While ASEAN has been enjoying economic recognition in recent years, many businesses approach the region as a single entity and surprisingly, little is known about the many cities and regions that make up the archipelago.
The diversity of its 625 million people represents a multitude of ethnicities, languages and religion spread across 10 coalition nations - Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. Such a complex landscape calls for a granular approach to understanding market opportunities in ASEAN. Moving beyond national averages to understand regional differences is crucial. Focus should be placed on establishing granular strategies targeting specific customer segments and regions. In some cases, it may make more sense to prioritize middleweight regions above countries.
These and other insights were highlighted in a report by Nielsen/AlphaBeta report, Rethinking ASEAN, which dispels common myths about the consumer and marketplace dynamics within the region to reveal the real ASEAN consumer landscape, and forecasts the hotspots for growth out to 2030. The analysis looks into the current and future potential consumer demand for over 700 cities and regions within the seven largest economies of ASEAN and covers 10 of the most popular product categories: chocolate, instant noodles, carbonated soft drink, beer, cigarettes, shampoo, laundry detergent, baby diapers, facial moisturizer, and vitamins. The analysis is fuelled by a forecasting tool called ASEAN Consumer Demand Forecaster.
The report reveals that ASEAN's middleweight regions with population between 500,000 to five million are the region's next big bet for growth, debunking the commonly held belief that mega-cities such as Jakarta, Manila and Bangkok are the region's sole engine for growth.
The Nielsen/AlphaBeta report identifies three primary city-tiers within ASEAN - mega-cities, with a population of over five million, large middleweight regions or cities with a population of more than one million and less than five million, and small middleweight regions or cities with a population between 500,000 to one million.
In examining regions and provinces in ASEAN, the report further revealed that within one country, there can be regions with annual growth rates in double-digits, and other regions with no growth at all. As an example, in Thailand, country-level demand has grown as a relatively modest 1.2% per annum since 2010, however, Chiang Mai (with more than 500,000 inhabitants) grew seven time that rate.
To know more about the real ASEAN consumer landscape, download the report above.