Asian consumers still keen

DESPITE the recent Asian financial crisis the Asian consumer is alive and well. Asia’s halcyon days prior to the crisis have left Asians with a taste for consumer goods.

Market research firm Taylor Nelson Sofres regional director North Asia Region David Richardson said Indo-nesia had probably been hardest hit by the crisis, yet Indonesians had wanted to maintain their lifestyle.

It appears now that some confidence is returning.

In Korea, for example, twelve months ago 18 per cent of consumers thought they would be better off in one year’s time. Now 80 per cent think they will be better off this time next year.

During the crisis the Philippines received International Monetary Fund assistance but its consumers did not know that and kept on spending.

Taiwan, China and Vietnam seemed to emerge from the crisis relatively unscathed. Consumers in Vietnam, for example, are eagerly awaiting the release of Windows 2000.

At a Department of Commerce and Trade and Austrade-organised Asian Update seminar, Austrade executive general manager North East Asian Region Greg Dodds said the Asian crisis was not as bad as reported.

However, Mr Dodds said people should not put a lot of faith in reports expressing premature optimism now.

“We were probably too pessimistic earlier and too optimistic now,” he said.

Mr Richardson said the next century could still be Asia’s.

“Asia has half the world’s popu-lation, educated consumers, rising education and affluence, the increasing economic role of women, a Confucian-driven attention to looking good and globalisation,” he said.

Mr Richardson said the recent crisis actually sped up the process of globalisation in Asia rather than slowing it.

Mr Richardson said new market segments such as women and youth were opening.

“Generation-X marketing, that has been around for the past five years here, is a new phenomenon in Asia,” he said.

“Marketers in Asia must quickly come to terms with the segmentation, globalisation and retail revolution there.

Mr Richardson said Internet shop-ping would grow out of Asia. But Internet take-up is still slow.

He said the scene in Asia had changed considerably in recent times.

“Common knowledge that served you will in the past is probably of little use now,” Mr Richardson said.

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