SINGAPORE: A loss of good health is the top concern for emerging middle class consumers in India, Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam, while almost one-third (30.6%) say they would be unable to live without a mobile phone, a new survey has revealed.

The Asia Emerging Middle Class Survey from the Eden Strategy Institute, the social innovation centre based in Singapore, also found that consumers from all the countries surveyed would save the extra money if their income was doubled.

The study suggested the group also valued friendships more than their homes and their top three ambitions in life evenly split (at 12% each) between getting rich, having a healthier life and becoming "close to God".

Identifying the Emerging Middle Class (EMC) as people who earned or spent $2 to $20 per day, the mobile survey of 4,000 respondents across the region also clearly established Filipinos as those most dependent on modern technology, Marketing Interactive reported.

A full 58% of the EMC in the Philippines said they "could not do without" their mobile phone for the rest of their lives – an opinion shared by 32% of Indians, 18% of Vietnamese and 13% of Indonesians – while a further 47% said they could not live without internet access.

Also ranking high for Filipino EMC consumers was shampoo and soap (38%) as well as cars and motorcycles (24%), although this final category shared a similar proportion of responses in the other countries surveyed.

EMC consumers across the region were most afraid to lose their health with Vietnam topping the list at 40% followed by the Philippines at 38%, Indonesia at 37% with India much lower down at 21%.

The report advised healthcare providers, insurance companies and others working in the medical-technical sector that they stood to gain from exploring opportunities to extend services to the region's EMC consumers.

"The [EMC] represents an untapped market of over half a billion consumers," said Calvin Chu Yee Ming, a partner at Eden Strategy Institute.

"Unlike the traditional middle-class, EMC consumers may have irregular income flows, and are highly discerning about longer-term value of their purchases," he added.

"Multinationals need to take a collaborative approach to innovate around their unique contexts, needs and desires in order to successfully bring relevant products that help these consumers escape from the poverty cycle."

Data sourced from Eden Strategy Institute, Marketing Interactive; additional content by Warc staff