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SEA consumer confidence hits record high: Nielsen

Southeast Asian consumer confidence continued its steady rise in the first quarter of 2015, reaching the highest level recorded to date and far out-stripping other global markets, according to the latest Nielsen Global Survey of Consumer Confidence and Spending Intentions.

Southeast Asia (comprising Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam) posted a score of 114 points in Nielsen’s Q1 2015 Consumer Confidence Index, up two points compared to the previous quarter and 17 points above the global consumer confidence index score of 97 points.

The Southeast Asia score was the highest recorded by Nielsen since it began reporting a Southeast Asia consumer confidence index in 2008. According to Nielsen, underlying the results were consumers’ strengthening confidence in the state of their personal finances and a growing willingness to spend.

The report highlighted that Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam rank among the most optimistic consumers in the world. Consumer confidence was steady at 100 points in Singapore.

In Malaysia, consumer confidence rebounded by five points to 94 in Q1 2015, following a dramatic 10-point decline between Q3 and Q4 2014 that delivered the weakest result for the country since 2009. While economic growth there has accelerated, spurred by exports and services, uncertainty surrounding the introduction of a goods and services tax saw close to one third of consumers (31 per cent) flag the economy as their greatest concern.

More than seven in 10 Southeast Asians feel that they are in a good position when it comes to the state of the personal finances in the year ahead, led by Indonesia (84 per cent) and the Philippines (77 per cent), compared to 56 per cent globally.

The only country in Southeast Asia that returned a score beneath the global averages for job prospects and personal financial outlook over the next 12 months was Malaysia. However, Malaysian consumers were more positive in Q1 2015 than in Q4 2014.

Consumers in Southeast Asia are diligent savers, with an overwhelming majority (71 per cent) intending to put their spare cash into savings after they have covered their essential living expenses, an increase of two points quarter-on-quarter and up nine points compared to the same time a year ago. Consumers in Vietnam are the most intent globally on building their savings fund – 78 per cent put their spare cash into savings.

Outside of building their savings accounts, the most common item consumers purchase with their spare cash is holidays – close to two fifths of Southeast Asian consumers (39 per cent) spend their spare cash on holidays, particularly Singaporeans (48 per cent) and Thais (45 per cent).

Shubhi Tandon

Shubhi Tandon is the Assistant Editor at Digital Market Asia. Fascinated by the evolving digital media industry, she has focussed on tracking developments in the Asia Pacific market since 2014.