It is expected there will be 310 million digital consumers in Southeast Asia by 2025, with each of them spending an average of US$390, according to a new study from Facebook and Bain & Company, the global management consultancy.

Entitled Riding the Digital Wave: Southeast Asia’s Discovery Generation, the report is based on a survey of 12,965 respondents across Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam, as well as interviews with more than 30 CEOs and venture capitalists in the region.

And it confirms just how rapidly online shopping is expanding, considering there were just 90 million digital consumers in Southeast Asia in 2015 and 250 million in 2018.

With consumers spending on average US$125 on digital purchases in 2018, it means that average spend is projected to more than triple within just six years and to outpace the growth of digital consumers by a factor of three.

Beyond these headline findings – and importantly for marketers and retailers – the study also reveals that two-thirds (67%) of consumers in the region say they do not know exactly what they want to buy before they shop online, while more than half say they learn about new products and brands via social platforms.

According to Sandhya Devanathan, country managing director at Facebook Singapore, three-quarters (75%) of respondents in Singapore alone say they are open to other brands or will buy from multiple brands when shopping online.

“There is no longer just one way to shop and nobody shops the same way twice,” she said. “The key takeaway is that designing for discovery is absolutely crucial, given that customers engage with a business through multiple channels at the same time.”

Beyond discovery, the report also advises brands to focus on loyalty programmes because consumers signed up to one indicate they are 1.5x more likely to be a promoter than those without one.

Members of loyalty programmes are also 45% more likely to make recommendations across categories, 25% more likely to have higher purchasing frequencies across categories and 20% more likely to have higher spending across categories.

Digital shoppers in Southeast Asia also show a strong preference for omnichannel shopping experiences, with more than 80% saying they compare prices across online discovery channels and in-store before they make a purchase decision.

Sourced from Bain & Company, Facebook; additional content by WARC staff