26 July 2020

Adobe: APAC consumer sentiment still positive in mid-2020

Despite COVID-19-induced lockdown restrictions now being lifted in many parts of the world, the extended time spent confined to the home has had a significant impact on consumers’ shopping habits and their interactions with brands, according to research* released by Adobe released on the sidelines of Adobe Experience Makers Live, a virtual event to help brands adapt to the digital world.

According to the research, COVID-19 has impacted consumers’ everyday lives and habits. Nearly seven in 10 consumers (67%) expressed concern about the overall impact of the pandemic. Chief amongst these concerns are personal health (73%), job vulnerability (40%) and the economy (36%). Millennials (72%) typically expressed greater concern compared to Gen Z (58%), Boomers (62%), and Traditionalists (48%).

Simon Dale, MD, Southeast Asia, Adobe commented, “The outbreak of COVID-19 has accelerated a broad shift in APAC consumer behaviours and attitudes that have been in the making for some time. It is clear from the results of the study that brands that are nimble in pivoting to this digital ‘new norm’ will be able to create deep and enduring brand resonance while helping their customers feel truly supported. Marketers will need to pay close attention to their customers and ensure that they adapt their CX strategy to address different groups with relevant messages, more so now than ever.”

While almost all consumers surveyed (95%) are willing to wait out the continued restrictions, only 61% agree with the continued lockdown measures, signalling an eagerness to resume life per normal. Chinese consumers cited the least disagreement with the continued restrictions. Overall, APAC consumers were more willing to wait out restrictions, in contrast to consumer sentiment in Japan and the US.

The survey found a growing social consciousness reflected in the importance consumers placed on staff treatment (77%). Despite this, brands have some way to go - only slightly over half (54%) of consumers agree that brands are doing enough to ensure staff wellbeing. Among the younger generation, attitudes are polarised on this issue - Gen Z typically ascribed less importance while Millennials ascribed more importance to treatment of staff.

Nearly three in four consumers (73%) found it important for brands to mirror the state of the world in their marketing collaterals in response to COVID-19. China (80%) and India (83%) consumers were more likely to agree with this sentiment. Furthermore, there is a general sense that brands have a duty to proactively offer help or provide special offers to customers at this time. This sense of duty among marketers is strongest in China (94%) and India (94%), and weakest in Australia (82%). In the US, close to four fifths (78%) of marketers surveyed say brands have this duty.

Source: Adobe APAC Consumer Survey (June 2020). Results of responses (n = 4,001) to the question "How, if at all, have you changed your shopping for the following?". Shopping frequency and habits have changed. Groceries, media, books, and health products saw an increase or no change in purchase frequency; in contrast, clothes, home improvements, and dining/delivery faced the steepest decline.

Male consumers were more likely to purchase dining/delivery and media, while female consumers shopped less in all categories except groceries and clothes. Media is defined as movies, games and music.

Younger generations and Indian consumers, specifically, cited increased purchasing across all categories, with the exception of dining/delivery for the latter.

Despite COVID-19, seven in 10 consumers reported a preference for purchasing groceries, health/beauty items and home-improvement solutions in person, while around half also opted for home delivery (47%) - usually for food and books - and 17% relied on curbside pickup. In curbside pickups, the shopper does not enter the store, but takes delivery nearby, outside the store.
Across all product categories, younger generations and urban residents preferred home delivery while the older generation preferred in-person shopping, with the exception of media for the latter. Amongst all countries surveyed, Australian consumers were more likely to favour in-person shopping across all product categories. 

Marketers have done a good job at keeping brand sentiment relatively positive during this time. Over half (55%) of consumers found utility in brand-related COVID-19 updates they were sent, with 69% requesting said updates in the future.

Frequency of messaging and ensuring that specific groups of consumers receive messages they need, when they need them was a crucial part of this. Two-thirds of consumers agree that brands are communicating just the right amount, while interestingly, nearly one in five (16%) believe that brands are not communicating enough. Younger consumers were more likely to unsubscribe from emailers, highlighting the importance of taking a personalised approach to keep different groups engaged.

To respond to these nuances in customer preference, the majority of organisations are transforming their long-term strategy in case this period lasts for more than a year (79%), and are also changing their approach to future marketing efforts (82%). In fact, marketers in APAC organisations indicated a greater inclination to make long-term changes compared to their counterparts in the US. Changes include shifting to different marketing channels (75%), changing prioritised audiences (58%) and reallocating resources across different regions (47%).

The intrinsic value of brands directly addressing COVID-19 in external communications is apparent with over seven in 10 (71%) of marketers report having a COVID-19 task force to manage messaging and campaigns. Those in Australia (55%) and Singapore (67%) are less likely to have a task force, whereas those in China (81%) and India (80%) are more likely to have one.

During the lockdown, 58% of consumers increased their online shopping frequency while three quarters (74%) cited an intention to change their future shopping habits. Indian and Singaporean consumers reported the strongest intentions. Unsurprisingly, younger generations were more likely to cite an intention to change future shopping habits while older generations preferred to maintain the status quo.

Chinese and Indian consumers were most likely to report an increase in online shopping, with Indian and Singaporean consumers reporting the strongest intention to change their future shopping habits.

In contrast, under half of marketers in Japan and the US report having specific teams for this. The positive outcome of aligning closely with a COVID-19 task force is that the vast majority of marketers in APAC feel that organisational marketing and communications have been authentic (94%) and have resonated with customers (92%).


Download the reports on the Adobe website – Consumer Report | Marketer Report (PDFs).

*Conducted by research firm Advanis for Adobe, the study surveyed 4,001 consumers in selected Asia Pacific countries – Australia, China, India and Singapore and 1,200 marketers across China, India, Singapore and Australia between 1 – 17 June 2020.

APAC stands for Asia Pacific, and CX for customer experience. 

Age bands are defined as: 18 to 29 years old: Gen Z (23%); 30 to 49 years old Millennials (36%); 50 to 64 years old: Boomers (26%); and 65 years+: Traditionalists (15% ).