"Home-centric consumption" to continue post-lockdowns: report

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JUNE 09, 2020 - 8:22 PM

HOME-CENTRIC consumption trends in South-east Asia accelerated by Covid-19 pandemic could continue even as authorities relax safe-distancing measures, a report has suggested.

"While the region experienced varying levels of easing physical distancing measures over the past few months, it has also witnessed a significant shift and accelerated growth in the digital and ecommerce space," said the report by Bain & Company and Facebook.

It noted that South-east Asia remains one of the most vibrant regions in the world, where internet users and digital consumers continue to increase simultaneously. This creates an environment in which traditional businesses, disruptive business models and large marketplaces can all thrive.

Praneeth Yendamuri, Bain & Company partner and co-author of the report, said that while the environment has been challenging and companies and consumers have been severely disrupted by the pandemic, some of the "digital leapfrogs" could lead to opportunities for businesses.

The report also identified six emerging consumption themes for digital consumers that have either accelerated or reversed this year.

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The first is that "at home" and "contactless" consumption habits are likely to stay, it said, noting that over 70 percent of respondents in its study across the region are now preparing food at home more often, while at least 65 percent are watching more on-demand and broadcast TV.

The discovery of new apps is accelerating as consumers are turning to digital devices to keep themselves entertained while indoors. Across the region, 85 percent of respondents said they have tried new apps, the report said. Social media, video streaming, as well as messaging, experienced the largest increase in usage, whilst ecommerce and food delivery are experiencing spikes in first-time adoption.

Demand for essential items, both online and offline, have also gone up, with at least 44 percent of consumers across Southeast Asia spending more on packaged and fresh groceries online.

However, "value for money" is a key consideration, with 57 per cent citing "value" as one of their top three purchasing considerations.

Consumers also appear fairly evenly split between wanting to try new brands and prioritising buying more from brands they trust, with 40 per cent saying they would do the former, and 42 per cent, the latter.

The pandemic has also brought an increase in focus to the health, safety and environmental impact of a product. Some 73 per cent said they are more likely to be more health conscious going forward, and more than half are increasingly environmentally conscious.

The combined research analysis is based on available YouGov survey data on digital consumer trends for April 2020 across Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam, and interviews with close to 20 C-suite executives and venture capitalists in the region.

Dhruv Vohra, industry director in digital natives and technology at Facebook, said while this transition to "home-centric consumption" will be challenging for businesses, those that are able to adjust their strategies to meet new consumer trends would be in a better position to weather the difficult times.