SINGAPORE: Four distinct Asian consumer profiles have been identified in a new study that found a strong emphasis on the family, traditional values and hard work, despite considerable geographic and religious diversity across the region.

The Pan-Asian Wave Consumer Study: Asian Marketing Trends and Consumer Insights report was conducted by the Institute on Asian Consumer Insight (ACI), a joint venture between the Nanyang Technological University and the Economic Development Board.

Covering 7,000 consumers from ten key economies in the region, the survey found strong adherence to traditional values, leading the ACI to advise companies to appeal to these values when building their brands.

Professor Bernd Schmitt, executive director of ACI, advised multinationals that to build a strong brand in Asia they need to offer "more than just functional superiority".

He said: "The brands that understand, leverage and fulfil the emotional and expressive needs of the pan-Asian consumer are those that will succeed in the Asian marketplace."

Four main consumer segments were identified as "Inner-Directed Traditionalists", who value religion and tradition; "Outer-Directed Strivers", who tend to have lower education and incomes, but who value work success; "Survivor Oriented", who tend to be older and less financially optimistic; and "Mainstream Asian Values", who make up 39% of the Asian population.

The first group make up more than half the consumers in Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines, where religious values are highly regarded.

Outer-Directed Strivers make up 59% of India's consumers and 25% of those in China while Survivor-Oriented consumers mostly come from Japan and South Korea, reflecting their older populations.

Among other findings, interest in foreign cultures and brands is highest in China, Hong Kong and India and lowest in Indonesia, Japan and Malaysia.

There is a greater emphasis on fun and leisure time in Japan, China and South Korea than in India, Malaysia and Thailand while consumers in China, India, Thailand and the Philippines express greater willingness to buy quality brands than their counterparts in Indonesia, Japan and South Korea.

Younger consumers have similar views to those aged over 45 about the benefits of education, hard work and the avoidance of debt, but they express less emphasis on duty, religion and tradition.

In a surprise finding, younger consumers appear not too concerned about the environment or societal issues, but place greater value on work success and recognition.

Data sourced from Nanyang Technological University; additional content by Warc staff