Confidence Remains Subdued in Hong Kong and Across
Hong Kong, 19 December, 2002 - Continued
economic uncertainty in the region in the past
six months has led the majority of consumers in
Asia Pacific to believe that recovery from the
global recession is at least another twelve to
eighteen months away, according the latest results
from the ACNielsen Consumer Confidence survey
conducted earlier this month.
Compared to the last survey conducted in July
2002, regional consumers have prolonged the effects
of the global recession by another six months.
ACNielsen's consumer confidence poll is an online
survey of over 9,800 consumers in 13 Asia Pacific
"Economic uncertainty and concern over terrorism
and war have had a one-two punch effect on consumer
optimism in the region. With an absence of consistent
positive news, people's expectations for recovery
are in a holding pattern," said Frank Martell,
President, ACNielsen, Asia Pacific.
Survey results reveal that Hong Kong consumers
rank among the most pessimistic in the region
and most people do not expect recovery until the
first quarter of 2004. Japanese consumers also
rated among the most pessimistic in the region
with 29% saying they 'don't know' when their decade-long
recession will finally end, and 19% thinking they
will have to wait until 2006 or beyond. "In
Japan, we see a growing expectation of a permanent
recession," observed Mr. Martell.
While Southeast Asian markets have been particularly
impacted by recent terrorism-related events in
past months, respondents in every Asia Pacific
country registered a dramatic increase in concern
for both terrorism and impending war in the next
six months. Respondents in Australia and New Zealand
are the most concerned.
With the exception of Australia and New Zealand,
consumers across the region are holding onto their
purse strings and have generally been spending
less on lifestyle activities. "Many consumers
have cut back on expenses such as spending less
on their social life, going out less and even
taking taxis less. With no clear indication on
when the economy will improve, consumers are spending
more cautiously than ever before," said Mr.
Martell. "Consumers remain tightfisted for
the foreseeable future."
In the last six months, Hong Kong consumers have
not increased spending on any aspect of their
lifestyle and instead have cut back expenditure
in some areas rather significantly.
75% of local consumers say they spent less on
luxury items compared to six months ago, and 68%
spent less on going out. 64% spent less on holidays.
And even expenditure on small ticket items have
been scaled back - 58% say they are taking taxis
less, and 53% are going to the movies less than
they did six months ago.
Needless to say, the gloomy economic climate has
impacted spending on major investments and purchases
as well. Many Hong Kong consumers have deferred
taking an extended holiday, the purchase of new
desktop or laptop PC as well as holding off investments
in the stock market. Moreover in the last six
months, 64% of consumers in Hong Kong said they
did not make any major purchase at all.
Are these spending patterns continuing into the
new year? While consumers are not expected to
open their wallets generously, there are some
indications that consumers plan to purchase some
items they have been deferring, or perhaps been
saving up for.
"Survey results indicate that the most popular
buys for 2003 will be digital cameras, PC's and
mobile phones," said Mr. Martell.
31% of consumers say they are looking to purchase
a new digital camera in the next months. 29% of
consumers are looking to purchase a new desktop
or laptop PC, and 35% are looking to upgrade to
a new mobile phone which offers greater functionality.
23% hope to make some investment in the equities,
perhaps good news for the stock market.
These popular items on Hong Kongers shopping list
for the next six months are similar across Asia.
The hottest item on Santa's wish list this Christmas
would have to be a new digital camera - with over
a quarter of all consumers in the region planning
to purchase one in the next six months. Regional
survey results also show that around one in four
regional consumers are also looking to upgrade
their mobile phones and one in ten are looking
to get broadband Internet connection.
The ACNielsen Asia Pacific Consumer Confidence
Poll is a regular syndicated online consumer survey,
gathering information from regular users of the
Internet across Asia Pacific on their attitudes
and preferences and consumption of media, products
and services across different markets. Clients
can insert specific questions as required.