Southeast Asian consumers are adopting new technologies rapidly in so many different ways that it can be difficult to track. The market value of Asia Pacific’s consumer tech industry amounted to US$257 billion, and there is still potential to grow with the market size expected to be an estimated 350 million digital consumers in Southeast Asia by the end of 2021.

To find out how this is going, we spoke to Lisa Yong, Director, Consumer Tech, WGSN. She heads their brand new department, which focuses on Consumer Tech. WSGN is the world’s leading consumer trend forecaster and is now looking to understand the evolving Asian market for consumer technology.

Lisa Yong is Singaporean, but based in Silicon Valley who has over 20 years of experience in product design. She was kind enough to take some time out of her schedule to have a discussion around the consumer tech trends in Southeast Asia and how our markets react and adapt.

Congrats on your new role. Could you share more about what you guys are doing with the new vertical?

Thanks for your kind wishes.

We all know how technology influences all aspects of our lives. New technological innovations are smarter and faster these days. It has become a constant challenge for people to keep up and understand technology. 

WGSN Consumer Tech aims to make sense of the tech universe so we can be inspired by it. With our purpose-driven insights on tech-driven consumer, lifestyle and CMF (colours, materials, finishes) trends, we want to empower brands with actionable recommendations that they can use to design standout technology products and experiences that enhance the lives of future consumers.

What are some of these consumer trend shifts you’re seeing in Southeast Asia?

Over the years, there has been a steady increase in consumer support for local brands, community group buying and reselling online. Through recent challenging times, this has accelerated when both consumers and businesses recognised the importance of the “we are in this together” sentiment of mutual support.

The social aspect of consumerism, coupled with a repurposing mindset that aligns with sustainability movements, are on the rise in the region and will be more prominent as it resonates well with Asian sensibilities. Community, convenience, stability, resourcefulness and purpose are key values that have emerged and will become a stronghold on consumption habits.

Is there a particular driver for change in terms of market or do we act more like a homogeneous group?

The ongoing global pandemic has brought the world closer than ever. No matter where you live, everyone is going through the same health management problems, economic issues, emotional upheavals and mental anxieties.

Consumer’s relationship with technology is also transforming. In the past 18 months, we have seen how the disruptive effects of COVID-19 have brought on new behaviours that are rapidly changing the landscape of tech consumerism. 

Driven by the necessity to adapt and maintain some normalcy, our reliance on technology and willingness to adopt new digital experiences have greatly increased. Regardless of age or income level, we have all become eager adopters of tech in a short span of time. This is quite remarkable to observe how it continues to evolve.

Do you see any upcoming major consumer tech trends or shifts in 2022 in Southeast Asia?

Moving into 2022, technology is the one constant we can still rely on to carry on with our lives. New habits learned will have a lasting effect on consumer behaviours and expectations. People are more conscious of how they spend their money, and health has become a premium over material wealth. 

With this new mindset, consumers will be more discerning as they want to regain some control over their choices. They will look for innovative product experiences with time-saving, flexible solutions that also address sustainability issues and support a digital-first lifestyle. Brands that have quickly transitioned to digital-first solutions are thriving and will continue to spearhead new trends in the region.

What’s next for WGSN Consumer Tech?

We are eager to continue tracking and exploring new exciting developments in the tech world, as well as nurture our connections to Asia. The future may be uncertain, but we, at WGSN, feel energised by the possibilities to change for the better, hopefully aided by technology that will have a positive impact on our future lives.