For the last twelve months we’ve spoken to 50+ families across all corners of Asia, looking for large market trends and collecting personal stories from inside people’s homes and on the street; we have been asking about everything from family life to favourite objects, travel destinations to social aspirations. This is our regional list of some of the bigger trends we think will be shaping the consumers and markets across Asia in the near future.
CHINA – The incubator of ubiquitous apps
As China’s internet penetration passes 50% this year – just over 700 million users – the online market establishes itself as the shopping channel of choice for goods and services. With the ever growing connectivity it’s exciting to see how ‘home grown’ apps are not only shaping the Chinese consumer, but setting the trend for the future of commerce and communication globally.
WeChat not only dominates China’s messaging app market but is becoming truly ubiquitous allowing users to transfer money, hail a taxi, deliver a pizza or book a doctor’s appointment, whilst XiaoHongShu (Little Red Book) China’s $1bn shopping app is turning everyone into trend spotters.
KOREA – A society of two faces; home vs public
Korean life is competitive in all things: final year school students can get police escort to their final exams to make sure their don’t miss them, people confess to carrying an empty coffee cup around to show their participation in the highly popular café culture and expectant mothers feel bound to go on spiritual holidays and to paint mindfulness paintings to ensure the best start in life for their unborn child. In a society where many feel there are constantly being judge, individuals and companies are going to great lengths in an attempt to escape.
The home – a place of escape from competitive society – has started shaping consumer trends, whilst at work stressed employees are shut inside coffins or sent to laughing therapy in an attempt to teach them the value of life and happiness.
INDIA – The new men and women
India’s population is young; with over 50% of its population below the age of 25 and more than 65% below the age of 35, the average consumer is competitive, impressionable and social image consciousness. The increasing media exposure and globally informed aspirations of the new middle class has started to create new definitions of femininity and masculinity, causing tension as well as liberation for young men and women in a society still bound by strong traditions.
Whilst India’s expanding opportunities has seen an increase in the visibility of women in public spaces, such as the office and the gym, Indian men’s sense of “masculinity” still impacts parents’ preference for sons despite the many legal steps to stop gender discrimination.
JAPAN – Confident patrons of the domestic market
Despite a shrinking domestic market, the Japanese see themselves as a confident and comfortable consumer group. Whilst they speak highly of foreign design and are quick to purchase foreign products and brands they still place greater trust in locally manufactured goods. We have seen strong popularity of brand collaborations where local produce was used by foreign brands to make Japan specific variations.
Following the highly successful 1974 advertising campaign “Kentucky for Christmas”, KFC has become synonymous with Christmas in Japan. Perhaps even stranger is that the chicken specialist have also become synonyms with fish and green tea as the brand adapts to the local preferences. The baby carrier brand ‘Ergo Baby’ also realised the value in cultural adjustment when they made a sell-out product using Japanese jeans fabric for a Japan specific baby carrier, made in collaboration with Lee Jean.
INDONESIA – The emergence of middle class consumption in Asia’s next giant
As one of the MINT countries – Indonesia’s emerging market is tagged to be one of the world’s next economic giants. Popularity of products in the leisure and health product categories and overwhelmingly sense of optimistic with consumers we spoke to all supports the theory of thriving market. Travel, fruit juices, skin care and wellbeing products as well as and health insurance are booming as the growing middle class shifts towards an aspirational form of consumerism with individuals seeking to improve their lives and their social standing.
Photo credit: Bric News
Nathalie Jerming – Havill10th May 2016