Digital consumers turn to social media to discover new products, study shows

This year alone, over 40% of Malaysian shoppers have tried an online store they have never heard of

by S BIRRUNTHA/ pic by ARIF KARTONO

ABOUT 58% of Malaysian consumers learn about new products and brands via social media, in line with the nation’s shift towards digital consumption and online engagement.

Based on a new study by Facebook and Bain & Co, many digital consumers today possess purchasing habits that are largely driven by inspiration and openness to discovery.

The study found that most of the time, consumers do not know exactly what they want when they shop online, therefore, they would “look around,” creating a browsing behaviour which is fuelling the future of digital spending.

The study also found that Malaysia has a fragmented market when it comes to shopping via official websites, which allows companies to win customer loyalty.

About 48% of Malaysian consumers do not necessarily wait for sales or promotions when shopping online, as they buy whenever they want.

While discounts and promotions on e-commerce platforms can help acquire new customers, it does not necessarily promote loyalty among shoppers, the study said.

Facebook Malaysia’s country MD Nicole Tan (picture) said in the current scenario, there is no longer just one way to shop and nobody shops the same way twice.

“Designing for discovery is absolutely crucial given that customers engage with a business through multiple channels simultaneously. In Malaysia alone, 70% of the respondents said they are either open to other brands or will buy from multiple brands when shopping online.

“This means businesses of all sizes, including specialty players have a significant opportunity to compete on a larger scale in South-East Asia,” she said during the “Facebook and Bain Study on E-Commerce in South-East Asia” presentation yesterday.

Additionally, the study also said increasing choices, better Internet access, and rising affluence will continue to drive more online spending in the region.

This year alone, over 40% of Malaysian consumers have tried an online store they have never heard of in the past year.

The top three reasons for making an online purchase were positive reviews from other users, good deals or promotions and interesting products.

Beyond discovery, the study demonstrated the immense potential to build brand loyalty and growth as there is no dominant player in the e-commerce market.

South-East Asia’s savvy consumers shop-hop across 3.8 platforms on average before they make a purchase decision.

Bain & Co partner Gwendolyn Lim said brands today need to be very savvy and reimagine their marketing and trade spend to be in sync with the ever-evolving omnichannel consumer journey.

“Brands that want to win in the ever-evolving omnichannel consumer journey need to understand what customers are looking for in their category.

“They will have to work to solve needs and pain points, and customise loyalty to differentiate themselves, all while delivering with consistency,” Lim said.

According to Bain & Co, from 90 million digital consumers in 2015, the region grew 2.8 times to 250 million digital consumers last year. By 2025, there will be 310 million digital consumers in South-East Asia.

By then, the study estimates that online spending will outpace the growth of digital consumers by a factor of three, with clothing and personal care emerging as two of the leading categories.

The study surveyed 12,965 respondents across Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam, and interviewed over 30 CEOs and venture capitalists in the region.

It showed that the emerging middle class in South-East Asia will account for 70% to 80% of the growth in digital consumers by 2025.