Affluent Asians continue to spend: Synovate

MUMBAI: Affluent consumers across Asia Pacific continued to spend during recession, according to global market intelligence company Synovate in its recently released 2009 PAX survey findings.

Data shows a steady increase in ownership of products such as digital still cameras, laptop/ notebook computers as well as LCD/ Plasma TVs across the region. Moreover, affluent consumers who use the Internet own more products than non-users.

In its 13th year, Synovate Pax studies elite adults, tracking media and digital consumption, prosperity, and influence across 11 markets from Hong Kong, Singapore, Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Malaysia, India, Indonesia, the Philippines, Japan, to Australia. The survey is conducted year-round and Synovate spoke with 20,245 affluent consumers in Asia Pacific to get the 2009 results.

Synovate executive director of media Steve Garton says, "The Pax 2009 results show that this affluent group is more important than ever for many marketers. This is a core audience group with money on hand and is willing to spend despite the condition of the economy."

Good versus bad times : Across the region, ownership of laptop/notebook computers by elites jumped from 40.8 per cent last year (up to Q2 2008) to 48 per cent this year (up to Q2 2009). Purchase intention over the next 12 months also held at around 12 per cent.

Results also show that an increasing number of affluent PAX consumers now own a digital still camera: from 58.7 per cent last year, to 63.5 per cent owning one this year.

A new question added in Pax 2009 gauges the popularity of High Definition TVs or HDTV by asking affluent consumers their intention to purchase one over the next 12 months. Close to six per cent of elites in Singapore indicated they want to buy one. Currently 31.8 per cent of Singapore’s affluent own an HDTV.

LCD/ plasma TVs have become more prevalent across Asia Pacific, from 32.2 per cent of elites owning one last year to currently 36.5 per cent of the group. What’s more, 11.8 per cent across the region would like to buy a LCD/ plasma TV in the next 12 months. 57 per cent of Singapore elites own a LCD / plasma TV, with 9.5 per cent wanting to purchase one in the next 12 months.

Continuing to seek luxury : Singapore, Taiwan, and Hong Kong have seen more elites owning designer clothes and leather goods ($1000+ per item) over the past year.

Synovate’s research director in Hong Kong Clare Lui says, "It is obvious that affluent consumers do not want to give up their quality of life. The top places with the highest increase of designer clothes and leather goods ownership can be seen in Singapore, from 4.8 per cent of ownership last year to 11.3% this year, followed by Taipei, from eigfht per cent to 9.6 per cent, then Hong Kong, from 15.8 per cent to 17 per cent".

In terms of the market that shows the most intention to purchase luxury goods ($1000+ per item) in the next 12 months, elites in Manila top the charts - such as for designer clothes and leather goods (8.7 per cent Manila elites vs. regional average of 3.3 per cent), designer footwear (7.1 per cent versus regional average of 2.3 per cent), jewellery (10.5 per cent versus average 5.2 per cent), and luxury watches (8.6 per cent versus average 4.2 per cent)

Ownership of private cars held steady at around 73 per cent across the region. Singapore showed the highest jump, from 60.8 per cent last year to 67.1 per cent this year.

Smartphones on the rise : 63 per cent of those surveyed in PAX 2009 own a mobile phone with Internet access and camera functions while 10.4 per cent have a hybrid/ PDA phone. The figures were up from last year’s 59.7 per cent for mobile phones with Internet access and camera functions, and 8 per cent for hybrid mobiles.

What about purchase intentions over the next 12 months for mobile phones with Internet access and camera functions? Taipei sees the most increase from 9.4 per cent of elites who wanted to buy one last year, to 14.2 per cent this year. In Singapore, 6.9 per cent indicated intention to purchase in Q2 2008, to 9.6 per cent in Q2 2009.

Top markets with an intention to purchase a hybrid/ PDA phone in the future are Taiwan (9.6 per cent of elites like one), Kuala Lumpur (8.7 per cent), Bangkok (8.4 per cent), Manila (8.1 per cent), and Hong Kong (six per cent).

Pax Digital Life, which studies affluent consumers’ digital habits, revealed that when smart mobile device owners go online, 73.6 per cent of the time is through PC or laptop access, while the rest of the time (26.4 per cent) is through mobile and smartphone access.

Across the region, smartphones are mostly used on weekends when elites are out of office or at home. Eighteen per cent of the time using Smartphones is during work, 27 per cent is at home, and 55 per cent is at other places.

Internet users own more products : Across the region, it is found that elites who use the Internet own more products. For example, 22 per cent more Internet savvy elites go on one or more leisure trips compared to non Internet using elites (36 per cent versus 14 per cent); 10 per cent more have a luxury watch (22 per cent vs. 12 per cent); 30 per cent more own a digital still camera (70 per cent versus 40 per cent); and 22 per cent more have a LCD/ plasma TV (41 per cent versus 19 per cent).

Traditional media to mainstream media : Marketers have to start thinking about mainstream media.

"Television, as we have said last year, has already escaped the box and the living room. Pax 2009 findings show that seven per cent of elites have watched a TV programme via mobile in the past 30 days," says Gartion.

As for print, people are still consuming it, but in different ways. "37 per cent of time spent reading publications is done online in a typical week," adds Gartion.

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