The pandemic has disrupted market development and crashed global finances at a time of buoyant consumer optimism. The worldwide health crisis is reshaping consumer behaviour, and new consumer trends in Asia are emerging as a result.

After the second COVID-19 wave surge in India and other countries, lockdowns and financial slowdowns threaten once more. People are adapting to new ways of making a living as they adopt a more digitalised lifestyle and are more concerned for their health and welfare.

To understand how the pandemic transformed the market and its impact on consumer behaviour, L Catterton undertook some research in February 2021. They surveyed more than 15000 people across 16 countries, thus analysing the three major trends influencing demands. Around 6000 of the respondents are from Asian cities, such as Beijing, Seoul, Singapore, Hong Kong, Tokyo and Mumbai.

We explore how consumer trends are changing due to the digital leap forward

We explore the three trends set to dominate Asian consumer behaviour post-Covid-19.

Uncertainty hits Asia as recovery remains elusive 

Asian consumers were the most optimistic about economic recovery from the pandemic. However, the new disabling wave has dampened their expectations and regressed the growth projections.

With the belief that the virus was under control and businesses were regaining consumers’ trust, the mood was upbeat. The second COVID wave in India has caused renewed concerns, forcing consumers to shift their consumption preferences even more as, once again,  uncertainty shadows the region and, perhaps, the world.

Although new policies to help fight against the virus are to be implemented, and incentives motivating people to get vaccinated are commonplace, Asian attitudes towards the vaccine are as diverse as the continent’s people. The mistrust in its components and worries about side effects are high.

Approximately 60% of Asians prefer to wait until more information about the vaccine is available, while 33% are willing to get immunised as soon as possible, and 7% don’t want it at all.

Increase in digitalised post-pandemic consumer behaviour

Despite the fall in Asia’s optimism of soon resuming direct interactions and everyday personal and professional lives, consumers are open to embracing more tech options to perform their daily tasks. The pandemic has transformed the region’s consumer behaviour enormously as they now lead the most digitalised life in the world.

This shift increased the demand for more innovative tools, particularly in the fintech, edtech and healthtech sectors, encouraging increased interest from startups and investment firms with an eye on the region.

With lots of new tech on the horizon, the future seems brilliant for Asian entrepreneurs and a population rapidly engaging with the digital world.

Surge in demand for innovative nutrition supplements

The interest in vitamins and health supplements has taken flight since the pandemic started. On the one hand, approximately 60% of Asian consumers have increased their reliance on the mainstream health sector, with nutritional consumption of supplements and vitamins growing by 50% more than in pre-COVID times. On the other hand, many Indian consumers plan to reduce or stop their supplementary intake after the pandemic and go back to their traditional alternatives. However, with the surge of this severe second wave, their hopes of a speedy economic recovery are fading away, and the prospect of returning to their previous consumption habits and trends in the immediate future.   

Meanwhile, China has shown the highest level of willingness in Asia to increase vitamin and supplement consumption, despite having the second-lowest vitamin penetration rate pre-pandemic. This makes the Chinese pharma market attractive to new investors, who intend to conquer the country’s consumers, especially the Baby-Boomers and Millennials. For example, two F&B brands that have seized this opportunity, Wonderlab and Buff X, are targeting millennial women. They seek innovative ways to engage with their consumers and promote their products.

In Singapore and Beijing, health-conscious Boomers and Millennials showed more enthusiasm to adopt and keep consuming supplements and vitamins, in contrast to generations X and Z.

What lies ahead?

Before the second COVID wave, India and most Asian countries were already adopting more tech tools and a digitalised lifestyle. Yet, with the pandemic’s recent surge, many markets in the region realised they were not prepared enough for such a significant economic disaster, especially in India, where the implications could wreck fiscal growth in 2022.

Nevertheless, this has opened the eyes of the tech businesses and investors looking for startup opportunities in India, acknowledging the consumer need for more innovative technologies that would help them in their daily routines. The situation has a phenomenal impact on the digital ecosystem and is driving a startup to become a unicorn every 11 days.

As uncertainty taints future hopes, consumer behaviour will keep transforming until digitalisation takes over every sector in the various tech markets. Such forecasts confirm that new consumer trends in Asia will continue to emerge and attract growth and funding while maintaining businesses revenues with the hopes to advance to a safer economic recovery.