13 June 2005
Asian consumers are clearly the world’s most optimistic while the vast majority of Europeans and Americans remain firmly in the doldrums, according to the latest global online consumer confidence survey from ACNielsen.
The ACNielsen Online Consumer Confidence Survey, the largest twice-yearly global survey of its kind, is aimed to gauge consumers’ current confidence levels, spending habits/intentions and current major concerns. The survey, which took place in May 2005, polled over 21,100 respondents in 38 markets from Europe, Asia Pacific, North America, Latin America and Emerging Markets.
Looking back over the last six months, the Asia Pacific region (41%) was the most optimistic, while less than one fifth of consumers in Europe and North America respectively believed their local economies improved in the first half of the year. Among all, people in India (79%), Hong Kong (75%) and China (70%) were feeling the most upbeat the world over.
“Socially and economically, China and India are still developing at a galloping rate when compared to the rest of the world. With economic growth rates of over eight percent per annum, Chinese and Indian consumers have greater spending power today than they have had at any time in recent history,” said Ms Vicky Santos, Executive Director of ACNielsen Research Singapore.
Singapore was also amongst the top four most optimistic countries in Asia with one in two Singaporeans (55%) believing the local economy had improved in the early half of the year.
“After the economic slump brought about by SARS in 2003, growth in the Singapore economy in 2004 had resumed, and the momentum continues through the new year in 2005,” Ms Santos continued. “While 37% of Singaporeans felt that the country’s performance stayed the same, a minority of them (8%), however, indicated that they are feeling the heat of a deteriorating economy.” Findings showed that sentiments for the remaining half of the year do not differ much from what was felt about the past six months.
In stark contrast from the optimistic Asian markets, most European consumers are dwelling on whether their economies could possibly get any worse – and recovery for most people is still far off. In a global top ten ranking of the world’s most pessimistic nations, European nations accounted for seven.
JOB PROSPECTS/ PERSONAL FINANCES FOR THE NEXT 12 MONTHS
Asia Pacific leads the way in terms of confidence in local job opportunities, with 57 percent of consumers believing prospects to be good/excellent. In North America, where economic growth surpassed expectations in the first quarter, half of respondents believed their job prospects for the next 12 months to be ‘good’ while, in contrast, job prospects in Europe remain bleak.
Back in Asia Pacific, Indians (88%), New Zealanders (85%) and Hong Kong consumers (75%) in particular were the most optimistic about the local job prospects. In Singapore, 6 in 10 expressed positive sentiments towards the job market here in the next 12 months.
When it comes to how we spend our spare cash (after basic living expenses are accounted for) distinct regional spending patterns emerged.
On a global basis, over one third (36%) of the world’s consumers put their spare cash into Savings, followed by Out of Home Entertainment, Holidays/Vacations and New Clothes.
Asians remain the world’s super savers with 51% of consumers putting any spare cash away for a rainy day, with Filipinos topping the list (63%). Singaporeans are amongst the top three super savers in the region, with 58% placing savings as their highest priority. Holidays / vacations ranked second (42%) likely due to the upcoming June school holidays nearing the time of the survey.
“Comparing various markets across the globe, it is interesting to note that in North America, a quarter of consumers said they simply had no spare cash at all after paying basic living expenses, while nearer to home, in Korea, a fifth claimed the same,” commented Ms Santos. “Singapore and Japan’s situations are akin with the regional average, where 9% of the population said they do not have extra cash for spending outside of essential expenses.”
Based on the three dimensions of ‘Job Prospects’, ‘Personal Finances’ and ‘Spending Desires’, ACNielsen has established a Global Consumer Confidence Index designed to compare confidence levels across all markets in the survey. At the top of the Index was India, with a score of 127, followed by New Zealand with 119 and Ireland with 113. At the very bottom of the scale is Korea, scoring an index of 58. Singapore attained a score of 99, which is slightly above the global average of 92.
MAJOR FEARS AND CONCERNS
Globally, consumers’ ranked their major concerns as the Economy (45%), Health (37%) and Job Security (36%)
“The biggest concern for Asians, Europeans and North Americans is the Economy, while Job Security topped the most concerned list for Latin Americans and one third of South Africans cited Crime as their main concern,” said Ms Santos.
Over 60 percent of people in Indonesia, the Philippines and Thailand were most concerned about the Economy. The second major concern for people in Asia Pacific was Job Security (39%) with China, in particular, recording a significant increase in people concerned about their jobs (56% vs. 47% in Oct 2004).
Job security remains to be the concern weighing most heavily on Singapore consumers’ minds (32%), with the overall Economy ranking second (19%).
Health (35%) was a major concern among 55 percent of people in China and showed a significant increase in New Zealand, making NZ the second most concerned nation about health in this round of the survey. Korea (45%), Singapore (33%) and Indonesia (23%) also saw a double-digit increase in people’s concern about their health.
“With ageing populations and a trend for governments to cut back on healthcare, the public are becoming very anxious about their health in many countries,” said Ms Santos. “Pressure is on governments to increase and upgrade public healthcare and facilities, and healthcare will become an even bigger and more serious concern for consumers in the future.”
ACNielsen, a VNU business, is the world's leading marketing information provider. Offering services in more than 100 countries, the unit provides measurement and analysis of marketplace dynamics and consumer attitudes and behavior. Clients rely on ACNielsen's market research, proprietary products, analytical tools and professional service to understand competitive performance, to uncover new opportunities and to raise the profitability of their marketing and sales campaigns. To learn more, visit www.acnielsen.com.
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