Malaysian consumers have the highest brand engagement in APAC, with over 80% of consumers engaging with both local and international brands. According to Rakuten Marketing's "APAC State of eCommerce" report, the highest engagement rates for Malaysian shoppers is via Facebook, where 69% follow local brands and 63% follow international brands.
Aside from Facebook, consumers follow brands on Instagram (37% local, 36% international) and email (27% local, 25% international). In 2019, Instagram overtook email as the second highest driver of brand engagement.
More than 70% of Malaysian shoppers said international shopping websites offer a wider range of products, with 60% agreeing that overseas brands also offer faster access to new products. Over 50% of shoppers said international websites provide better quality products, while 45% say the overall experience is better when shopping with international brands.
Of all APAC countries surveyed, brand discovery via social media advertising (65%) and influencer marketing (21%) is highest in Malaysia. Similarly, consumers in Malaysia are among the highest in APAC to use cashback and reward sites to find new brands, doing so 28% of the time. Although Malaysians are utilising other channels to find new brands, online search (78%) and referrals from friends and family (53%) remain the strongest drivers of brand discovery with deals and coupons following (23%).
Influencing purchasing decisions
For Malaysian consumers, the ability to purchase using local payments (36%) and the availability of a mobile app (38%) influences shoppers’ purchase decisions more than most other APAC countries. Like other countries in the region, Malaysian consumer decisions are driven primarily by price point, with 77% of shoppers citing this a major influence in their decision making. When it comes to promotional incentives, 35% of consumers are influenced by websites offering vouchers and promotions, and 33% look for cashback and rewards.
Meanwhile, 57% of Malaysian shoppers said the cost of shipping is the main reason holding them back from shopping online, a change in sentiment from 2018 when legitimacy of digital storefronts and the ability to return an item were the key reasons for not shopping online. Although the legitimacy of a website and returns are high on the list of concerns for consumers in Malaysia (29%), payment security is also a factor preventing people from making online purchases (36%).
Preference for shopping domestically versus locally is split across categories for Malaysian consumers. Domestic brands are the preferred choice for Malaysian consumers for groceries (80%), home improvement (55%), health products (50%) and travel (49%). Strong preference for international brands is shown when shopping for watches and accessories (52%), sports and outdoors (52%), electronics accessories (48%) and beauty products (47%). International preference is also shown for luxury goods, media and games and women’s and men’s fashion.
Overall, Malaysians are the third largest drivers of mCommerce in APAC, with 24% of retail spend taking place via mobile (representing 50% of total online spend). Malaysian consumers aged 18 to 24 are spending the most on mobile (30%) followed by people aged 25 to 34 (28%). About 51% of spend is still taking place in store with consumers spending 16% on desktop or laptop and 8% via tablet.
Malaysian shoppers gravitate primarily towards beauty products and groceries and household goods each accounting for 10% of digital spend, followed by the women’s fashion (9%) and consumer electronic (9%) categories. These categories are most often ranked the highest for digital spend among each age bracket with Malaysian consumers.
Online expenditure for the travel sector decreased 2% from 2018, down from 10% in 2018 to 8% in 2019. Women’s fashion also declined slightly down 1% year-on-year to account for just 9% of spend. Beauty is the category consumers 18 to 24 and 35 to 44 are shopping from most, with consumer electronics being the highest area of spend for 25 to 34-year-olds and people aged over 55.
The report delves into the online shopping behaviours and preferences of 500 consumers in each of the nine key markets within APAC - Singapore, Malaysia, China, Hong Kong, South Korea, Australia, and New Zealand. This is the second year the report has been conducted, with results from Japan and Indian markets added in 2019.
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