Top consumer trends in Asia’s emerging markets

Emerging Asia’s new urban consumers are quickly and enthusiastically adopting global retail trends. New research shows populations in Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Cambodia and Laos are experiencing fast-growing middle classes, rapid urbanisation and an increased influence of social media.

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Despite the limitations of local infrastructure and large rural populations these five countries have high potential for retail sector growth. Several established modern retail chains and e-commerce platforms are already investing in the region.   

“The retail environment in these emerging countries is highly dynamic.”

Expanding into these markets may be challenging but the quickly growing urban middle class and rapid growth in the disposable income of the population will ensure success first movers win out in the longer term.

Below we present the biggest retail trends in the regions for 2018.

Ten consumer trends in Asia’s emerging markets

• Modern retailing is making inroads

The retail environment in these emerging countries is highly dynamic. Double-digit growth in retail value terms has been observed over the last five years, bolstered by strong economies, young populations, rising levels of disposable income and infrastructure improvements.

• Online retailing is growing - slowly

Businesses are using tactics such as free delivery, delivery at odd-hours including weekends and public holidays and collaborations with global payment processers to encourage more online shopping.

Urbanisation is changing the food and drink sector

Instant noodles are gaining popularity in Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Myanmar, while processed meat and seafood sales are rising in Cambodia thanks to their quick and mess-free preparation.

The youth segment in these countries is commonly characterised by a willingness to try new things, making it the main target market for many non-alcoholic drinks companies.

Historically, it was not socially acceptable for women to drink alcohol or for women to work in bars or other on-trade establishments. However, in Cambodia, Myanmar and Sri Lanka, young and middle to upper-income women in major cities are increasingly purchasing alcoholic drinks

Beauty and personal care consumers remain conservative

Despite the quick economic growth and the increasing popularity of the internet, the traditional mindset of many consumers remains a barrier for modern beauty brands.

The public healthcare systems shapes consumer health

Self-medication is widely practiced by the general population in all of the five spotlight Asian markets. Up to 30 per cent of treatments provided in government healthcare facilities in Bangladesh were through alternative medicine.

Home care market remains in its infancy

Tradition, conservative views towards the so-called ‘foreign’ products, as well as limited distribution and high unit prices are among the factors keeping home-care market growth slow. Across all five markets possession rates for washing machines are very low and dishwashers are almost entirely absent.

Tissue and hygiene products not widely used

The market is equally underdeveloped when it comes to tissue products. Facial wipes are used more widely, but the usage of products such as nappies, sanitary protection and toilet paper are often stigmatised.

Ivan Uzunov is a research manager at Euromonitor International.

A copy of the report ‘Industry Impact of Consumer Trends in Emerging Asian Markets’ can be downloaded HERE

The views and opinions expressed in this communication are those of the author and may not necessarily state or reflect those of ANZ.

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