Special Session Summary Lifestyle Research, Macro Trends and Consumer Behaviour in Asia

This session provided insights into lifestyle research, macro trends and consumer behaviour in Asian countries, with a focus on Singapore. The first paper presented the lifestyle clusters in Asian countries, in particular, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan and Thailand. The second paper analyzed the results of a large-scale representative survey of Singaporeans, which was conducted to examine lifestyle patterns of Singaporeans. Seven clusters of Singaporeans were identified. Quality of life (QOL) in Singapore, which was measured as satisfaction with life in general, and satisfaction with life in Singapore, was discussed in the third paper. The session’s fourth paper, provided an understanding of the growing importance of the service sector in Asia. This is followed by the fifth paper on Myanmar, an emerging consumer market. The session concluded with an examination of the trends in Singapore from an economic, demographic and cultural as well as a marketing and consumer behaviour perspective.



Citation:

Jochen Wirtz (1998) ,"Special Session Summary Lifestyle Research, Macro Trends and Consumer Behaviour in Asia", in AP - Asia Pacific Advances in Consumer Research Volume 3, eds. Kineta Hung and Kent B. Monroe, Provo, UT : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 1-3.

Asia Pacific Advances in Consumer Research Volume 3, 1998      Pages 1-3

SPECIAL SESSION SUMMARY

LIFESTYLE RESEARCH, MACRO TRENDS AND CONSUMER BEHAVIOUR IN ASIA

Jochen Wirtz, National University of Singapore, Singapore

This session provided insights into lifestyle research, macro trends and consumer behaviour in Asian countries, with a focus on Singapore. The first paper presented the lifestyle clusters in Asian countries, in particular, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan and Thailand. The second paper analyzed the results of a large-scale representative survey of Singaporeans, which was conducted to examine lifestyle patterns of Singaporeans. Seven clusters of Singaporeans were identified. Quality of life (QOL) in Singapore, which was measured as satisfaction with life in general, and satisfaction with life in Singapore, was discussed in the third paper. The session’s fourth paper, provided an understanding of the growing importance of the service sector in Asia. This is followed by the fifth paper on Myanmar, an emerging consumer market. The session concluded with an examination of the trends in Singapore from an economic, demographic and cultural as well as a marketing and consumer behaviour perspective.

 

THE CLUSTERING OF ASIA: A LOOK OF LIFESTYLE CLUSTERS IN ASIAN COUNTRIES

Tan Soo Jiuan, National University of Singapore

Kwon Jung, National University of Singapore

Kau Ah Keng, National University of Singapore

Jochen Wirtz, National University of Singapore

Lifestyle research, which originated in the United States, has since diffused to other parts of the world as marketers realized that it can be used to derive convenient descriptive tools of their target market segments. While many are familiar with the American lifestyle categories such as the Actualizers, the Strivers, the Makers, and the Strugglers, what do we know about the clusters in Asia? Are there common clusters across Asian countries such that we can establish an "Asianstyles" similar to the "Eurostyles" (Mazanec, 1993) common across 15 European countries?

As the frst step towards exploring the existence of an "Asianstyles", this study surveys lifestyle clusters derived in Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan and Thailand. These countries are chosen to reflect the diversity of cultures and economic development in the Asian region.

In Japan, the Dentsu Consumer Value Survey derived four lifestyle clusters: "Achievers", "Intelligent", "Group Merit", and "Membership Dependent" (Suzuki, 1990) based on attitudes towards changes and norms in life. In addition, to take care of the changing lifestyle in Japan, specific clusters such as "the New Teenager", "the New Singles", "the New Jitsunen (those in their 50s and 60s) and "the New Rich" were identified. In Malaysia, the Survey Research Group (SRG) identified seven clusters: "Yesterday People", "Village Trendsetters", "Chameleon", "Loners", "the new Breed", "Yuppies" and "Sleepwalkers". There are also seven clusters in Singapore but they are quite different from the seven clusters found in neighbouring Malaysia: "Aspirer", "Pragmatist", "Entrepreneur", "Independent", "New Age Family Oriented", "Traditional Family Oriented", and "Materialist". In Taiwan, eight clusters were derived by SRG: "The Traditional Homebodies", "The Confident Traditionalists", "The Family-Centered Fatalists", "The Lethargic", "The Middle-Class Hopefuls", "The Discontented Moderns", "The Rebellious Young", and "The Young Strivers". Finally, in Thailand, it was found that there are altogether nine distinct segments: "Today’s Women", "The Comfortable Middle Class". "We Got The Blues", "Mainstream Belongers", "Young Achievers", "Young At Heart", "Trying To Make It", "The Left Outs", and "Almost".

