SINGAPORE: Consumers in most Southeast Asian markets remain bullish about their economic prospects and spending plans, although Singaporeans and Malaysians are the exceptions to this trend, a new report has revealed.

That is according to the regional findings contained within Nielsen's latest Global Survey of Consumer Confidence and Spending Intentions, which is based on responses from 30,000 consumers in 61 countries.

The Southeast Asia segment of the research firm's study showed that overall confidence in the region increased five points in 2016 to reach 115 on the Nielsen index in the final quarter of the year.

Using a baseline of 100 to indicate rates of optimism and pessimism, Nielsen's confidence indicators include immediate spending intention, confidence about local job prospects as well as sentiment about personal finances.

Based on these measures, consumers in the Philippines registered the biggest increase in confidence in 2016. As reported by Campaign Asia, the confidence index in the Philippines rose from 119 in Q1 2016 to 132 by the end of the year.

Thailand recorded the second-highest increase where consumer confidence rose from 105 to 110 over the same period, followed by Vietnam, which saw a three-point increase to 112.

Consumer confidence in Indonesia also rose three-points from 117 to 120, although its Q4 index was two points down from the previous quarter. Meanwhile, Singapore (86) and Malaysia (84) were the only countries to register negative sentiment in Q4 2016.

Stuart Jamieson, Nielsen's Managing Director for the Philippines, told Campaign Asia that the country's strong performance in all three indicators can be explained by its economy's reliance on consumption rather than government spending.

"The continued bullishness of consumers is good news for retailers and consumer-packaged-goods manufacturers because consumers are more willing to spend – and that means half of the battle is won," he said.

However, Jamieson also cautioned brands that optimistic consumers can also be challenging because they're more willing to experiment with other products.

"Now that they are optimistic and have the willingness to spend, they are more open to experimenting or trying new products or aspirational products," he said. "That would mean that they would start looking or trying new brands or upgrading the lifestyle."

Data sourced from Campaign Asia, Nielsen; additional data by Warc staff