily on economies. As do economic ones and so while most consumers expect to spend more on essentials, discretionary spending will drop. Notably, China and India think they’ll open their purse strings a little more in the weeks ahead.

Each biweekly survey is fielded using an online panel methodology where consumers are invited to complete the questionnaire (translated into local languages) via email. These surveys, designed to be nationally representative of the overall population in each market, poll 1,000 consumers in each country.

When we look at the data to assess Asian consumer’s state of mind we see a bit of a mixed bag. Indians, which are in the midst of a bad outbreak, are the most optimistic, followed by the Chinese, who have already successfully dealt with the first wave and recent small clusters, than South Korea, who has also done a great job and finally Japan, who just may be more conservative consumer by nature.