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The Philippines is Asia-Pacific’s “most optimistic” consumer market, says Mastercard report

Consumer confidence in Asia-Pacific bubbles with youthful optimism, according to findings from the Mastercard Index of Consumer Confidence (H2 2017). The Index indicates that the region’s millennials (aged 18 – 29 years) are very confident about the next six months (72.9 points), while the older generation (aged 30 and above) are tempered in their outlook towards the future (66.7 points).

Rising economic growth, a soaring travel industry and greater intra-regional economic cooperation in Asia-Pacific are fueling the region’s overall confidence at 68.5 points. Since the latter half of 2016, optimism across both age groups has risen; consumers aged above 30 tracked a 6.3 point jump in optimism, while people aged below 30 tracked a 5.0 point lift. These lifts are reflected across buoyant consumer sentiment towards the stock market, employment, and economic performance. In particular, stock market optimism tracked a +10.2 point growth amongst people aged under 30 years.

Regardless of age group, the Index found that emerging economies such as Philippines (94.5 points), China (92.2 points), Cambodia (92.2 points) and Myanmar (91.7 points) recorded the highest levels of optimism. This is in sharp contrast to more developed markets like Taiwan (44.2 points), Malaysia (45.9 points), and Japan (51.0 points), where both age groups were more pessimistic. High levels of optimism in emerging markets can be attributed to infrastructure investments which are seen to drive more opportunities for jobs and upward social mobility.

Between October and November 2017, 9141 respondents, aged 18 to 64 across eighteen Asia Pacific markets, were asked to give a six-month outlook on five economic factors: the Economy, Employment Prospects, Regular Income Prospects, Stock Market and Quality of Life. The Index is calculated on a scale of 0 to 100, with zero as the most pessimistic, 100 as the most optimistic, and a score of 40 – 60 as neutral. The Mastercard Index of Consumer Confidence and its accompanying reports should not be interpreted as indicators of Mastercard’s financial performance.

 Detailed market-level findings

  • Asia Pacific’s overall confidence conceals notable variances between its markets. The Philippines (94.5 points), which tops the Index as the region’s most optimistic market, experienced some improvement across three components over the last six months – the Stock Market (+11.3 points), Income (+5.3 points), and Quality of Life (+4.4 points).
  • Conversely, the Index reveals Sri Lanka (39.5 points) as its least optimistic market, with declines in confidence towards Quality of Life (-4.0 points) and the Economy (-3.2 points).
  • Buoyed by growth in retail spending and inbound tourism over the last six months, Hong Kong’s under 30 population (+21.8 points) tracked the largest improvement in consumer confidence.The market’s dramatic leap boosted it from pessimistic to optimistic territory, tracking  significant  improvement  across all five components – Employment (+32.5 points), Economy (+23.3 points), Stock Market (+19.3), Regular Income (+18.9 points) and Quality of Life (+15.2 points).
  • Geopolitical tensions in South Korea contributed to its significant deterioration in consumer confidence in both its under 30 (-28.3 points) and above 30 demographics (-18.4 points). South Korea experienced the greatest decline on the Index, dropping two ranks from very optimistic to neutral territory. The only other market to track declines across both demographics is Bangladesh (-8.1 points, -9.5 points).
  • Growths are recorded in the below 30s demographic across eleven out of eighteen Asia Pacific markets, with stable movements in Australia (+4.8 points), Myanmar (+4.4 points,) and Thailand (+2.1 points). Some improvement is seen in the Philippines (+6.9 points), Taiwan (+8.6 points), Malaysia (+6.2 points) and Singapore (+5.3 points) while significant improvement is tracked in New Zealand (15.1 points).
  • Declines are tracked in the above 30s demographic in only four out of eighteen Asia-Pacific markets, with stable movements across Indonesia (-3.1 points) and Cambodia (-1.9 points). Some deterioration is seen in Bangladesh (-9.5 points), while significant deterioration is tracked in South Korea (-18.4 points).
  • Age-related sentiment varies most strongly across Asia-Pacific’s more developed markets. The greatest variations in confidence between people aged below 30 and above 30 are felt most strongly across Taiwan (56.5 points vs. 39.7 points), Singapore (66.1 points vs. 50.0 points), and New Zealand (76.3 points vs. 63.0 points).
  • Consumer confidence amongst people over 30 has outpaced those in the under 30 segments in Singapore (+11 points vs. + 5.3 points) and China (+5.7 vs. +0.4 points). In Singapore, a rising aging population, as well as growing optimism towards the economy, income, and employment, have contributed to this observation.
  • Japan, Sri Lanka,  and India are the only three markets in Asia-Pacific where consumer confidence declined amongst people under 30, while observing improvements in their above 30 segments. This phenomenon is felt most keenly in Japan, where optimism amongst its youth dipped by -8.8 points, while the older generation reported a 10.9 point jump in confidence.

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