Asia switches to modern retail channels

23 September 2010

NEW YORK: There has been a "dramatic change" in the way Asia-Pacific consumers shop over the past decade, with self-service channels supplanting traditional wet markets and counter service.

A new study from Nielsen shows that modern outlets, such as hypermarkets and convenience stores, now account for 53% of all grocery sales across the region, up from 35% ten years ago.

The single largest change has occurred in China, with the proportion of sales made through modern channels rising from 34% to 64% during the decade.

Meanwhile, men are becoming more active grocery shoppers as traditional gender roles become less engrained in society.

Around 22% of "main" household grocery shoppers are now male, up from 14% in 2000.

"Strong economic growth, more affluent populations and changing societies have transformed the way consumers throughout the region shop for their groceries and other goods," the report added.

"The expansion of hypermarkets has been a boon for many shoppers, especially those in urban areas ... Any visitor to Asia will notice the surge of small format stores, both convenience stores and mini-marts, with some intersections boasting two or more such stores on the corner."

But Nielsen also suggested that growth of hypermarkets would stall over the next few years, with smaller formats offering "top-up" shopping gaining more widespread popularity instead.

Increased online penetration will also see e-retail gaining traction.

Some Asian nations are already enjoying a more advanced internet infrastructure than that of many western nations.

In South Korea, where an extensive fibre-optic network affords some of the quickest connection speeds in the world, 71% of consumers say they regularly go online to buy groceries and other personal care goods.

Data sourced from Nielsen; additional content by Warc staff