Southeast Asia’s digital consumers jump by 70M since pandemic

Survey of more than 16,000 people in Singapore, Malaysia, Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam finds digital adoption grew rapidly during pandemic

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AA) – Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, 70 million more people in Southeast Asia have become digital consumers, with Indonesia leading the region for the second year in a row, a report said on Wednesday.

A survey of more than 16,000 people in Singapore, Malaysia, the Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand, and Vietnam found that digital adoption grew rapidly during the pandemic, according to an annual report by social media giant Facebook and management consulting firm Bain & Company.

The report said almost eight in 10 people, or 78%, among Southeast Asia’s population of 15-year-olds and above will be digital consumers by the end of this year.

“Indonesia continues to enjoy the highest growth rate in Southeast Asia, with its digital consumer population expected to grow from 144 million in 2020 to 165 million in 2021,” it said.

With additional 21 million people aged 15 years and older, Indonesia recorded a growth of around 15%, followed by Vietnam (8%), Malaysia (5%), Philippines (5%), Singapore (5%), and Thailand (2%), according to the survey.

“By 2026, Southeast Asia’s digital consumer population is expected to reach around 380 million,” 1.4-fold higher compared to 2019, it added.

“In 2020, the report said Southeast Asia’s migration from the offline to the online economy surpassed our initial estimates and took off at an accelerated pace.

“Changes that were expected to take place over half a decade took place in just a year, partly because of the consumption habits brought about by the pandemic,” it said.

The report also noted that the contribution of online retail to total retail for key categories rose faster in Southeast Asia than in Brazil, China, or India, rising from 5% in 2020 to 9% this year.

It said the average spending per digital consumer is expected to grow 60% by the end of the year, from $238 per person at the end of 2020 to $381 by the end-2021.

Social media videos specifically have seen their popularity surge as one of the most likely places to find a new product, with 22% of respondents cite social media videos as the top channel for discovery, tripling since last year.

The survey also found online grocery to be the fastest-growing segment, with the majority of consumers also planning to either increase or maintain their online spending on groceries other categories.

“What we see in China and the US is more of a channel shift from offline to online, whereas in Southeast Asia, the growth in consumer spending and retail is driven by online channels,” the report quoted Magnus Ekbom, the chief strategy officer of the Lazada Group, an international e-commerce company, as saying.

The report said 346 million people in Southeast Asia accessed Facebook every day in Q2 of 2021, while 350 million people are expected to become digital consumers by the end of this year.

Meanwhile, 95% of the respondents accessed the internet on their smartphones, it added.

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