[Listicle] Consumer Trends In Malaysia To Cater To In 2021, By Google

This year has pushed brands from various industries to come up with pivots or ideas to continue to survive in the new normal.

While the New Year doesn’t guarantee a better year for business, this extremely uncertain year alone has at least prepared many people to prepare for unforeseen future challenges.

Think with Google released its Year In Search 2020 report for Asia-Pacific which analyzed the rise in searches in 2020 to find the top 5 consumer trends brands need to be aware of to kick off 2021 on a strong footing. Here is a summary of his findings.

1. People want to feel included

According to Think with Google 2020 insights, 50% of consumers in the APAC region agree that the practice of inclusiveness is important to them.

The year of research reports that users in the APAC region are educating themselves more and more quietly on how to deal with social stigma and how to deal with topics that have traditionally been considered taboo.

Some data they found that supports this report are as follows:

  • 25% year-on-year increase in research on gender inequalities in Indonesia.
  • 250% year-over-year increase in “what to say to someone who is depressed” research in the Philippines.
  • 250% annual increase in disability etiquette research in India.

An example of a Malaysian brand working with this consumer trend is the launch of the Sunway Putra Mall on Autism-Friendly Shopping Tuesdays to raise awareness about Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

To make the shopping experience more comfortable for the autistic community, the mall introduced inclusive facilities like a quiet room, a sensory wall, dimmed its lights, and lowered the volume of its music.

2. Respect for the environment Is the growing standard

This year, in Malaysia alone, there has been a 65% increase in searches for ‘reusable’ compared to the 30% increase last year compared to 2018.

To dive even deeper into this trend, the Year in Research 2020 for Malaysia reports that there are:

  • 285% year-over-year increase in “metal straw” searches.
  • Year-on-year increase of 85% in “eco shop” searches.
  • 70% year-over-year increase in searches for “hybrid cars”.

Apart from products, this report also highlights data on Malaysians educating themselves to become more environmentally conscious:

  • Year-on-year increase of 75% in “zero waste” research.
  • 34% year-on-year increase in “carbon footprint” research.
  • 110% year-on-year increase in “sustainable fashion” research.

The report also highlights the shift from green status to eco-shame in this trend, where green buying is now less about acceptance status, but more about shame of withdrawal.

Brands should take this opportunity to find ways to adapt their business to more respect for the environment while being transparent, which will attract like-minded consumers.

3. Brands must find ways to adapt to consumers’ lives

People will look for brands that speak to them and feel they understand them. This may be due to their beliefs or simply having a service available to them in their local language, for example.

For example, in Malaysia, there was a 550% year-over-year growth in searches for halal versions of brands, such as “Toblerone halal”, “Ovaltine halal” and “Bischoff halal”.

Brands need to be aware of their consumers’ lifestyles and find ways to make sure their products and services match, and to make it easier for consumers to accept them and keep them in their lives.

Within Google Marketing, they found that even when users use English-language browsers, click-through rates are consistently higher when local language ad copy is used.

“It was 17% higher in Hong Kong and Taiwan and up to 34% in Indonesia, which underlines how important it is for companies to challenge digital standards,” said Sebastiaan Burgmans, director of SME advertising marketing at Google APAC in the report.

4. Consumers are looking for sparks of joy

In a year filled with heartbreak and mourning, consumers are looking for products or content that elicit joy while giving them a break from challenges.

Year In Search 2020 results showed that ACPA is the only region that ranks “having a positive attitude” as the most important factor on “spending time with family” and “being financially secure”.

In Malaysia, they saw a 55% increase in searches for “mukbang,” which is a kind of South Korean food show, for those who don’t know it. We have also had an increase in searches for “memes”.

As people spend more time at home, they invest in small indulgences that can improve their quality of life or that make sense.

Self-care, ways to show love and care for family and friends, and light content are some of the popular trends that people are looking for these days.

5. People are testing the future of their own lives

Companies are not the only ones who want to avoid risks; with the uncertainties that lie ahead, even consumers are now risk averse, preserving and strengthening their economic prospects.

In the APAC region, the Year In Search study reveals that there is an increase in the number of consumers who are upgrading their skills, financial literacy and strengthening their efforts to survive. This year there have been:

  • 100% year-over-year increase in “Best Online Learning Platforms” in Malaysia.
  • 400% year-over-year increase in “digital marketing fundamentals” in India.
  • 35% year-on-year increase in “equity investments” in Vietnam, compared to a 10% decline last year.

One way for brands to respond to this new risk averse customer base is to offer products and services through a trial-before-buy model, which also secures the future of the business itself.

EcoWorld, a Malaysian real estate developer, is an example of incorporating this into his business. They designed a rental program where people could try out a house before deciding whether to buy it or not, with the option of contributing up to 30% of the rental to the price of the house.

Another startup we talked about that is doing something similar is Scentses + Co, which sells you designer fragrance samples so you can decide if committing to a full bottle is worth it.

  • You can read more of the listings we’ve written about here.
  • You can read other entrepreneurial trends we’ve written about here.

Featured Image Credit: Sekeping Serendah by Zati Lutpii / Nude Zero Waste Store

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Jothi Venkat

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