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Economic optimism driving Asia’s consumers back in stores

In the Philippines where much of the pandemic restrictions are already lifted, major mall developers are reporting that consumer traffic has reached up to 95% of pre-COVID levels in the third quarter of 2022, according to a 2023 retail property market outlook report by real estate company Colliers Philippines.

WGSN, the global authority on trend forecasting, published its annual “Asia Shopper Forecast 2023” report highlighting the Asian consumer preferences and profiles that will impact consumer decision making in 2023 and beyond.

The forecast is meant to help brands, businesses, and marketers to strategize and create meaningful experiences catered to the consumers of tomorrow. 

“As we enter 2023, the effects of a global economic crisis will manifest and always-rising consumer expectations will force businesses in the region to find new drivers of growth. Just as mobility in Asia-Pacific (APAC) returns to pre-pandemic levels, Asian shoppers will continue to prioritise travel and look to heading out In-Real-Life (IRL), while retailers will need to offer powerful counterpoints to digital fatigue. At the same time, the uptake of digital technologies that commenced during the pandemic, will continue to enable consumers to move seamlessly between online and offline channels.  We will also begin to see a growing desire among Asian consumers to make the most out of the present by finding respite in a variety of experiences despite the global economic slowdown,” said Jess Tang, Senior Consultant of APAC, WGSN.

A region with a changing consumer behavior

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In the Philippines where much of the pandemic restrictions are already lifted, major mall developers are reporting that consumer traffic has reached up to 95% of pre-COVID levels in the third quarter of 2022, according to a 2023 retail property market outlook report by real estate company Colliers Philippines.

The same report saw more foreign and local retailers opening physical stores in malls due to the rising consumer traffic and anticipated increase in purchasing power. Colliers expects the food and beverage segment to account for 50% of upcoming mall retailers while fashion, accessories, beauty, and health will account for 27%.

This shows that consumers in the Philippines and in the region are now coming back to physical stores with many craving IRL, sensory, and engaging experiences. Savvier decision makers will also emerge with more conscious buying decisions and mobile will be key to reaching consumers with convenience and speed.

The key Asia shopper behavioural trends to watch for 2023 and beyond are: 

  • Sensory adventurers – IRL experiences are now a key motivator for APAC consumers to head out and shop. After increased time spent online, sensory adventurers are getting out and about in 2023, seeking in-person experiences that foster creativity, excitement and tactile moments.
  • Phygital (physical + digital) connectors – During the pandemic, retailers looked to shift online to connect with many first-time digital shoppers. Now as consumers are gradually venturing out, phygital connectors are still looking to the convenience of technology, and want the best of both online and offline shopping.
  • Thrifty indulgers – While APAC consumers feel uncertain and anxious about their future and the economy, thrifty indulgers will spend effort on hunting for products and services that create micro moments of indulgence and bring them joy on a limited budget.
  • Present hedonists – The shocks of Covid-19 and global political and economic uncertainty have given way to the emergence of ‘live for now’ values. This cohort of present hedonists is now prioritising their present wants to enjoy life to its fullest post-pandemic.
  • The conversationalists – Evolving from last year’s Social explorers, the social-driven conversationalists are now deepening their relationships with brands by forging hyper-personal connections and building conversations and trust via private messaging. 
  • Inclusivity advocates – The social justice movement that gathered momentum in 2020 has had a meaningful impact on consumer values. Moving ahead, the inclusivity advocates will spend more based on their social values, supporting minority-owned brands and investing in underrepresented communities.
  • Mindful re-assessors – A growing cohort of younger shoppers in Asia are reassessing what post-pandemic living means and accepting there will be no return to ‘normal’. The pandemic has impacted their perspective on what is considered important in life, and mindful re-assessors are looking to change the way they live and work.

Developed using its proprietary methodology to identify the signals of change and evaluate, verify and forecast trends, WGSN works with over 440 industry experts globally to map influencers, disruptors and changemakers to deliver clear and specific action points. WGSN’s consumer sentiments are selected using WGSN’s unique STEPIC framework: examining changes in society, technology, the environment, politics, industry and creativity to identify the macro forces that will drive the emotional sentiments in the years to come.

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