Grey Group study says Asians are optimistic of the future, despite uncertainties

By afaqs! news bureau , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Advertising | November 02, 2009
Eye on Asia, a study by Grey Group Asia Pacific, surveyed respondents from 16 markets, exploring attitudes about work, family, finances, environment and their value systems

Grey Group Asia Pacific has released the Eye on Asia study for 2009. A proprietary initiative of the Grey Group, the study aims to determine the underlying trends and human truths that will shape branding and communications.

Eye on Asia is based on Grey Group's 'Eye on Australia' study, which is now in its 18th year.

& #BANNER1 & #The study looks at three areas of life for Asians - lifestyle, present and future aspirations, and consumerism and communications. In its fourth year, the study has identified a series of 'eye sights' -- Optimism, Consistently Inconsistent, Future Finance and Chief Family Officers (CFO) - that, it says, are critical focus points for business owners and marketers.

Newer 'eye sights' will be unveiled through the year.

"The study offers new building blocks, which are a starting point to approach any marketing and communication task for brands across categories," says Bindu Sethi, national planning director, Grey Group.

The survey, conducted early this year, interviewed over 33,000 people from Australia, Bangladesh, China, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam.

Less than 500 respondents, in the age group of 18-65 years, were interviewed in each country.

"In India, interviews were conducted in Mumbai and Delhi. About 43 per cent of the samples belonged to the less affluent part of the society," Sethi says.

Under the first 'eye sight' - Optimism, the study reveals that 76 per cent of Asians think that the future is likely to be better than the past; 63 per cent are satisfied with their present life.

However, of the 76 per cent, only 30 per cent Asians are strongly optimistic of the future. The level of optimism is most pronounced in Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Vietnam; while Japan seems to be the least positive, with only seven per cent expressing confidence in the days to come.

The study further says that while the overall level of satisfaction with life has remained consistent.

In the Consistently Inconsistent category, the study has divided Asians on the basis of how they think, feel and react to brands, which, it says, would make possible for marketers to better connect with the "fickle and demanding consumer".

The study identified five 'Asian Brand Tribes'.

The 'new brand enjoyers', who like experimenting with new brands and are not necessarily brand loyal, comprise 21 per cent of the respondents. Respondents from India, Bangladesh and China featured in this group.

The 'perceived value seekers', who form 23 per cent of the respondents, look for added value, emotional connection and reliability. The Philippines, Sri Lanka, Taiwan and Malaysia featured in this group.

Of the respondents, 21 per cent are 'individualistic believers', who have high standards on above of which they stamp their individual tastes, says the study. Respondents in this 'tribe' came from Japan, Hong Kong and Singapore.

The fourth 'tribe' - 'status seekers' chase top brands and need assurance and endorsement that they are getting the best. This group comprised 19 per cent of the total respondents, who were mainly from Thailand, Korea and Japan.

The final tribe 'functions first' are seen as practical and pragmatic and are attracted to quality and durability. This group consisted of 16 per cent of the respondents, mainly from New Zealand and Australia.

The third 'eye sight' -- Future Finance -- looked into the financial habits of the respondents.

The study elicits little surprise, when it finds that 98 per cent of Asians consider financial security to be very important to them. The results further show that 46 per cent of Asians are very concerned about their household finances; while 25 per cent think that the situation ahead will get worse before it gets better, especially in the case of Taiwan and Japan, where the majority remains less optimistic.

The recent economic meltdown has had telling effects. For example, in India, expectations of improved household finances have dropped from 71 per cent in 2008 to 48 per cent in 2009. The number of Indians, who expect their personal finances to get worse, has doubled in the last year.

The final 'eye sight' interestingly refers to Asian mothers as 'Chief Family Officers'. Grey has coined the term to describe mothers, due to the multiple roles a woman plays in the family.

The study says that if given a choice, mothers would prefer staying home and be part of their children's growing-up years. There are others who say that a career helps to maintain "sanity" and is a break from motherhood.

According to the study, 62 per cent of Asian mothers are satisfied with their role as mothers; while 81 per cent think they are so busy that they do not spend enough time with their children.

While 89 per cent of Asians think it is essential for mothers to work and contribute to the family finances, given the economic condition; 76 per cent see themselves capable of taking care of the family while holding a job.

Satisfaction with being just mothers is highest in countries such as Bangladesh and Vietnam; it is the lowest in affluent markets such as Japan, Korea and Taiwan.

Nirvik Singh, chairman and chief executive officer, Grey Group Asia Pacific says in a press statement, "People in Asia are looking for symbols, deeper emotions and psychological benefits in their lives. Marketers should respond to this by taking a closer look at what motivates people, as well as what they want from their lives in the future, to create innovative, distinct and impactful messages."