Southeast Asia– Sept 6, 2022 – Southeast Asia’s long-term outlook remains robust with the region’s projected GDP growth from 2022 to 2023 forecast to outpace most other markets such as the US, the EU, and China. This is according to Bain & Company and Meta ’s annual SYNC Southeast Asia report which looks at the digital economy and the future of e-commerce in the region.
By the end of 2023, Southeast Asia is expected to maintain its projected growth at 5.1% compared with other markets such as the US (1.3%), the EU (2.1%), and China (4.7%) according to Bain & Company. Southeast Asia’s projected annual inflation rate from 2022 to 2023 is also expected to fare better than most of its peers. The region’s annual inflation rate is projected to decline from 4.2% to 3.3% by end 2023, outperforming the US (at 4.2% by 2023), the EU (at 4.3%), and India (at 6.0%).
The digital consumer population in Southeast Asia is still growing steadily and is forecast to reach 370 million by end-2022, accounting for 82% of the total population of 15-year-olds and above. This figure is projected to rise further to 402 million by 2027, accounting for 88% by the end of the forecast period.
The study also found that Southeast Asia is seeing more foreign direct investment (FDI) being channeled into the region. FDI accounted for a greater proportion of total investment in 2021, at 17% versus 15% in 2015 and just 9% in 2009. This steady rise in foreign investment is a testament to investors’ confidence in Southeast Asia and is fueling the growth of new technologies such as fintech. The study found that Southeast Asia sees a higher penetration of e-Wallets, cryptocurrency and non-fungible tokens compared to most other markets such as China, the US, the EU and Japan, with almost 70% in Southeast Asia having used at least one metaverse-related tech in the last year.
"This new evolution of digital consumers will undoubtedly be the driving force for Southeast Asia's eCommerce gross merchandise value (GMV) growth" said Praneeth Yendamuri, Partner at Bain & Company. "With longer term favorable demographic profile, and as Southeast Asia leads in the adoption of future technologies, businesses that focus on staying the course in the region, build a truly integrated channel strategy and necessary capabilities, make their supply chains resilient, and leverage new tools and technologies to engage with digital consumers will emerge as winners.”
According to the study, the experience of metaverse-related technology such as augmented reality, virtual reality, virtual worlds, crypto currencies and NFTs will evolve from 2D apps currently, to immersive virtual 3D experiences in the next 2-3 years. The study forecasts virtual reality for business such as training and development as well as virtual working and the holding of social events in virtual worlds to be available in the region in the next 10-15 years.
Post pandemic, the study found that Southeast Asian consumers are at a new stage of evolution. The consumer appetite for integrated shopping experiences that effectively blend online and offline services continues to drive digital commerce in the region.
“This openness of consumers to experimentation and engagement is also driving new behaviours with 63% of respondents having used business messaging in the past year” said Benjamin Joe, Vice President, Southeast Asia and Emerging Markets at Meta. “As consumers seek more engagement, we’re also seeing the rise of the creator economy in the region. Creators are emerging as brands and retail channels and it is important that businesses find effective ways of marketing through this channel.”
As Southeast Asians are shopping on more platforms than ever before, the study found that eCommerce marketplaces account for 51% of online spend, while alternative eCommerce platforms such as business messaging and live-shopping account for 22% of online spend. Social media accounts for almost half of online discovery, consisting of image feed (15%), videos on social media (21%) and related tools such as messaging (10%).
“It’s clear that brands need to engage consumers through video as social media continues to be an important channel for consumers to evaluate products. Social media videos accounts for almost half of online discovery, growing at a compounded annual growth rate of 70% from 2020 to 2022. As consumers move between channels and brands build integrated channel strategies, videos on social media acts as a common connecting thread across the purchase funnel’” said Dhruv Vohra, Managing Director, Meta Business Group, Southeast Asia.
The SYNC Southeast Asia study is based on a survey of approximately 16,000 digital consumers and gathered insights from interviews with over 20 CXOs across six Southeast Asian countries, namely, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam. Digital consumers surveyed are those who have made an online purchase in at least two product categories in the past three months and are above 15 years of age.
Editor’s note: To arrange a copy of the report or an interview with the authors, please contact Tay Yan Xin at email@example.com or +65 6228 5019.