Buoyant year ahead for luxury items and technology - Synovate Pax findings

MUMBAI: Despite all economic setbacks, Asia's elites show a mindset that they won't let anything stand in the way of their drive for acquisition. The continuing increase in the purchase of high-end products amongst elite consumers was a trend that was studied by .Synovate, a global market research company who track media, prosperity and influence across Asia Pacific. The study is titled Synovate PAX.

Synovate's Media Director, Asia Pacific Steve Garton said that the survey covered the movers and shakers of Asia - the top 20 per cent of society.



"The results to mid 2004 show that nothing holds back the elites of Asia for long. Last year's economic set back, triggered by SARS, is simply history. Incomes continue to grow and the business decision makers are working hard to make up for lost time - and succeeding. The resourcefulness, flexibility and resilience of Asia's elites shows a mindset that they won't let anything stand in the way of their drive for progress. And on the personal front, the results show increased confidence - indicating a buoyant year ahead for high ticket luxury items and technology," Garton said.

The survey covered eleven countries across Asia including Hong Kong, Singapore, Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand, Indonesia, India and Australia for a cross media survey (Synovate PAX) for Q3 2003 to Q2 2004. More than 250,000 interviews were conducted across the region.

As part of the survey, ownership and buying intentions for a range of products were continually tracked across the markets. In addition, attitudes towards media and brands and lifestyle information were also included giving media organisations and agencies even greater insight into what's driving affluent Asians at any particular time.



PAX respondents were asked about their attitudes to a range of statements, which were designed to pick up attitudes and beliefs about purchasing, advertising, brands and products.

Garton said that the Top Management segment typically were rated higher than average across most of the statements which indicated that their leadership role at work and in society.

Key psychographics findings of the PAX survey dealing with media and brands were as follows:

    Males seem to be the first movers to buy new products/gadgets. Also, the top management were ahead of the 10 country average by a significant margin due to their higher income and therefore their ability to be acquisitive.

    Paying extra premium cost for quality products was looked at by half to three-quarters across all markets as worthwhile.

    North Asian elites displayed the highest levels of trust in products that were advertised. In Seoul, 40 per cent show this attitude followed by Taipei at 37 per cent.

    Interestingly, the South displayed affinity towards branded products. Sydney and Jakarta registered the highest agreement levels at 56 per cent. Following close were Bangkok and India, at one in two preferring well known labels.

    International perspective was high across all markets, notably so in Jakarta (85 per cent). Also, two in three (66 per cent) of the region's top management shared this view.

    Jakarta scored the highest with 70 per cent priding themselves on being well informed. Also,men were substantially ahead of women or at least that's what they claimed. 53 per cent of men across the region agreed with this statement as compared to 43 per cent of women.

    Two third's of the top management preferred being a leader of the group.

    Technology savvy being key to one's success was most expressed by Jakarta with 68 per cent voicing technology updation goes hand in hand with success. On the other hand Seoul and Sydney came across as the lowest scoring markets, each at 34 per cent. This could be attributed to the two being the more advanced cities in the region who may already feel they are top of the game. On a broader level men were seen to have greater interest than women in technology, with 52 percent men agreeing versus 42 per cent of female respondents.

    Modern appliances at home seem to be more of a fancy of men with 37 per cent and women appeared a bit less gadget-conscious with 33 per cent . Also, almost half of the PAX eligibles in Kuala Lumpur liked to stock up on the latest items.

    Foriegn brands stand for better quality was the take of every1 in 4 respondents. The highest score was in Kuala Lumpur (34 per cent) and the lowest in Sydney (14 per cent), indicating that Sydney-siders may be more trusting of homegrown brands.

    Shopping as an enjoyable activity was sworn by half of the women and a third of men. Nearly two thirds of PAX eligibles in India and Jakarta got their kicks from shopping, possibly related to new-found wealth, but just 24 per cent of Seoul's upper class subscribed to this view.

    People in India, Kuala Lumpur and top management across the region were the ones who preferred buying designer goods/brands at 44 per cent, 29 per cent and 26 per cent respectively.

    Well over half of the moneyed elites agreed that advertising helped them and in every country the scores were 50 per cent or more about advertising being a good means to learn about new products. Jakarta's elites seemed the most influenced by advertising with 68 per cent agreeing with the statement.

    Being abreast with technology was seen by over half as important across the 10 markets, with the highest score in Jakarta (73 per cent).

    Residents of Bangkok, Singapore and Sydney admitted to being the most indulgent, at least on occasions, scoring around 56 per cent. People in Taipei were least likely to treat themselves.

    Close to half of PAX eligibles agreed that they would buy a new product if it made their lives more enjoyable with Jakarta heading the list of hedonists.

    The marketers of Taipei and Seoul need to put the most work into convincing these early product adopters to experiment with brands (16 per cent and 26 per cent agreed), whilst those in Sydney appeared to be the most easily tempted (63 per cent) - or less loyal, depending on how one looks at it.



How Asia's elite relax and play

The survey concluded that soccer was the passion for one in three in the region and was more than twice as popular as compared to the next range of sports such as cricket, tennis and basketball. Also, close to half of the PAX elites in Kuala Lumpur, Jakarta and Bangkok followed the soccer in the media or attended matches. Percieved mainly as a man's sport, almost double the number of males being interested in the game than women.

Three countries stood out as being less connected with soccer. The wealthy in Manila prefer basketball (57 per cent), whilst in India it was cricket - probably better described as a national obsession - at two thirds of all those with high incomes. In Taipei, only baseball managed to attract the attention of a quarter of the audience. Instead, rich Taipei residents turned to cinema and art galleries (at 36 per cent and 26 per cent respectively going in the last 6 months).

Top management was the group with the highest score for golf, in terms of interest (21 per cent), playing the sport (15 per cent) - as well as golf club membership (13 per cent). Sydney was the top city for the performing arts and movie going: three quarters of this city's better off residents went to the movies in the past 6 months. This compares to 36 per cent in Taipei and Jakarta.

Also, the highest spenders on quality wine on an average month were Sydney and Hong Kong, laying out around US$250 monthly. Hong Kong residents on the other hand spent the most monthly on cosmetic/fragrance/perfume/after shave/cologne, at US$101.

Monthly billing on charge and credit cards and supplementary cards was highest in Sydney, at US$1,506 - equaling Top Management across the region. There is early evidence that spending is up versus the results to Q1 2004

Purchase intention of Asia's movers and shakers in the next 12 months

The results on the whole show an increasing confidence in purchase intentions across luxury items and technology, indicating a buoyant year ahead for these items.

The highlights of the results to Q2 2004 are:

    An overall 20 per cent of respondents said they intend to buy a new car

    13 per cent intend to buy a new mobile phone;

    10 per cent intend to buy quality designer goods, and fashion accessories, although it's the women who are driving this at 12 per cent versus 9 per cent for males

    9 per cent intend to buy flat screen TVs, and 9 per cent intend to purchase a LCD/ Plasma TV.

The Synovate PAX survey tracks media, prosperity and influence in eleven markets across the Asia Pacific region - Singapore, Hong Kong, Korea, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Philippines, Taiwan, India, Australia and Japan.

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