Since the clusters are meant as convenient descriptive tools for market segments, the diversity in labels given to the various clusters in these Asian countries speak volumes about the underlying differences in attitudes, traits and values of the target segments. Some of these clusters bear the labels with a western flavour, for example the "We Got The Blues" group in Thailand, and "The New Age Family Oriented" group in Singapore. Others are distinctly eastern in flavour, for example, the "Village Trendsetters" group in Malaysia and the "Family-Centered Fatalists" group in Taiwan. However, on closer examination of the descriptive characteristics of these clusters, one can also determine underlying values, attitudes and traits that link some of these Asian societies together. For instance, traditional values versus westernized values and attitudes, and ethnic-based social and moral norms are dominant features in the descriptors of clusters in these Asian countries.

The countries included in this survey are not exhaustive of all countries in Asia, but the observations derived from the survey provide important marketing implications. Marketers from the West should realize that the same cluster label used at home may describe very different people in Asia. They should realize that there is no single set of cluster labels which can be used across all consumers in Asia. In carrying out psychographic marketing in these Asian countries, marketers should bear in mind the cultural and economic context in which the clusters are derived. Finally, this study provides further insights into the behaviour of Asian consumers, adding to an increasing stream of research on the topic. (e.g., Tan and Farley, 1987; Tse, Belk and Zhou, 1989).

 

THE SEVEN FACES OF SINGAPOREANS: A TYPOLOGY OF SINGAPORE CONSUMERS FROM A LIFESTYLE STUDY

Kwon Jung, National University of Singapore

Jochen Wirtz, National University of Singapore

Kau Ah Keng, National University of Singapore

Tan Soo Jiuan, National University of Singapore

A large-scale representative survey of Singaporeans was conducted to examine lifestyle patterns of Singaporeans. Factor and cluster anlyses were performed to identify meaningful subgroups of Singaporeans using lifestyle and value measures, and discriminant analysis was conducted to differentiate the clusters in terms of key demographic variables. First, the underlying dimensions of the Singaporeans’ value system were identified using factor analysis. Based on 55 lifestyle and value items, six factors were obtained. They were (1) family value oriented, (2) entrepreneurial sprit oriented, (3) status oriented, (4) traditional value oriented, (5) materialism oriented, and (6) society oriented factors. These six factors were then utilized to identify clusters. The cluster analysis identified the following seven major clusters of Singaporeans: (1) traditional family oriented, (2) new age family oriented, (3) entrepreneurs, (4) aspires, (5) materialists, (6) pragmatists, and (7) independents. To examine whether the identified clusters could be differentiated in terms of key demographic variables, discriminant analysis was conducted. The results showed that the clusters were also meaningfully differentiated based on demographic variables.

 

A DEMOGRAPHIC ANALYSIS OF LIFE SATISFACTION IN SINGAPORE.

Kau Ah Keng, National University of Singapore

Tan Soo Jiuan, National University of Singapore

Jochen Wirtz, National University of Singapore

Studies of quality of life (QOL) have received greater attention over the last decade or so. Issues relating to this topic have been of interest to researchers from a variety of disciplines such as economics, sociology, psychology, political science, city planning and more recently, marketing. However, the concept of quality of life has been "elusive" as there is no consensus on exactly what it means, how it should be defined, and how the indicators should be constructed (McCall 1975). In this study, QOL will be measured as satisfaction with life in general and satisfaction with life in Singapore in particular.

This presentation is drawn from data originated from a larger study on the values, aspirations and lifestyles of Singaporeans. A sample of 1,525 respondents aged 15 and above was interviewed in mid-1996. About 52% of them were females and teenagers constituted about 22% of the sample. About half of the respondents were married. They also came from different religious backgrounds. About 40% of them were either Buddhists or Taoist while 18% of them possessed Christian faith. The rest were made up of Muslims and people of other faiths.

