Pandemic concerns recede, while rising prices drive value-driven purchases across SE Asia – Ipsos study

The Ipsos SEA Ahead survey ran across Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam in May and June 2022.

  • Although 31% of Thais rate their financial situation today as “bad,” 51% are optimistic that it will improve in the next 6 months
  • In a broader sense, Consumers believe the economy is in better shape compared to 2021 but inflation has overtaken COVID-19 as the biggest worry
  • More than half of the Southeast Asians surveyed are optimistic about the economy
  • 96% of SEA citizens claim to be heavily impacted by price changes

 

The majority (71%) of Southeast Asian (SEA) consumers are less concerned about COVID-19, however, inflation has overtaken the pandemic as their biggest worry despite most economies performing better compared to 2021, a new Ipsos survey reveals. 

The Ipsos SEA Ahead survey ran across the SEA markets of Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam during May and June.

SEA has experienced strict and lengthy lockdowns, low vaccination rates, and a disrupted supply chain for the past two years. But now, SEA citizens are more eager to socialize with increasing vaccination numbers and the tourism rebound. The majority have expressed confidence in dining in restaurants (74%), visiting family/friends (77%), and participating in cultural gatherings/events (77%). In Thailand, 63% were comfortable dining in restaurants, 67% visiting family/friends and 50% participating in gatherings.

While most citizens start to revert to their pre-pandemic ways, some behaviors adopted during the pandemic persist including being more health conscious and using online shopping. Across SEA (87%) proactively manage their health and wellness through food and beverage choices, while 85% buy products that support their physical and mental health and wellbeing. For example, 40% are using less e-cigarettes and 35% consuming less alcohol.

More people are also shopping online, with 39% saying they shop at a supermarket/hypermarket once a week or more and in Thailand the figure was 38%.

In line with the rest of the world, concerns have shifted away from the pandemic in Southeast Asia. The COVID-19 pandemic now ranks third in consumers’ top concerns, with personal finances and rising prices or inflation now ranked as the top two concerns. In Thailand, the top three concerns were, as predicted, personal finances, the Covid-19 pandemic and health concerns.

The economic outlook remains positive (54%), and consumers seem hopeful that their personal finances will be better (56%)


Three in four SEA consumers say rising prices are having a significant impact on their lives. In Thailand, consumers say they are “very impacted’ by price increases. Despite this, they continue to spend on necessities such as food, cleaning products, and personal care products and are saving money in other ways. In Thailand, savings are being made in leisure activities.


Suresh Ramalingam, Ipsos Chief Executive Officer – Southeast Asia, said: “With most of Southeast Asia transitioning to an endemic phase of COVID-19 and coping with inflation, it is more important than ever that leaders exercise resilience and longer-term foresight to adapt to rapid, complex change. Inflationary times are indeed challenging—how are we going to innovate? Adjust pricing strategies? Rethink brand differentiations? Amidst the uncertainties, the way forward requires determining what is right for your consumers, balancing short-term gains and long-term risks, and most importantly, building your empathy muscle to create real connections with them and take relevant actions.”

 

SEA Ahead W6 Infographics


 

Consumer & Shopper