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Experian finds Asian online shopping habits vary widely

Asian online shoppers research, locate, engage with and purchase products and services in entirely different ways in different markets, according to a new report from Experian.

For example, the biggest driver of online-to-offline (O2O) conversions varies by country: email in Singapore, SMS in Indonesia, chat apps in China, social media in Malaysia and Thailand and video ads in Hong Kong.

And 27 per cent of consumers in China and 10 per cent of consumers in Singapore unknowingly input wrong payment details, breaking the region’s e-commerce momentum. Meanwhile, almost all consumers in Indonesia knowingly provide brands with wrong details, including name (93 per cent), phone number (94 per cent), and email address (95 per cent) when researching or shopping online.

The Digital Consumer View 2016 report from Experian contains research from International Data Corporation (IDC) and is aimed at helping businesses better understand digital consumers in Asia.

The report reveals how consumer behaviour varies across the key Asian markets of Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Hong Kong, and China, based on surveys with over 1200 digital consumers.

Differences exist across channels (SMS, app notifications, email, social media, chat apps), devices (smartphone, feature phone, WiFi/cellular tablet, wearable) and content (ads in email, ads in mobile apps, ads in social media, video ads on websites, and search ads). The findings highlight the complexity of reaching digital consumers in Asia across many channels, but also highlight how crucial that is, says Jeff Price, MD of Southeast Asia at Experian.

“While the region is fast-growing, consumer behaviour in each market has unique disparities. Businesses today cannot succeed without intelligent insights based on consumer data,” Price said.

“Asia is in the midst of a great digital revolution, with an explosion of smart devices, social media interactions and e-commerce transactions. While this evolution has greatly enabled and empowered both sides, it has also challenged businesses to be more effective and targeted in the way they communicate and market to this modern, digital-savvy consumer.

“For companies to keep up with digital consumer behaviours – how they act on information – it’s absolutely vital to adopt and leverage what their consumers are providing them with every day – invaluable data. Businesses slow to act on this data will see their competitive advantage erode.”

Key findings

  • Search and discovery: Social media is the top channel in Singapore (31 per cent), Malaysia (49 per cent), Indonesia (67 per cent) and Thailand (58 per cent). It’s equally important as chat apps in China (47 per cent); in Hong Kong, video ads (63 per cent) trumps all.
  • Triggering product interest: Social media, once again, is the key driver in Singapore (28 per cent), Malaysia (44 per cent), Thailand (49 per cent) and Hong Kong (25 per cent). However, in Indonesia it’s SMS (62 per cent), and in China it is chat apps (48 per cent).
  • Triggering purchase intent: Email is the biggest driver of online to offline conversion in Singapore (27 per cent); SMS tops in Indonesia (57 per cent); chat apps in China (45 per cent); social media in Malaysia (44 per cent) and Thailand (51 per cent); and video ads tie with social media in Hong Kong (23 per cent).
  • Finding good deals: For unplanned purchases stemming from promotions, email leads in Singapore (34 per cent); social media in Malaysia (50 per cent), Indonesia (68 per cent) and Thailand (58 per cent); SMS in Hong Kong (36 per cent), and social media in China (51 per cent).
  • Brand engagement: Email is key for marketers to build engagement in Singapore (58 per cent) and Thailand (60 per cent); chat apps in Malaysia (62 per cent) and China (70 per cent); banner ads in Indonesia (56 per cent), and SMS in Hong Kong (61 per cent). While email is important, marketers need to be wary: more than 70 per cent of consumers reported receiving too many emails, up from 52 per cent in 2015.

Shiv Putcha, associate director, consumer mobility and telco strategy with IDC Asia Pacific, said businesses and brands cannot afford to ignore Asia’s multi-trillion-dollar digital commerce market. China alone is now the world’s largest retail market.

“The challenge lies in the fact that the region has extraordinary differences – language, economy, purchasing power – and consumer behaviours, especially with the digital generation. That uniqueness will not diminish over the next few years and may even increase, making it challenging for marketers not using data-driven insights to research, plan and execute effectively. The Digital Consumer View 2016 (Asia) will hopefully serve as a valuable guide to deciphering some of these key trends, mapping the path forward for brands and their connected consumers.”

Key Learnings for marketers in Asia

  • Over-reliance on a single marketing channel will not work. Depending on the country and its current state of digital sophistication, marketers need to think carefully about the right mix of channels to employ.
  • Quality over quantity. Consumer preferences for receiving promotional material varies from market to market, and by specific use cases. On a broader level, more is not necessarily better. A relevant and targeted message will ensure better conversion. Too much, and consumers are inclined to unsubscribe, delete, or mark content as spam.
  • The quality and integrity of data is crucial for marketers to find success. A significant number of consumers across the region either knowingly or unknowingly provide inaccurate information, which in turn causes errors and inaccuracies in marketer’s data sets. Around 27 per cent of consumers in China but only 10 per cent in Singapore unknowingly input wrong payment details; 40 per cent of consumers in China, and over 20 per cent of consumers in the rest of the region provide a wrong address at online checkout.
  • Asia comprises 49.6 per cent of the world’s Internet users, according to Internet World Stats (2016), digital commerce in the Asia-Pacific (excluding Japan) region will rise to US$17 trillion by 2019, up from US$7 trillion in 2015 according to International Data Corporation (IDC). The combination of rising incomes, increased consumption, acceleration of internet use, and the proliferation of mobile broadband access continues to unlock tremendous opportunities for marketers across the continent.

This story first appeared on sister site, Inside Retail Asia.

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