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EMs more open to new technology, innovations: Nielsen

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From left: Moderator David Kuo with panel discussion speakers Jan Moller, Prof Ng Yew Kwang, Joseph Liow and Garick Kea. Among the points covered included the market economy and the threat of robotics use.

Singapore

WHILE many may assume that advanced economies in the Asia-Pacific region would be more receptive towards new innovations and technologies, a study by market researcher Nielsen suggests that the opposite holds true.

Nielsen's volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity (VUCA) index measures market adoption and readiness for disruptive innovation, new product introduction and behavioural change across 10 markets in the Asia-Pacific (Apac) region.

These include emerging Apac economies Indonesia, China, India, Thailand and Vietnam, and advanced Apac economies Taiwan, South Korea, Japan, Singapore and Australia.

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Nielsen found that all developing countries surveyed had a higher VUCA score compared to their developed counterparts. In all, Singapore ranked seventh overall and second among developed economies, after Taiwan.

On why consumers in advanced economies were more conservative, Nielsen's executive director of consumer insights Garick Kea said: "Developed market consumers have a lot more to 'lose' compared to developing markets. Privacy concerns are more apparent among advanced Asia-Pacific countries and the same countries also have older populations."

In terms of advertising credibility, Nielsen found that consumers from the advanced Apac region tend to be more sceptical towards advertising, with close to 1 in 2 feeling that advertisements are not trustworthy or credible, in contrast with 1 in 10 from the emerging economies.

Mr Kea said: "The more developed countries are generally more sceptical of advertising but unsurprisingly, advanced Apac countries find credibility in print advertisements to be higher than social media advertisements, unlike developing countries where social media advertisements are viewed as more credible."

The study also found that high VUCA customers tend to skew to being between 25 and 44 years of age, are mid to high income earners, university graduates and are married.

Mr Kea shared some of these findings at the BT Outlook 2019 seminar on Friday at Marina Bay Sands, where he presented his outlook for 2019.

He said: "Consumer confidence in the Asia-Pacific region has been relatively flat in recent years and likely to continue into 2019." He added that Apac consumers were more bullish than all but American consumers.

For the second quarter of 2018, Singapore consumers spent a third of their monthly budget on food and beverages, the highest proportion in Asia. They were most likely to use spare funds on holidays and personal investments.

In terms of connectivity, Singaporeans use an average of 3.7 different types of devices like laptops, smartphones and tablets.

Mr Kea said: "Singapore is only behind China (4.1 devices), India (3.9 devices) and Australia (3.8 devices). Of the markets, Japan is the least connected with a routine usage of just 2.4 different device types."

Singaporeans have the highest routine usage of desktops and laptops (87.6 per cent) and smartphones for Internet connectivity (91.2 per cent).

As such, it isn't a surprise then that Singapore is ahead in social media penetration among advanced economies. The penetration rate of 84.6 per cent is higher than all advanced economies in Asia other than Taiwan, which has a social media penetration rate of 89.1 per cent. However, the figure still pales in comparison to emerging regional economies, where over 90 per cent of consumers use social media.

The second day of BT's Outlook 2019 seminar kicked off last Friday with Joseph Liow, dean of the S Rajaratnam School of International Studies, presenting his economic outlook for 2019. Nanyang Technological University Economics professor Ng Yew Kwang and Rachel Lim, co-founder of local fashion label Love, Bonito were also among the speakers.

The seminar ended with a panel discussion among the speakers, who were joined by Global Blue chief executive officer (CEO) Jan Moller with moderator David Kuo, CEO of Motley Fool Singapore.

Among the points covered included issues related to the market economy, the threat of robotics use, the abuse of big data and how international travel is impacting local businesses.

The two-day seminar was organised by The Business Times and supported by Canon and NTUC's U SME.