Brands and retailers need to strengthen local ties through both and offline presences as shoppers this year will be largely focused on frictionless commerce and a further pursuit of tech-enabled lifestyles.
“A sense of optimism is surfacing and people are aligning purchases with their values seeking to deepen their connection with local culture,” Athena Chen, senior strategist of Asia-Pacific (APAC) of trend forecasting company WGSN, said in a virtual trend talk.
She said creativity and culture will be key to connecting with younger Asian shoppers who are now also looking for playful and unique products and services.
Chen presented its flagship report “Asia Shopper Forecast 2022” highlighting eight key Asia shopper profiles reshaping the retail landscape this year and beyond spanning a wide range of demographics across all markets from mass to luxury.
These profiles are the Digital streamliners, Social explorers, Ultra-value seekers, The self-rewarders, Joyful escapists, The creative class, Changemakers, and Luxury reflectors.
Chen cited the latest Southeast Asia (SEA) e-Conomy report by Google, Temasek and Bain & Company indicating that SEA is predicted to become a $1-trillion digital economy by 2030.
“Consumers in APAC are now expecting to make purchases when they want and how they want. And this means shoppers are transitioning seamlessly between online and offline for product research, purchasing, leaving a fully hybrid shopping lifestyle nowadays,” she said.
Chen said it is thus important to upgrade the digital shopping experience with full product range availability, convenience and speed in customer service, and comprehensive payment options.
“In 2022, APAC consumers expect more mobile payment options both online and offline. So brands and retailers need to ensure investment is made to meet customer expectations,” she added.
To connect to these Digital streamliners, Chen said actions and opportunities include adopting a mobile-first mindset, adapting to non-linear customer journeys, refining the digital customer experience, and investing in payments as an enabler.
She further said Social explorers are shoppers looking for hyper-personal and interactive brand experiences online, and their purchase decisions are driven by new trends, peer groups, and micro-influencers they follow.
Chen said it is imperative for brands and retailers to connect content with commerce, prioritize personal connections, connect through micro-communities, and “think and act local”.
On Ultra-value seekers, she said the prolonged impact of the pandemic is also inevitably driving some shoppers to search for value whenever possible.
Chen said the 2021 EY Future Consumer Index indicates that 56 percent see price as more important than before, while 44 percent are purchasing only essentials.
“Key mega sales dates are now growing in importance beyond discounts to play a role in driving product and brand discovery,” she said. “Affordable alternatives to traditional ownership of goods are on the rise.”
Chen said there is a need to prioritize the merchandising of top-selling products to encourage consumers to buy and discount in bulk, and explore further tiered pricing strategies to provide flexible and affordable options.
She urged retailers to address essential needs, adopt multi-tiered pricing, employ strategic markdowns, and benchmark pricing strategies.
Other key Asia shopper profiles to watch for 2022 and beyond are the following:
The self-rewarders – This optimistic cohort is adopting savvy digital shopping habits to afford premium purchases and treat themselves as they experience major life events, such as getting their first job, purchasing their first home, getting married, and having their first child.
Joyful escapists – A growing number of APAC shoppers looking to escape from daily pressures are now turning to the alternative realities of anime, comics and gaming, which is driving in real life (IRL) influence for novel products and experiences.
The creative class – The recent boom in craft and DIY (do it yourself) has paved the way for the experience-focused consumer who is looking for creative engagement, artisanal connections, and values unique IRL experiences.
Changemakers – A growing cohort of younger shoppers in Asia are now socially conscious and actively finding solutions to ongoing environmental and social challenges.
Luxury reflectors – Wealthier shoppers in the region are now embracing introspection and moments of pause, and are expecting brands to act as value creators and support culturally relevant production.