Retail in Asia


Value-hacking and emphasis on regional identity paramount to the Asian consumer in 2024

In 2024, consumer sentiment in the APAC region will continue to be influenced by the global economic slowdown and the challenges posed by the cost of living, according to new research by WGSN. 

As stress levels rise and disposable incomes decline, it is becoming crucial for retailers to incorporate small moments of joy throughout the shopper journey in order to encourage short-term spending.

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The region is experiencing an unprecedented aging population, leading shoppers to prioritize “wellspans” (the duration of time spent in good health) over lifespans as they grow older. 

Retailers must also address the region’s significant youth population of approximately 750 million, who value cultural transformation, positive social impact, and exceptional convenience. 

Below, Retail in Asia highlights three key trends in WGSN’s Asia Shopper Priorities 2024 report.

Value-hacking, a growing trend, will redefine consumer expectations

Source: Shutterstock

Asian consumers will seek innovative ways to maximise value, whether it’s through personalised experiences, sustainable products, or enhanced convenience. 

“A continuation from 2023, we are seeing the impact of the ongoing global economic slowdown and cost-of-living crisis continue to impact consumer sentiments in APAC in 2024. Asian consumers will prioritise short-term solutions and micro-indulgences while reassessing long-term health and well-being goals,” says Alison Ho, analyst at WGSN.

Around 80 percent of shoppers in Southeast Asia are actively seeking affordable indulgences. To cater to tighter budgets, brands might consider repackaging small luxuries that can offer moments of joy. 

In Japan, for example, Muji 500 by lifestyle retailer Muji has launched Muji 500, a concept store offering daily essentials priced at JPY500 (USD3.50) or less.

As consumers look to ‘live intentionally,’ the strength of brand storytelling can bring desire

APAC shoppers are increasingly motivated to simplify and lead intentional lives, according to WGSN. 

Younger shoppers in particular are reevaluating their decision-making process and making deliberate purchases that prioritise quality over quantity. Around 81 percent of Chinese Gen Z consumers said they equate luxury with enhanced lifestyles, a shift in mindset that highlights the growing importance of experiences perceived as meaningful and valuable. 

At a time when people are buying less, fostering deeper connections through loyalty is crucial for brands, and storytelling can be used a selling tool. 

By crafting emotionally rich narratives through world-building, brands can captivate and engage their audience. Establishing third-spaces for direct interaction and community-building with consumers further strengthens these connections, creating a sense of belonging and shared experiences. 

Brands such as Korean eyewear brand Yun are focusing on elevating brick-and-mortar spaces, drawing inspiration from minimalist elements as well as traditional local culture. 

Source: Shutterstock

Regional identity takes centre stage

The fascination with local heritage, regional entertainment, and pop culture has yet to peak. WGSN research found a surge in interest in homegrown talent as domestic brands and personalities gain market share in Vietnam, Thailand, China, and Japan. 

As regional exposure expands, APAC shoppers are becoming influential cultural gatekeepers, demanding deeper engagement and creativity from brands in hyperlocal activations.

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Brands have begun taking note in recent years. Breaking away from the usual red-dominated Lunar New Year collections, Spanish luxury brand Loewe partnered with Chinese master jade carvers Xiaojin Yin, Lei Cheng, and Qijing to showcase the traditional significance of popular jade motifs and colors in its Lunar New Year 2024 capsule collection. In Singapore, German footwear brand Birkenstock took inspiration from the distinctive features of traditional Peranakan homes, integrating original design elements to create a unique and captivating ambiance for its boutique.