APAC consumer sentiment remains positive as brands adapt strategies to the digital world

Despite Covid-19 induced lockdown restrictions now being lifted in many parts of the world, the extended time spent confined to the home has had a significant impact on consumers’ shopping habits and their interactions with brands, according to a research conducted by Advanis for Adobe.

The study surveyed 4,001 consumers in selected Asia Pacific (APAC) countries – Australia, China, India and Singapore and 1,200 marketers across China, India, Singapore and Australia between 1 – 17 June 2020.

The survey was released on the sidelines of Adobe Experience Makers Live, a virtual event to help brands adapt to the digital world. Aside from Adobe leaders, brands such as Singapore Tourism Board, MediaCorp and DBS Bank shared insights and learnings for continued customer engagement and recovery.

According to Simon Dale, Managing Director Southeast Asia, Adobe, the outbreak of Covid-19 has accelerated a broad shift in APAC consumer behaviors and attitudes that have been in the making for some time.

“It is clear from the results of the study that brands that are nimble in pivoting to this digital ‘new norm’ will be able to create deep and enduring brand resonance while helping their customers feel truly supported. Marketers will need to pay close attention to their customers and ensure that they adapt their CX strategy to address different groups with relevant messages, more so now than ever,” Dale said.

Covid-19 has impacted consumers’ everyday lives and habits. The survey found that 67 percent expressed concern about the overall impact of the pandemic mainly on personal health at 73 percent, job vulnerability at 40 percent and the economy at 36 percent.

While 95 percent of consumers surveyed are willing to wait out the continued restrictions, only 61 percent agree with the continued lockdown measures, signaling an eagerness to resume life per normal.

Chinese consumers cited the least disagreement with the continued restrictions. Overall, APAC consumers were more willing to wait out restrictions, a stark contrast from consumer sentiment in Japan and the United States (US).

The survey also found a growing social consciousness reflected in the importance consumers placed on staff treatment. Despite this, brands have some way to go – only 54 percent of consumers agree that brands are doing enough to ensure staff wellbeing. Among the younger generation, attitudes are polarised on this issue – Gen Z typically ascribed less importance while Millennials ascribed more importance to treatment of staff.

Nearly three in four consumers found it important for brands to mirror the state of the world in their marketing collaterals in response to Covid-19. China and India consumers were more likely to agree with this sentiment.

Furthermore, there is a general sense that brands have a duty to proactively offer help or provide special offers to customers at this time. This sense of duty among marketers is strongest in China and India at 94 percent, and weakest in Australia at 82 percent.

During the lockdown, 58 percent of consumers increased their online shopping frequency while 74 percent cited an intention to change their future shopping habits – with Indian and Singaporean consumers reporting the strongest intention. Unsurprisingly, younger generations were more likely to cite an intention to change future shopping habits while older generations preferred to maintain status quo.

Despite Covid-19, close 70 percent of consumers reported a preference for purchasing grocery items in person, while 47 percent opted for home delivery, and 17 percent relied on curbside pick-up. Across all product categories, younger generations and urban residents preferred home delivery while the older generation preferred in-person shopping, with the exception of media for the latter. Amongst all countries surveyed, Australian consumers were more likely to favor in-person shopping across all product categories.

It appears that marketers have done a good job at keeping brand sentiment relatively positive during this time – the vast majority of marketers feel that 94 percent of organisational communications have been authentic and 92 percent have resonated with customers.

To respond to these nuances in customer preference, 79 percent of organisations are transforming their long-term strategy in case this period lasts for more than a year, and 82 percent are also changing their approach to future marketing efforts. In fact, marketers in APAC organisations indicated a greater inclination to make long-term changes compared to their counterparts in the US.

The intrinsic value of brands directly addressing Covid-19 in external communications is apparent with 71 percent of marketers report having a Covid-19 task force to manage messaging and campaigns.

For the full reports visit the Adobe website – Consumer Report | Marketer Report.

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