Havas Group’s Charu Aggarwal Harish outlines the opportunities for brands in Asia in meeting the demands of a consumer base defined by “Do Everything Yourself”.

COVID 19 brought with it an explosion of people who turned into chefs overnight, whisking Dolgona Coffee, picking up DIY hacks and powering up the search trends from ‘how to bake bread’ to joining online courses. We saw people at their creative best irrespective of country or age but as the lockdown lifts in most markets in APAC, one wonders if it was all just a flash in the pan or does it point towards a larger behavioural change bought about by the anxiety and the pressures of the pandemic?

To understand these shifts, Havas Group dived into how consumer expectations and behaviours are changing in a post-lockdown world and found that these actions were a result of the pressures of the pandemic, which have left an indelible mark on the consumer psyche.

Our study found that 1 in 2 Asians are looking at brands to help them learn and adopt a new skill, so it’s not just about easy hacks and DIY anymore. People are now shifting from a DIY mindset to a DEY (Do Everything Yourself) mindset. They are adopting new skills that will help them be ready to face any kind of situation in the future and trying to build self-sufficiency in their lives and their businesses.

This need for self-sufficiency is more pronounced in emerging economies like the Philippines, Indonesia and India where 54% of the people find it extremely important to learn and upskill themselves.

For emerging Asia, the chart below maps the behaviours that increased during the lockdown and the sticky quadrant on the top right shows the ones that will continue to increase even post lockdown.

Emerging Asia

What we see clearly is a DEY mindset that prioritises online learning for self and kids to ready them for the uncertainties that the future holds.

What’s also increasing post-lockdown are behaviours around continuing home workouts; online telemedicine consultations, and activities that inspire them to continue pursuing activities like cooking, painting and home décor. Web and video conferencing also continue to rise showing not just business activities but also a whole new way of learning and socialising.

Developed Asia

On the other hand, the situation is very different in the more developed economies like Singapore and Korea where only 1 in 4 find it important to adopt a new skill. But what’s interesting is that the need to boost up online learning for self and kids is also a priority in these economies.

There is a DEY mindset towards readying themselves and their children to build stronger self-sufficiency into their lives and in their work/ business models to tackle areas like gig economies or loss of talent upstream and downstream.

This shift in behaviour is a huge opportunity for brands to drive deeper engagement and build communities around the skills of the future and in enabling societies with rethinking and reshaping how we want the future workforce to be.

The differences that we see in developed Asian markets versus the emerging economies shows how strongly the psyche is linked to the pandemic pressures. Currently, both Singapore and Korea are slowly getting back to life as usual with negligible COVID cases and consumers are going back to shades of normality/ life as they knew it before the pandemic.

In contrast, markets like Indonesia, India are opening up their economies while the numbers are still rising due to the social and economic pressures that COVID-19 has created. The consumers in these economies are learning to function alongside the pandemic restrictions. It’s a new world for the consumers in emerging economies where their resilience is being put to test and they are shaping themselves and the environment around them to get ready for any situation that this pandemic might bring.

What are the implications for brands and businesses as we connect with the consumers across these two kinds of Asian markets?

To read the full Meaningful Brands 2020 Study: Life After Lockdown report, click here.

Our study also dug deeper on which areas people want to learn more and where brands are playing catch-up in assuaging this DEY mindset. For developed nations, one of the key areas where consumers want to adopt and reskill themselves is financial wellness.

Consumers are keen to learn and get into the DEY mindset when it comes to managing money matters, planning for financial security and being equipped in banking and fintech skills. This is a key area where consumers feel brands are playing catch-up and there is a gap between what consumers want versus what the banking and fintech brands are delivering today.

This offers a distinct opportunity for brands to start thinking about how to build up the skills for consumers, small local businesses and equip them with 

a) information and utilities that make them independent in financial planning matters; 

b) choosing the right ways to grow their money and build knowledge on areas like delivering stronger ROIs.

Interestingly, this gap is not present in the emerging economies where consumers feel the banking and fintech categories are doing enough to help them adopt new skills.

For emerging economy sectors where consumers see a gap in delivery especially on the area of DEY and adopting/ learning a new skill is in categories like health and wellness and in e-commerce.

Given safety tech has become baseline across all categories, consumers expect health and wellness brands to equip them with skills and platforms to deliver trusted information on safety and health standards and enable them to measure where their safety/ health might be at risk.

In addition, 63% Asians expect brands to improve health and safety standards across all categories and it’s a perfect opportunity for health brands to upskill consumers and make them more confident in areas like self-care, learning different kinds of therapies and remedies that can help to keep themselves and their families safe and healthy.

The COVID-19 pandemic has had significant economic, psychological and social effects on the population. Globally research has highlighted that this impact is more pronounced across children and college students, who will be forming the workforce of the future.

The scars of the pandemic will shape how they evolve and shape their learning agenda, cope with challenges like job losses and thrive in the new gig economy. Behavioural shifts like the progression from DIY to DEY shine a spotlight on what these changes will look like and how brands can leverage this change to reshape and reskill the societies of tomorrow.