Kuala Lumpur - Apr. 30, 2014 -
Malaysia saw the region’s largest decline in confidence between Q4 2013 and Q1 2014, declining six index points to 92 (2 points below the global average of 94 points), according to the latest Nielsen Global Survey on Consumer Confidence and Spending Intentions released today by Nielsen, a global information and measurement company. (See Chart 1).
The Nielsen survey also showed that the results for Malaysia contrasts with those in other countries in the region. Indonesia’s confidence index score continued to remain the highest globally at 124 points in Q1 2014 while the Philippines scored 116 points, followed by Thailand (108 points), Singapore (99 points) and Vietnam (99 points). (See Chart 2).
“The continuing decline in consumer sentiment in the country compares unfavorably with the resilience seen in some of the neighboring countries” says Luca Griseri, Head of Nielsen’s Financial Services in Singapore and Malaysia. “For example, it is interesting that the well-known political challenges have had hardly any effect on Thai consumers, who remain generally optimistic about their financial situation. Malaysia which has recorded quarter-on-quarter declines for the past year is primarily driven by rising fuel and grocery prices due to the reduction in government subsidies in these areas.”
The Nielsen Global Survey of Consumer Confidence and Spending Intentions, established in 2005, measures consumer confidence, major concerns, and spending intentions amongst more than 30,000 respondents with Internet access1 in 60 countries. Consumer confidence levels above and below a baseline of 100 indicate degrees of optimism and pessimism
The economy, increasing food prices and job security remained Malaysian consumers’ top three concerns in Q1 2014. Compared to last quarter, 39 percent of Malaysians cited the economy as their main concern (up 4 points), followed by 21 percent of consumers who are worried about increasing food prices (down 2 points) in the coming six months. Job security remained in third position with a slight dip to 20 percent (down 3 points versus previous quarter). (See Chart 3).
Malaysian consumers are also concerned about their health (up 5 points to 16%) and increasing utility bills (up 3 points to 14%) as compared to previous quarter. On the contrary, concern surrounding debt (down 6 points to 13%) and crime (down 5 points to 13%) registered a decline versus last quarter.
“These data show that the economy and financial matters continue to be Malaysians’ main worries, more than other concerns.” says Griseri.
Saving intentions among consumers in Malaysia continue to increase, with more than three in five consumers saving their spare cash in Q1 2014 after covering essential living expenses (up 1 percentage point to 64%). Moreover, Malaysian consumers in Q1 2014 have cut back on expenses for home improvements (down 4 points to 14% from last quarter) and basic out of home entertainment (down 2 points to 16% versus previous quarter) as means to improving household expenses. (See Chart 4).
“Malaysian consumers’ reaction to concerns about the economy is to save more and spend less on discretionary items, to prepare for a possibly worsening economic climate. If these intentions materialize, they could have a negative effect on the economy” notes Griseri.
Eight in 10 Malaysian consumers continue to change their spending habit in the past year to increase household saving. Consumers in Malaysia cited that they would continue to reduce household spending even when economic conditions would improve in order to increase saving.
The top five areas where consumers in Malaysia will continue to cut back even when economic conditions do improve are saving on gas and electricity (41%), cutting down the purchase of new clothes (28%), reducing out-of-home entertainment (28%), switching to cheaper grocery brands (26%) and decreasing telephone expenses (21%). (See Chart 5).
“Despite Malaysian consumers’ tendency to save for a rainy day, it is interesting to note that they are still willing to spend on holidays, and this is reflective of consumers becoming more sophisticated in their spending and the rising demand throughout the region for experiential offerings.” said Griseri.
The Nielsen Global Survey of Consumer Confidence and Spending Intentions was conducted between February 17 and 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. In Malaysia, the sample size is 507. The sample has quotas based on age and sex for each country based on their Internet users, is weighted to be representative of Internet consumers, and has a maximum margin of error of ±0.6%. This Nielsen survey is based on the behaviour of respondents with online access only. Internet penetration rates vary by country. Nielsen uses a minimum reporting standard of 60-percent Internet penetration or 10M 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 Nielsen Global Survey, which includes the Global Consumer Confidence Index, was established in 2005.
Nielsen Holdings N.V. (NYSE: NLSN) is a global information and measurement company with leading market positions in marketing and consumer information, television and other media measurement, online intelligence and mobile measurement. Nielsen has a presence in approximately 100 countries, with headquarters in New York, USA, and Diemen, the Netherlands. For more information, visit www.nielsen.com.