Malaysian online shoppers most engaged by brands in APAC, says study

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.

Consumption trends

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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