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Southeast Asia's digital consumption has a bright future


Recently, social media Meta and Bain & Company jointly released the “Southeast Asia Digital Consumer Report”. Based on a survey of 16,500 consumers and business people in Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam, the report analyzes and evaluates the scale, characteristics and development trends of digital consumption in ASEAN.

1. The growth rate of digital consumer population exceeds expectations

By the end of 2020, Southeast Asia’s digital consumers will exceed 300 million, accounting for 69% of the region’s population over the age of 15, meaning that a goal originally expected to be achieved by 2025 will be achieved five years ahead of schedule. From 2018 to 2020, digital consumers in the region increased by 60 million, with a compound annual growth rate of 12%. 70% of the 443 million people in the six countries that participated in the survey, including Indonesia, are digital consumers, and 96% of them connect to the Internet through smartphones. By 2025, digital consumers in Southeast Asia are expected to increase to 340 million.

Among Southeast Asian countries, Indonesia has the fastest growing digital consumer population among Southeast Asian countries,with an increase of 15% in 2020. The total digital consumer population currently reaches 137 million, accounting for 68% of the country’s total population over the age of 15. The digital consumer group in Malaysia accounts for the largest proportion of the country’s total population aged 15 and above at 83%, followed by Singapore with 79%, the Philippines with 74%, Thailand with 68% and Vietnam with 65%.

2.The scale of online consumption continues to expand

By 2025, digital consumer spending in Southeast Asia will triple from 2020, jumping from $53 billion to $147 billion. Annual online transaction volume per person will increase by 1.5 times from $172 in 2020 to $429 in 2025. The number of high online consumers (one-time consumption of up to 50 US dollars) is growing rapidly. In 2020, the number of high consumers in first-tier cities will increase by 3% compared with 2019, reaching 44%, and the number of high consumers in small cities and townships will increase by 6% , reaching 32%, the gap between the two is narrowing.

Digital consumers in Southeast Asia are not only spending more online, they are also buying a wider variety of goods. In 2020, each digital consumer purchased more than 5 types of goods online, an increase of 40% over last year.

3.Changes in payment methods and consumption habits

The popularity of e-wallets has gradually increased, while other payment methods have begun to decline. In 2020, 22% of consumers cited e-wallets as their preferred payment method, an increase of 8% from last year. At the same time, credit card payments and bank transfers each fell by 1 percentage point, and cash payments fell by 6 percentage points. Cash payment is still the most popular payment method among consumers in Southeast Asia, with 34% of consumers choosing this payment method.

4.The development potential of the Internet economy in this region is huge

At present, there are many e-commerce companies in Southeast Asia, but they are generally in their infancy, and their market share is relatively scattered. The market share of the largest e-commerce platform is 1.7 times that of the second place. In contrast, the market share of Amazon, the No. 1 shopping platform in the United States, is 6.6 times that of the No. 2.  And Alibaba, the No. 1 shopping platform in China, is 3.3 times that of No. 2. This shows that the e-commerce market in Southeast Asia is not yet saturated, and there is a lot of room for brands to develop.

As of the end of last year, private equity and venture capital in Southeast Asia had accumulated uninvested funds of US$8.7 billion, and Internet and technology start-ups, mid-sized and unicorn companies in the region have the opportunity to receive more investment. In the first quarter of this year, private equity and venture capital funds in Southeast Asia reached US$1.4 billion, of which 72% went to the Internet and technology sectors. The new crown pneumonia epidemic has greatly accelerated the development of the digital economy. Emerging Internet industries such as telemedicine, online education, online games, and online entertainment have the most potential. Their breakthrough growth will bring great changes to the traditional industry development model. As the report said, “The era of developing netizens has passed, and the era of cultivating online consumption has just arrived.

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