How the New Normal is affecting attitudes of Asian consumers
Asian consumers have shifting attitudes towards socially-acceptable norms, which has far-reaching impact on consumer companies doing business in Asia, says the latest overview report from Trend Watching.
There are four key trends: an increasing female workforce, wider Internet penetration, growth in urban populations, and increased desire to travel.
Altogether, these trends are extremely favorable for travel brands seeking expanded share in the APAC region.
Increased female buying power
As more females enter the workforce – from 51% to 58% participation in Singapore in the 2003-2013 timeframe, for example – their buying power increases. This means that more females will have greater disposable incomes to spend on luxury items such as travel, as well as an increasing professionalism that offers new ways to explore the world.
This trend plays out all over Asia:
Growth in urban populations + internet
The combination of these two trends is the most powerful, as it brings more urbanites into the travel fold. With greater access to other cultures nearby in urban areas, the desire to travel is easily influenced.
The availability and utility of wider internet access also affects the needs of the mobile traveler. As Asian urbanites continue to enjoy some of the greatest connectivity, travel brands have the ability to push the boundaries for digital travel offerings. The Asian consumer is primed to use digital devices as primary consumption and booking tools.
This push into urban living also redefines the traditional gender roles for many men, as the urban culture focuses more on image and conspicuous consumption regardless of gender. An example used in the study is Korean Air’s recent “Image Making for Service Men” event, where the company trained newly-minted male flight attendants on image, make-up and other facial maintenance techniques.
As the internationalization of the travel industry collides with the growing sophistication of an urban traveling population, new standards challenge old paradigms in the travel industry on the continent. Staff must be hired and trained to reflect the growing diversity, and acceptance of differences, that define the “new normal” in a very tradition-bound region.
Culturally, staff are also expecting an evolved internal culture that reflect the way they live their lives outside of work. Travel brands relying on Asian staffs must consider what this rapid evolution means for company culture.
Growing wealth = more travel
The rapid acceleration in wealth amongst APAC countries – especially with the growing middle class in China and India – has revealed massively lucrative demographic opportunities for travel brands serving those customers.
For example, Amadeus & Oxford Economics estimated in April of this year that Indian outbound travel will spike from 4.5 million people (2011) to 70 million by 2030 – and that’s just India.
The necessity for travel brands to play in this space is a foregone conclusion – the question is: what brand will develop a continent-wide strategy that allows for economies of scale while leaving enough room for country-specific product and pricing tweaks to appeal to the growing class of mobile, middle-class professionals with a thirst to see the world beyond the home country?
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