Consumer confidence levels mixed in Asia

28 October 2009

SINGAPORE: Consumer confidence levels in Asia are fluctuating at present, with knock-on implications for future purchase behaviour in the region, a survey undertaken across five different markets by Insight Asia, the research firm, has found.

The Asian Consumer Confidence Index was based on a poll of 2,300 people in urban areas of China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand in September this year.

It found that respondents in China were the most optimistic in Q3 2009, with an index score of 111 points, although this figure was down by 12 points compared with the second quarter of the year.

The decision by the country's government to rein in its economic stimulus activity was one of the main contributors to this trend, but "overall feeling among Chinese consumers is still positive," Insight Asia said.

By contrast, popular perceptions rose by 22 points in Singapore, to 110 points, 10% above the "neutral" score of 100 which indicates that participants believe the situation is largely unchanged.

Indonesia delivered an improvement of eight points, to 105 points, while Thailand was up by ten points, although its overall reading of 88 points means it was the most pessimistic nation of the five assessed.

Malaysia has also "stagnated" after a period of growth, improving by just two points quarter-on-quarter, to 96 points in all.

With regard to the current financial climate, contributors in China and Singapore regarded conditions as being essentially the same as was the case 12 months ago.

Sentiment in Indonesia was also reasonably resilient, at 94 points, but the Malaysian panel returned an average of 80 points, with Thailand on 67, indicating that conditions have depreciated in both of these areas.

Looking forward, the sample in Indonesia and Thailand were particularly positive with regard to national economic prospects over the next year, while their counterparts in China are less optimistic than in Q2 2009.

In assessing their own financial wellbeing, adults in Singapore gave their current situation an index score of 120 points, a "sharp improvement from the second quarter."

While Chinese consumers were still upbeat, on 107 points, this mark was down on Q2, with Indonesian opinion improving slightly, to 89 points, while Thailand and Malaysia were static, at 100 points and 93 points respectively.

In terms of purchase behaviour, "China is still the only country were consumers overall believe that this is a good time to buy major household items, despite a slight decrease," the report said. 

Shoppers in Singapore are "somewhat negative," while their peers in Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand were defined as being "very negative."

Data sourced from Insight Asia; additional content by Warc staff