Asia is a diverse market and the way its retail channel works from one country to another in the region is unique to each individual market. However, there are some common traits that describe the behaviour of Asian shoppers.

In our Grey and G2 Asia Pacific Eye on Asia – Retail study, we interviewed around 2,100 adults in Australia, China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia and Vietnam to gain valuable insights into the Purchase Decision Journey of an average Asian shopper.

The survey was unique and threw up a lot of interesting findings, which force marketers to look at the retail channel quite differently across the region.

One such interesting eye-sight is the fact that Asian shoppers visit stores not just for products, but also for the experience.

What does this mean?

This means that at the very basic level, Asian shoppers are not treating the retail space as a place to fulfill their immediate need but also as a place to get educated. It is at a store that they compare products and decide on their purchase. A shopping journey is not just about ‘purchases’ but gaining ‘experiences’ that they can talk to their friends and relatives about.

“Once I see new things, I have new topics of conversation with my friends.”

This is true not just for hypermarkets/supermarkets, but also true for pharmacies and provision shops/mom & pop stores. However, depending on the maturity of the market, the association with different formats is different. For example, in hypermarkets/supermarkets, the novelty of experiences makes shopper moods in China and Indonesia (59% and 80% respectively) more relaxed, as compared to developed markets like Japan and Australia (19% and 32% respectively.

In India, 69% of the people surveyed agree that a journey to the store is one that is adventurous, even if it is just a trip to the provision shop.

Asians describe their moods while shopping to be fun, relaxed, happy, excited, exploratory and adventurous. Only 4% of Asians mention that they are bored when shopping.

Additionally, not only are Asian shoppers looking for unique experiences whilst shopping, they also spend quite a bit of time in each of their journeys. For example, the average Asian shopper spends over 52 minutes in hypermarkets/supermarkets and what this means is that a lot of prior research happens at the shop level before deciding on what they would purchase.

As such, these findings open up a varied set of implications.


This interesting eye-sight opens up two sets of implications – one for retailers and the other for marketers.

Let us first look at the implications for retailers. As shoppers are not just visiting the store purely for product purchase, retailers should be looking at providing shoppers with both a unique shopping environment and experience which will help increase their interest to explore the store and return for further purchases.

This is where sensory branding techniques used by retailers can often help create the ‘perfect’ environment through the use of ambient lighting and carefully chosen fragrances. Provide Asian shoppers a reason to stick by your store and chances are that they will visit you again.

Now let us look at the implications for marketers. Since it is the experience that Asian shoppers are looking for, marketers can give them experiences through product demonstrations and other kinds of promotions that bring the brand to live.

The store environment is extremely important for Asian shoppers in hypermarkets/supermarkets, with 61% of them considering this to be a key driver that influences their purchase. However, as mentioned previously, depending on the maturity of the markets, the importance of drivers vary. For example, in emerging markets like India and China, 75% of shoppers agree that the store environment is a key driver for hypermarkets/supermarkets as well as pharmacies.

So the challenge lies in the fact that as a marketer, how can you help Asian shoppers to experience your products?

If you are a tea marketer, how can you provide your customers with a taste of your product? Or if you are a shampoo brand that is looking to launch a new variant, how do you make your consumers experience you? Perhaps marketers of shampoos can give consumers a free hair wash and through this experience, consumers might purchase your products.

The other bit of ‘experience’ also derives from the fact that Asian consumers use the retail space as a place to learn. It is here that they compare products and brands and read about the ingredients in the items that they want to buy.

And this is the reason why a whopping 80% of Asian shoppers in emerging markets consider product range to be a main store driver in hypermarkets/supermarkets. In future, this could well emerge as a key point of intervention for retailers as well as marketers – through sales staff or leaflet activities. If stores can make it easier for shoppers, they may gain more than a fair proportion of shoppers’ mindshare.

To summarise, here are a few implications for marketers that emerge from this eye-sight:

1.    Keep brands current in the minds of consumers by conducting promotions and in-store activities.

2.    Provide information or conduct activities that are worthy of creating a buzz, making it the “talk of the town”.

3.    Have well-informed sales staff ready to assist in purchase decisions of consumers when they are in the product comparison stage. This helps in building on their shopping experience and improving the image of the brand.

4.    Have attractive displays that allow shoppers to interact with the product and give them a touch and feel experience that will help them in their purchase decision.

The possibilities are endless. What marketers need to understand is the mindset of consumers, and therefore create varied opportunities to entice shoppers to purchase when they are in-store.

Contributed by Sagnik Ghosh, Senior Planning Director, Grey Group India