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[New Research] Online Shopping in Southeast Asia: GenZs vs. Millennials

Updated: Mar 30, 2020

Marketers in Southeast Asia (SEA) have access to an abundance of statistics which describe the size of their target markets. For example, Google, Temasek and Bain report that ecommerce market will grow from $100 billion in 2020 to $300 billion by 2025. While interesting, these figures do not necessarily help marketers decide how to grow their brands in the region. Instead, they need to understand the regional consumer attitudes and behaviours which are driving this growth. For example, how do SEA consumers research products online? Which categories are they buying from the most? And from which online shopping sites? To answer these questions and many more, ClickInsights, in collaboration with Adobe, recently surveyed hundreds of consumers throughout SEA to find out how they shop online, what products do they buy the most via ecommerce and what concerns about online shopping still remain. To provide additional insights, we presented the survey results in two ways. First, we separated survey responses for those aged 16 to 22 (Generation Z or GenZs) from those aged 23 to 37 (Millennials). Then, when we noticed regional differences , we reported responses by country as well. Below are summaries of several key insights from the report but for much more about the SEA online shopper please down the full report here: Southeast Asia Online Shopping in 2020: GenZs vs. Millennials

1) SEA Millennials are more likely to shop online every week than GenZs

When asked about how often they shop online, more than one in three (34%) SEA Millennials responded 'every week', whereas only 16% of GenZs said the same.

The reason for this difference is almost certainly due to the difference in disposable income as Millennials were more likely to have spent the equivalent of US$100 in 2019 for every major consumer goods category.

2) SEA Millennials prefer Facebook, GenZs Instagram

While Facebook has faced issues with audiences elsewhere, it remains the most popular social network with Millennials in SEA. Nearly two in three (63%) SEA Millennials are on Facebook for 30 minutes every day. GeNZs, however, prefer Instagram. More than half (56%) of GenZs spend more than 30 minutes per day on the platform compared to 51% who spend a similar amount of time on Facebook. Both Facebook and Instagram remain popular with both generations throughout the region and so brands seeking to reach these audiences are advised to continue to prioritise them for their advertising and social media engagement.

3) TikTok remains a niche social network in SEA

TikTok, the short-form video sharing platform, experienced a high level of growth globally in 2019 and marketers were encouraged to test out its advertising capabilities. Whether it is effective as a marketing platform is not yet clear, but our survey revealed that few people from SEA spend much time on the platform daily.

Only 18% of GenZs spend more than 30 minutes per day on the platform and fewer (14%) Millennials do the same - and so it seems that TikTok may not yet be the ideal platform for reaching these demographics.

4) Influencers are surprisingly popular with SEA online shoppers

Influencers, or social media celebrities with sizeable followings, are hard to ignore these days. They are highly visible on just about every social media platform and many are hired by companies to promote their products more authentically than advertising. So, influencers are a popular channel for brands in SEA, but what do consumers think? Are they actually helpful?

Surprisingly, yes. More than half of Millennial and GenZ respondents indicated that influencers were helpful in one or more categories.

GenZs were most likely to find influencers helpful for clothing (60% of respondents) whereas Millennials found them equally as helpful for beauty products and travel destinations (54%).

5) Fake goods remain a big concern for SEA online shoppers

Respondents were asked to list their concerns when shopping online. While product quality was the most popular answer (74% GenZs, 70% Millennials), fake products was a close second (67% GenZs, 62% Millennials). The concern about receiving fake goods from online merchants was much greater in some SEA countries than others. In the Philippines, more than 3 in 4 respondents said that they were concerned with fakes whereas less than half in Thailand felt the same.

Brand marketers, therefore, need to be sensitive to these concerns on a country level when selling via marketplaces and remind consumers that goods purchased from the official company site will always be the genuine article.

6) SEA consumers will shop more online in 2020 than they did in 2019

Finally, we asked respondents to compare how much they spent online last year with how much they think they spend on ecommerce this year.

Across both generations and each country in the region, consumers indicated that they will spend more in 2020 than they did in 2019. For GenZs, nearly two in three (63%) agreed that they would and three in four Millennials (75%) said the same. Whether this increase in online shopping will grow the ecommerce sector in SEA to $300 billion by 2025 is not yet clear. Tripling the size of the region's online shopping market in 5 years is a rather aggressive projection. What we can say for sure, though, is that consumers in SEA across both of the younger generations are already keen and savvy online shoppers - and so the indicators of ecommerce growth in the region are pointing in the right direction. For more on this topic, please download Southeast Asia Online Shopping in 2020: GenZs vs. Millennials


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