SINGAPORE: Luxury sales remain strong across most markets in Asia Pacific, despite the challenges posed by the financial crisis.

Research firm Synovate surveyed wealthy consumers within the top 20% of income earners in 11 countries, including Australia, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Singapore and Taiwan.

High-tech gadgets proved particularly popular, as HDTV ownership levels rose from 19.5% to 28% in 2009, figures reaching 48% and 51.8% for laptop/notebook computers.

According to Synovate's analysis, the last 12 months could be called the "year of the smartphone", given uptake surged 5.4%, hitting 15.8%.

"Last year was a tough year in terms of the economy, yet still people spent on goods of desire," Steve Garton, executive director of media, at Synovate.

"This year we have a much healthier economy and elite consumers are maintaining their spending."

In Taiwan, penetration of devices like the iPhone and BlackBerry leapt 12.2%, to 27.7%, while Singapore delivered an 8.4% increase, posting 23.1% overall.

Totals also doubled in Hong Kong to 22.4%, and Garton suggested this boom partly reflects a "desire to have function-packed, elegant items."

However, 58.3% of the most senior executives, and 46.7% of the entire panel, view these appliances as essential to their success.

Singapore is a leading Asian outlet for tech, with seven in ten local respondents having purchased a laptop or notebook, two-thirds possessing a digital still camera and 40.3% watching an HDTV set.

Elsewhere, Hong Kong is a prime luxury market more broadly, with 50.7% of participants owning at least one item fitting this description, up from 47.5% in 2009.

A further 81.1% of this group in Hong Kong believe companies should focus on corporate social responsibility, measured against 75.7% last year.

"Affluent people are continuously seeking out new products and the latest items and are very much the early adopters of high ticket items," Garton added.

"They are the backbone spenders in many such product categories across the region," he said.

Engaging this demographic typically requires a mixture of regional media, like cable and satellite TV, print and the web.

"A combination of these media is probably the most effective way to tap into the sophisticated, internationally-minded affluent Asian," Garton said.

Indeed, Synovate reported members of APAC's wealthy audience are devoting greater time to broadcast content, reading newspapers and magazines, and surfing the net.

There was a correlation between shoppers buying more premium goods and those consuming regional channels, meaning these mediums must form part of media plans.

Data sourced from Synovate; additional content by Warc staff