Nielsen: APAC consumers optimistic about economy but remain vigilant. Nielsen

Posted by Lucy Halliday On February 05, 2013

Asia Pacific has the highest consumer confidence in the world
Asia Pacific consumers are at least two times more likely to have ‘spare cash’ than any other region in the world – majority are funnelling excess cash into savings
Thailand recorded the biggest consumer confidence increase in Asia Pacific
The top four most optimistic countries globally are from the Asia Pacific region

Singapore, February 5, 2013 – Consumers in the Asia Pacific region continue to be the most optimistic in the world, as consumer confidence increased in Q4 2012 to 101 index points from 100 points the previous quarter, and increased two index points from 99 in Q4 2011, according to the latest Consumer Confidence Index from Nielsen, a leading global provider of information and insights into what consumers watch and buy.

Nielsen’s latest Global Survey of Consumer Confidence and Spending Intentions found, that across the 14 Asia Pacific countries Nielsen measured in Q4 2012, five saw increases in consumer confidence compared to the previous quarter and confidence fell in the nine remaining markets. India topped the regional (and global) list with a confidence index of 121, a rise of two points from Q3, followed by the Philippines with an increase of one point to 119 and Indonesia at 117, down two points from the prior quarter. Thailand (115) recorded the biggest consumer confidence increase in Asia Pacific (+3 points).

China (108, increase of 2 points) and Malaysia (103, decline of 2 points) rounded out the most optimistic Asia Pacific markets. South Korea scored the lowest confidence in the region dropping two points from Q3 2012 to 38, followed by Japan which held steady with an index of 59.

“With a strong yet varied consumer optimism index across the Asia Pacific region, we are increasingly experiencing a polarized economic environment,” said Therese Glennon, Nielsen APMEA Consumer Insights Leader. “On one hand, there are high population markets with a robust domestic consumption base, such as China, India and Indonesia, who show more resilience to global recession trends and remain optimistic about the future. On the other hand, there are export-dependent developed markets, such as South Korea and Taiwan that are more exposed to precarious global economic conditions.”

The Nielsen study also revealed that consumers in Asia Pacific are at least two times more likely to have spare cash than any other region in the world, with only eight percent of respondents indicating they have no spare cash, compared with other regions such as Europe and North America where 21 percent and 26 percent respectively say they have no spare cash. The majority (58%) of Asia Pacific consumers say that any spare cash after covering essential living expenses is funnelled into savings.

More than half (59%) of online consumers in Asia Pacific considered the state of their personal finances over the next twelve months to be good or excellent, up two percentage points from Q3 2012 and up one percentage point from Q4 2011. Despite an overall increase confidence in personal finances, 59 percent of Asia Pacific respondents said the next 12 months was not a good time to buy things wanted and needed compared to 63 percent globally.

Nielsen’s survey revealed that close to two thirds of Asia Pacific respondents (68%) indicated they had adjusted their spending habits in the past year in an effort to save on household expenditure, down from 72 percent in Q3 2012. A cut back in spending was reported across discretionary and non-discretionary expenses as the majority of respondents said they now spend less on new clothes (49%) and out-of-home entertainment expenses (44%). Forty-two percent looked to save on gas and electricity expenditures and three in ten (29%) switched to cheaper grocery brands.

The Nielsen Global Survey of Consumer Confidence and Spending Intentions, established in 2005, measures consumer confidence, major concerns, and spending intentions among more than 29,000 respondents with Internet access in 58 countries. Consumer confidence levels above and below a baseline of 100 indicate degrees of optimism and pessimism. In the latest round of the survey, conducted between November 10 and November 27, 2012, Asia Pacific was the only region globally to sit above the 100 point benchmark.

To download the full report, click here.

About the Nielsen Global Survey
The Nielsen Global Survey of Consumer Confidence and Spending Intentions was conducted between November 10–27, 2012, and polled more than 29,000 online consumers in 58 countries throughout Asia-Pacific, Europe, Latin America, the Middle East, Africa, and North America. The sample has quotas based on age and sex for each country based on their Internet users, is weighted to be representative of Internet consumers, and has a maximum margin of error of ±0.6%. This Nielsen survey is based on the behaviour of respondents with online access only. Internet penetration rates vary by country. Nielsen uses a minimum reporting standard of 60-percent Internet penetration or 10M online population for survey inclusion. The China Consumer Confidence Index is compiled from a separate mixed methodology survey among 3,500 respondents in China. The Nielsen Global Survey, which includes the Global Consumer Confidence Index, was established in 2005.

About Nielsen
Nielsen Holdings N.V. (NYSE: NLSN) is a global information and measurement company with leading market positions in marketing and consumer information, television and other media measurement, online intelligence, mobile measurement, trade shows, and related properties. Nielsen has a presence in approximately 100 countries, with headquarters in New York, USA, and Diemen, the Netherlands. For more information, visit

Lucy Halliday