Consumers plan to cut back in Asia Pacific

30 July 2010

SINGAPORE: A majority of consumers in Asia Pacific are planning to increase the amount they save in the next six months, as continuing economic uncertainty causes shoppers to postpone big-ticket purchases.

MasterCard, the financial services provider, polled 10,920 people in 24 emerging markets, including Australia, China, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

Across Asia Pacific, 46% of the panel hoped to reduce discretionary expenditure in favour of saving, reaching a peak of 74% in the Philippines and 52% in both Australia and Thailand.

Totals slipped to 19% in Indonesia on this measure, with Taiwan on 20%, India on 24% and Japan on 28%.

By age group, 59% 18-29 year olds in APAC were seeking to conserve a greater share of their income, falling to 45% for 30-44 year olds, 36% for 45-54 year olds and 30% for older customers.

Elsewhere, 55% of single respondents wanted to store more money away going forward, a proportion that fell to 40% for married couples.

"Young and single consumers … tend to save more today in order to purchase larger ticket items in the future," said Dr Yuwa Hedrick-Wong, an economic advisor at MasterCard Worldwide Asia Pacific.

Among the members of the sample becoming increasingly conservative in their spending habits, 76% were concerned about insulating themselves against the unpredictable fiscal climate.

Within this, 96% of Indians demonstrated growing anxiety relating to the possibility of experiencing further such difficulties, a perception that dropped to 40% in New Zealand.

Across the region as a whole, only 3% of contributors expected to have none of their salary left over.

But 29% said they were keen to retain at least 10% and 25% intended to save between 11% and 20% a month.

There was a notable gender gap in the various countries assessed, with 51% of female participants planning to trim household budgets in Indonesia, compared with 42% of men.

By contrast, 78% of males in the Philippines displayed a preference for carefully stewarding resources, declining to 69% for women.

Although a relatively modest 43% of men and 42% of women in China were due to follow the same course, these figures were much higher than the 15% and 7% recorded in January 2010.

"The first type of savings are in order to boost one's future spending power for larger ticket items," said Hendrick-Wong. "On the other hand, precautionary savings represent a net subtraction from total spending."

"Our latest survey highlights a situation of continuing high precautionary saving in Asia Pacific, which means, everything else being equal, a lower proportion of disposable income is being spent."

Consumer electronics is one category that may see a surge in demand, with 33% of Indians, 29% of their peers in Japan and 20% in China enthusiastic about making acquisitions in this sector.

In Vietnam, 39% of individuals polled expressed a similar desire, and 25% would like to obtain white goods.

Over 35% of Australians were cutting back in some areas in a bid to save for travelling abroad, as were 29% of people in Japan.

Data sourced from Moodie Report; additional content by Warc staff