Mood of consumers in Thailand and Indonesia on the upswing: Credit Suisse Emerging Consumer Survey

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The mood amongst Thai consumers is surprisingly encouraging compared to our impression on various macro-economic indicators, according to the latest consumer survey launched by the Credit Suisse Research Institute, which looked at Thailand for the first time. 
MAY 16, 2019 - 3:33 PM

The mood amongst Thai consumers is surprisingly encouraging compared to our impression on various macro-economic indicators, according to the latest consumer survey launched by the Credit Suisse Research Institute, which looked at Thailand for the first time. 

Specifically, 63 per cent of respondents think it is an excellent/good time to make a major purchase. This optimism is also reflected in the fact that Thailand has the highest level of household car ownership (84 per cent) among all the emerging market countries surveyed.

The Emerging Markets Consumer Survey is in its ninth edition;  over 1,538 respondents across nine locations was interviewed for the Thailand component specifically.

Dan Fineman, co-head of equity strategy, Asia Pacific and head of research for Thailand said: “Our survey shows Thai consumers have greatly increased internet access via smartphones. They are among the most active users globally of social media, streaming and gaming, but they still lag on shopping and banking. With a high mobile internet access rate of 91 per cent, we believe consumer engagement in e-commerce and e-finance could accelerate rapidly. The ongoing entry of global ecommerce players and the government's push for cashless transactions could act as catalysts."

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Beyond this shift from offline to online, there is also a notable shift in consumption patterns, namely a move from durables to non-durables, cash-based to non-cash payments and from eat-out to dine-in options. 

Over in Indonesia, survey results show that a much higher percentage of Indonesian consumers are planning for property and car purchases. 

There is also a higher focus on personal appearance, with the usage and intention of purchasing cosmetics, perfumes and fashion rising to much higher levels compared to previous surveys. 

Specifically, 64 per cent of consumers indicated they are planning to purchase fashion apparel this year compared with 39 per cent recorded in last year's survey. This is the highest level since 2012. In conjunction with this, 74 per cent (the highest ever level) of consumers plan to spend more on cosmetics (54.8 per cent) and skin care (45.2 per cent). The survey also found that 52 per cent of consumers plan to purchase perfume in the next 12 months versus 36 per cent last year. 

In terms of property and car purchases, 16 per cent of respondents plan to purchase a car within the next 12 months compared to 10 per cent last year. In terms of intention to purchase property over the next two years, 36 per cent expressed an intention versus 19 per cent last year. 

The Emerging Consumer Survey also looked at the fortunes of consumers across Brazil, China, India, Mexico, Russia, and Turkey. 

Overall, India topped the sentiment scorecard supported by positive income characteristics. China ranked third, although its standing has slipped a notch, displaying the weakest income
expectations. Real wages in China are currently increasing at their slowest pace for seven years.

The most notable and positive regional development this year has been a rapid improvement in consumer sentiment in Latin America. Following a major political upheaval in Brazil and Mexico, this year's survey sees consumers recording the highest
levels of confidence in their personal financial outlook since the start of the survey.