The survey results confirmed that Singaporeans on the whole were satisfied with life overall. About 13% of them were very satisfied with life, 50% were satisfied and 23% were somewhat satisfied. In terms of relationships with family members, they were more satisfied with children (89%), followed by parents (78%), marriage or romance (77%), and siblings (73%). In terms of satisfaction with oneself, they were generally satisfied with their health (70%) and less so with their physical appearance (57%). In general, they expressed lower levels of satisfaction with other aspects of life, such as job (60%), material comfort (56%), studies (53%) and money (44%). There were no significant differences between men and women in life satisfaction. However, differences were observed among the three main ethnic groups in their satisfaction with life. For instance, Malays were more satisfied with life than Chinese. Life satisfaction was also noted to be higher among the lower educated but slightly lower among the lower income group.

In terms of satisfaction with life in Singapore, it was noted that about 94% of them were at least somewhat satisfied. For the different domains of life in Singapore, they were generally satisfied with the level of safety and security (97%), public services (96%), cleanliness (96%), quality of law enforcement (94%) and public transport (93%). They were dissatisfied or very dissatisfied with the cost of living (17%) and the affordability of cars/properties (35%). Demographically, overall satisfaction with life in Singapore did not vary between females and males. In terms of age, rspondents in the twenties were less satisfied compared with other age groups. Those with primary education were noted to be more satisfied with life in Singapore than those with higher education. As far as income is concerned, those earning a monthly income of $2000 to $3000 were less satisfied. They registered a satisfaction level of only 57% compared to 61%-62% for the others.

In conclusion, this paper reports mainly the satisfaction with life in general and satisfaction with life in Singapore. Some demographic differences observed were also noted. For future research, it would also be useful to analyze if satisfaction with life varies among people with different levels of materialism and commitment to different value systems.

 

SERVICES IN ASIABMACRO TRENDS

Lee Meng Chung, National University of Singapore

Jochen Wirtz, National University of Singapore

Anna Mattila, Cornell University

Recent years have seen the growing importance of services in Asia, which is clearly indicated by the rising proportion of the service sector in their GDP. Hong Kong, Singapore, Japan, China and Taiwan have service sectors representing more than 50% of their GDP. Hong Kong, Singapore, India and Japan also have more than 60% of their workers engaged in the service sector.

Several factors attributed to the astronomical growth in the Asian services sector. These include the outsourcing of non-core activities by companies as a tool to improve their competitive position. The out-sourcing of non-core activities by companies perpetuates the number of service firms in Asia, which handled out-sourced service activities such as data processing and routine programming. Deregulation by Asian governments also added to the growth in the Asian services sector. This is reflected by the liberalisation of telecommunication services by countries such as Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore, which resulted in the emergence of fast growing markets and more service providers. Rapid development of information technology and globalization of competition in services offer other explanations for the growth in Asian services sector. In the light of the trend towards a service economy, the paper also assesses the implications for a large service sector on a country’s well-being. It is argued that service economy will increase its degree of division of labour and specialization. This is because intense competition among service providers will result in firms specializing in specific services in order to be more efficient and to save costs. The paper concludes that the trend toward service economies is inevitable in Asia.

 

MYANMAR: CONSUMERS OF A NEW ASEAN MARKET

May Lwin, National University of Singapore

Anthony Pecotich, University of Western Australia

Recently admitted to the ASEAN organization, Myanmar is a promising market of about 45 million consumers. While some may argue that the economic reforms have been slow and unstable, Myanmar is generating interest as it is one of the region’s least exploited nation.

Myanmar was under British colonial rule since 1885. In 1962, the military took over power and introduced "the Burmese Way to Socialism," which left Myanmar in a state of self-imposed isolation. The State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC) took over the government in 1988 and attempted drive the economy more by market forces, a move which has resulted in increasing foreign trade and investment. Observers have noted some signs of increasing affluence such as an increasing number of cars, widened roads, new buildings, stores stacked with imported goods, more sophisticated advertisements, and the appearance of satellite dishes.

The Myanmar society has developed from centuries of agricultural way of life, in which the village and the family were the controlling units. The economic, cultural and demographic environment has a bearing on the consumer behavior of the people. Consumers an be roughly divided into the Upper Class, and the much larger Lower Class. They tend to be selective, tending to prefer well known and familiar labels. They are also well informed of the outside world.

Most products are quite easily purchased in Myanmar, at a price. Imported products, and a wide variety of local products are also available, some of which are direct imitations of foreign goods. Prices fluctuate, sometimes daily, according to the erratic supply situation. The official exchange varies widely from black market rates. Two types of distribution outlets, government-run stores and small private bazaars, have existed. Recently, there has been systematic entry of larger trading houses cum stores as well as provision shops.

