Peter Gale, Managing Director, Retailer Services Asia Pacific, Middle East and Africa, The Nielsen Company
Fifteen years ago, the retail scene in Asia was, in most countries, dominated by traditional open food or "wet markets" and independent stores run by the nice couple down the street. These outlets provided just about everything the typical shopper needed. Fast forward to today, where increasingly affluent consumers have become more discerning about where they spend their money and have expanded the types of goods they buy. In short, “one size” shopping no longer works for many consumers, and retailers are adapting to win a bigger share of wallet.
Today’s consumers have multiple shopping needs and different shopping missions. They are willing to take the time to visit a number of retail outlets to fulfill those needs. One way retailers are addressing this need is by moving beyond their core retail outlet concept. For example, Tesco, a major retailer in Thailand has created smaller venues in the value, supermarkets and convenience channels. 7-Eleven, a major convenience store chain has expanded into books and bakeries. All of these moves are aimed at driving growth, increasing customer relevance and gaining share of wallet.
Where are consumers going to meet their shopping needs? The wet market remains the destination of choice when it comes to fresh foods. In many cases, visits to the market are part of a daily routine. Hypermarkets are typically a monthly destination, where consumers stock up on essentials, while visits to supermarkets tend to occur weekly. Convenience stores are impulse destinations, places to buy a beverage or food to go. Mini-marts tend to be the places where consumers shop to “top up” groceries, while shoppers visit personal care stores to meet their increasingly sophisticated needs for health & beauty products
Meeting the changing needs of shoppers doesn’t stop simply at multiple formats. The increasingly connected consumer is connected to the world, is seeking value, wants choice in terms of the product as well as where they can buy those products. What’s more, traditional retailers are facing increasingly intense competition from agile start-ups who are launching though non-traditional channels such as online, catalogues and TV shopping.
Changing lifestyles is one factor driving consumers’ migration to multiple and non-traditional formats. As time becomes more precious, people put a premium on convenient solutions that make life easier. At the same time, technology – particularly mobile – has enabled consumers to hit the Internet for a range of activities such as entertainment, socializing and information gathering. It is only natural that they would like to indulge in one of their favorite hobbies – shopping – online as well.
A Look at the Online Asian Shopper
According to recent Nielsen research, more than 80 percent of the online population claims to have made an online purchase, with three in five saying they have done so in the past month. In the more developed markets of North Asia, shoppers are the most likely to have made online purchase and the Chinese are fast catching up, as evidenced by the tremendous growth of online shopping site Taobao. Books and clothing are the most popular goods bought online, followed by electronics and travel. Groceries come in at 19 percent.