Consumer confidence in Asia-Pacific increased one index point to a score of 104 in the first quarter, rising in eight of 14 markets, declining in three and remaining flat in three. Indonesia (124) reported the highest score for the fifth consecutive quarter, which was flat compared to fourth-quarter 2013.
The region’s biggest increase was six points, coming from both India (121) and Hong Kong (111), which had the second- and fifth-highest scores of the 60 countries measured. The rise in India’s score returns it to the fourth-quarter 2012 level after several quarters of declining performance. Consumer confidence scores in the Philippines (116) and Thailand (108), as well as China (111), were also among the highest in the survey.
“In India, the overall perception about the economy has achieved a steady state. Many believe that things cannot get worse and that investments will pick up as the Indian fiscal year ends and most households expect the benefit of year-end bonuses,” said Piyush Mathur, president, Nielsen India. “However, inflation continues to be a challenge, and there is a sense of cautious anticipation about the outcomes of the world's largest democratic election. Despite these factors, discretionary spending intentions are slightly more buoyant than in previous quarters, as is typical at the end of the financial year, and in good time for the summer holiday season.”
“In China, we see stronger confidence among respondents in Tier 2 and 3 cities, compared with those in Tier 1 cities,” said Yan Xuan, president of Nielsen Greater China. “In these lower tier locations (Tier 2 and 3 cities), consumers have higher average salaries than their counterparts in lower tier locations (Tier 4 and 5 cities as well as rural China), and they have less work and life pressures than those living in Tier 1 cities. Consumers in the middle tier cities also demonstrate a greater willingness to purchase more premium products. The continued rise of the Chinese middle-class throughout the country bodes very well for China’s goal to grow its GDP through more domestic consumption, rather than solely rely on infrastructure investment and export.”
Meanwhile, consumer confidence in Australia (89) and Malaysia (92) declined six points each in the first quarter. Australia’s index dropped to its lowest score on record since Nielsen began measuring consumer confidence in 2005, and 44 percent of the country’s respondents felt mired in recession—up from 31 percent in fourth-quarter 2013.
“In Australia, a number of large manufacturers announced cost cutting efforts, job cuts and off-shoring of manufacturing facilities in the first quarter, which has likely impacted Australians’ overall confidence levels in the country’s economic outlook,” said Chris Percy, managing director, Nielsen Pacific. “This sentiment is reflected in Australians’ increasing concern around job prospects and the perception of the state of their personal finances.”
Discretionary saving and spending intentions in the Asia-Pacific region increased across all categories measured. The region boasted the most prolific savers, with 67 percent putting spare cash into savings accounts—an increase of 7 percentage points compared to fourth-quarter 2013. Investing in shares of stocks and mutual funds (38%) was also up 7 percentage points in the first quarter. Spending intentions increased for new clothes (+6 percentage points), home improvement projects (+6pp), holidays/vacations (+4pp), out-of-home entertainment (+3pp) and new technology (+3pp), compared to fourth-quarter 2013.
Other findings include:
For more detail and insight, download Nielsen’s Q1 2014 Global Consumer Confidence Report.
The Nielsen Global Survey of Consumer Confidence and Spending Intentions was conducted Feb. 17, 2014–March 7, 2014, and polled more than 30,000 online consumers in 60 countries throughout Asia-Pacific, Europe, Latin America, the Middle East/Africa and North America. The sample has quotas based on age and sex for each country based on their Internet users, and it’s weighted to be representative of Internet consumers and has a maximum margin of error of ±0.6 percent. This Nielsen survey is based on the behavior of respondents with online access only. Internet penetration rates vary by country. Nielsen uses a minimum reporting standard of 60 percent Internet penetration or 10 million online population for survey inclusion. The China Consumer Confidence Index is compiled from a separate mixed methodology survey among 3,500 respondents in China. The sub-Saharan African countries in this study are compiled from a separate mobile methodology survey among 1,600 respondents in Ghana, Kenya and Nigeria. The Nielsen Global Survey, which includes the Global Consumer Confidence Index, was established in 2005.