The major media are state owned. There is a wide number of private publicationsBmainly feature magazines, comics, cartoons and novels. The Myanmar Television and Radio Department is in charge of radio and television broadcasting. The News and Periodicals Corporation publishes and distributes newspapers, period-icals, books and other literature. There are only three newspapers in the country and over 20 cinemas in Yangon. Billboards are also a popular advertising medium. There is an overall lack of regulation on advertising claims.

The potential for marketing of foreign products does exists in Myanmar, where people are aware of Western brands and are anxious to purchase them provided the price is suitable. However, managers should be aware of the risk factors involved in marketing in Myanmar.

 

TRENDS IN CONSUMER MARKETING IN SINGAPORE: 1998 UPDATE AND EXTENSION.

Jochen Wirtz, National University of Singapore

Lee Meng Chung, National University of Singapore

This paper provides an updated analysis of the trends in Singapore from an economic, demographic and cultural as well as a marketing and consumer behaviour perspective (an earlier version will be published in Wirtz (1998). The economic environment in Singapore is expected to continue to be favorable with sustained increases in personal income, virtually full employment and low inflation rates. Demographic trends followed those of more developed nations with low population growth, rapid aging and smaller household sizes. Singapore has a multi-cultural society with three main races; Chinese, Malay and Indians. These cultural clusters will remain distinct. Education levels continue to improve rapidly with more Singaporeans receiving university and post secondary education.

Trends in consumption behavior reflect the need for products with higher quality and sophistication, showing that Singaporeans have become more brand, status and quality oriented. Increasing demand for fitness and health clubs, as well as for health food, indicates that Singaporeans are also becoming more health conscious. There is also an increase in the demand for new services such as internet banking and internet shopping. This reflects the growing sophistication of Singaporean shoppers and their needs for time-saving and convenient products as a result of the competitive economic environment. Most of the trends in consumption behaviour are direct reflections of the economic environment. Trends in consumption behaviour also indicate that marketers can concentrate on growth strategies in the higher end market segments.

Trends in the marketing mix are reflected and/or are shaped by changes in the macro environment. High quality and specialist type goods will grow fast and as a result, specialist retailers will grow in number and size. The role of advertising in the marketing mix will become even more important as the importance of branding continues to increase. Implications for marketing strategies are identified.

The above describe the medium to long term trends in consumer marketing in Singapore. However, over the past seven months, Asia has suddenly been plunged into turmoil due to the plummeting of Asian currencies, equity and property markets. This also has affected Singapore, because of its close integration wit the neighbouring countries. In the short term, these developments are bound to also affect the Singapore consumer market. Singaporeans are expected to be more prudent in their spending, and may therefore cut down on buying luxury goods and discretionary items.

REFERENCES

Mazanec, Josef A. (1993), "Exporting Eurostyles to the USA", International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management, 5 (4), 3-9.

McCall, S. (1975), "Quality of Life", Social Indicators Research, 2, 229-248.

Suzuki, Hiroe (1990), "Japanese Life-style, Life Models and Application to Creative Concepts", ESOMAR Conference on America, Japan and EC #92: The Prospects for Marketing, Advertising and Research, Italy, 18-20 June 1990.

Tan, Chin Tiong and John U. Farley (1987), "The Impact of Cultural Patterns on Cognition and Intention in Singapore", Journal of Consumer Research, 13, 540-544.

Tse, David K., Russell W. Belk and Nan Zhou (1989), "Becoming a Consumer Society: A Longitudinal and Cross-Cultural Content Analysis of Print Ads from Hong Kong, the People’s Republic of China and Taiwan", Journal of Consumer Research, 15 (March), 457-472.

Jochen Wirtz (1998), "Singapore: An Analysis of Changes in the Marketing Environment and Their Implications for Marketing Management," in Marketing and Consumer Behavior in East and Southeast Asia, Anthony Pecotich and Clifford J. Schultz, eds. New York: McGraw Hill.

Ah Keng Kau, Tan Soo Jiuan and Jochen Wirtz (1998), Seven Faces of SingaporeansBTheir Values, Aspirations and Lifestyles, Singapore: Prentice Hall.

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Authors

Jochen Wirtz, National University of Singapore, Singapore



Volume

AP - Asia Pacific Advances in Consumer Research Volume 3 | 1998



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