SINGAPORE: Across Asia Pacific, consumers are concerned about both their personal finances and the wider economy, with a third saying they worry about having enough money to pay the bills, according to a new survey.

GfK, the research company, polled over 40,000 consumers aged over 15 across 28 countries, including 11 from Asia Pacific – Australia, China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam. Approximately 1,500 respondents per market were surveyed on their attitudes, behaviours and values across a range of topics.

The study found that 40% of respondents were apprehensive about macro-economic problems, including recession, unemployment, inflation and high prices. And a third were anxious about having enough money to live right and pay the bills.

Inflation was a particular concern in Singapore (65%), Thailand (55%) and China (51%), while recession and unemployment most exercised respondents in Taiwan (57%) and Korea (51%). 

"Economic conditions have in most cases stabilized, but there is a significant level of uneasiness around various areas," said Jodie Roberts, Regional Director for GfK Consumer Trends.

As a result, spending habits have changed as consumers seek to reduce their costs. The restaurant sector has been a leading casualty of this development, with 34% of respondents saying they have stopped dining out during the past 12 months.

Apparel has also been hit, with 23% buying fewer clothes and shoes.

GfK established that consumers in some countries were more likely to consciously implement saving strategies.

Australians, for example, were more inclined to shop more carefully for daily necessities (63%) and postpone purchases until the product was on sale/special offer (63%). Coupons were more likely to be used by Koreans (73%) and the Taiwanese (67%).

"In markets like Australia where there has been some economic uncertainty – and particularly where cost of living is so high – consumers have become a lot more cautious about how they spend their money," said Roberts.

She expected such behaviours to remain even when the economic environment improved, but she struck an optimistic note. "Companies which are able to deliver on value – which is not necessarily about lowest price – will benefit from this consumer trend," Roberts concluded.

Data sourced from GfK; additional content by Warc staff