Asia Pacific Consumers Still the World’s Most Optimistic

  • Asia Pacific nations make up six of the ten most confident countries globally
  • Majority of Asia Pacific countries posted a Consumer Confidence Index score at or above the 100 benchmark

Consumer confidence levels in Asia Pacific were unchanged in Q3 2012 versus the prior quarter, and up three index points compared to Q3 2011, according to the latest Consumer Confidence Index from Nielsen, a leading global provider of information and insights into what consumers watch and buy.

The Q3 2012 Nielsen study, conducted between 10 August and 7 September 2012, shows eight of the 14 Asia Pacific countries recorded a quarter-on-quarter increase in consumer confidence and posted an index score at or above the 100 benchmark. Six out of the top ten most confident countries globally hail from Asia Pacific in Q3 2012, making Asia Pacific the most confident region globally.

Chart 1 - Global Consumer Confidence Index

The Philippines and Indonesia recorded the highest year-on-year gains (up six and five points respectively in Q3 2012 compared to Q3 2011) and ranked in the top three most optimistic countries globally alongside India.

Chart 2 - Asia Pacific Consumer Confidence Index

How consumers in Asia Pacific are directing their spare cash

“The variation in third quarter results in the region reflects the dynamic environment that businesses in Asia Pacific are facing,” notes Therese Glennon, APMEA Consumer Insights & Innovation Leader. “We saw key global economic indicators deteriorate in the last quarter, and coupled with the ongoing Euro crisis, results in pressure in markets like Japan, Korea, Hong Kong and Taiwan, which are also increasingly dependent on global market conditions. Companies operating in this region can find ripe growth opportunities by engaging the emerging middle class consumers beyond mainland China and India, and into Indonesia, Philippines, and Thailand. It’s also imperative to gain understanding of how to compete effectively with local manufacturers in these markets and know when, where and how to pull the right levers to capture consumer spend.”

Saving intentions remained a priority among Asia Pacific respondents; nearly two thirds (64%) were directing their spare cash to savings, up four percentage points compared to Q2 2012, while three in 10 used their spare cash to invest in stocks and mutual funds and 14 percent funneled their excess cash into retirement funds, an increase from 11 percent in Q2 2012. (See chart 2.)

Close to three quarters of Asia Pacific respondents (72%) indicated they had adjusted their spending habits in the past year in an effort to save on household expenditure, up from 67 percent in Q2 2012. A cut back in spending was reported across discretionary and non- discretionary expenses as many respondents said they now spend less on new clothes (50%) and out-of-home entertainment (43%). Forty-three percent looked to save on gas and electricity and nearly three in ten (29%) switched to cheaper grocery brands.

Chart 3 - How consumers in Asia Pacific are saving on household expenses