Consumers from Southeast Asia continue to show the highest optimism globally in the second quarter with an index score of 112, far-surpassing the global consumer confidence score of 96 points, according to the Nielsen’s second quarter Consumer Confidence Index released today.
While confidence levels in Southeast Asia remain relatively high, the Philippines was the only market where consumer sentiment increased in the past quarter, gaining seven points to rise to a score of 122—the country’s highest level on record. In contrast, Vietnam (104) reported Southeast Asia’s biggest quarterly decline in confidence (down 8 points) followed by Malaysia (89), which dropped five points from the first quarter. Despite the declines, the Philippines, Indonesia (120), Thailand (111) and Vietnam remain among the top 10 most optimistic markets globally.
“Across Southeast Asia optimism remains high, but in this past quarter we’ve seen some signs of vulnerability emerge in certain markets,” observed Regan Leggett, Nielsen Client Service Director in Southeast Asia, North Asia and Pacific. “On the one hand we have markets like Philippines where we’re seeing a continued influx of foreign investments and a robust domestic consumption base. In comparison, markets such as Vietnam are starting to face headwinds such as declining foreign direct investment and a struggling retail environment.”
Across the region consumers continue to flag the state of the economy as one of their major concerns over the coming six month. Consumers in Thailand (45%) and Malaysia (43%) and Indonesia (37%) are among the most concerned globally.
Job security ranks as the second biggest concern for consumers in Southeast Asia (13%), particularly in Singapore (31%). Other major worries in the region include health, work/life balance, and increasing utility bills.
Southeast Asian consumers continue to be among the world’s most conscientious savers, with seven in 10 (70%) funnelling their spare cash into savings. Consumers in Vietnam are the biggest savers globally (73%), while consumers from the Philippines (72%) and Indonesia (69%) rank second and third and those from Singapore and Thailand (66%) tie in fifth place while consumers from Malaysia take the sixth spot globally.
Southeast Asian consumers are also increasingly looking for diversified investment strategies. Consumers in Thailand (39%), Malaysia and Indonesia (32%), Singapore (28%) and the Philippines (27%) are investing their spare cash into stock/mutual funds while consumers in Thailand (29%), Singapore (26%), Malaysia (24%) and Vietnam (15%) are channelling their spare funds toward building their retirement fund.
“Consumers across the region consistently show a strong propensity to plan for the future and save for a rainy day,” said Leggett. “Growing interest in diversified investment strategies is a good sign for industries such as banking and finance, as demand increases for a broader range of banking products and services.”
As the general cost of living continues to increase across Southeast Asia, at least nine in 10 consumers in Thailand (90%), Malaysia and Vietnam (86%), Philippines (85%), Indonesia (81%) and Singapore (62%) have adjusted their spending habits over the past 12 months in a bid to reduce household spending.
More than six in 10 consumers in Malaysia (64%) and Singapore (62%), Vietnam and the Philippines (60%) are spending less on new clothing, while 52% of Thais are cutting down on out-of-home entertainment and 50% of Indonesians are delaying technology upgrades in their effort to reduce household expenses.
While consumers remain conscientious toward securing their finances, an increasing number are splurging on holidays, including nearly half of Singaporeans (49%), 45% of Thais and Indonesians, and two in five Malaysians (40%).
This article is based on insights contained in the Q2 2015 Nielsen Global Consumer Confidence Report. Click ‘Request Report Download’ to access the complete global report.