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Tech Adoption in the Asia-Pacific Region


For technology brands looking to find new markets, opportunity abounds in the Asia-Pacific region. But the landscape of consumer technology buyers is far from homogenous. To tap the full potential of these markets, brands must recognize the differences in consumer behavior as it pertains to technology, including what they own, what they want to own, where they buy and how much they spend.

CTA’s Asia-Pacific Consumer Technology Ownership and Opportunity study examines technology adoption and use behaviors among online consumers in China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines and Vietnam. Surveying 5,500 online consumers, the analysis reveals several strategic insights for anyone seeking to compete in the Asia-Pacific region.

The consumer appetite for technology is strong across all five Asia-Pacific markets studied. Nearly six in 10 online Chinese consumers describe themselves as early-adopters of technology—purchasing devices as soon as they are available. Close to 50 percent of online consumers in Malaysia and Indonesia report similar adoption behavior. By comparison, roughly 15 percent of U.S. consumers describe themselves as early adopters. Meanwhile, Philippine online consumers are more likely to be mass adopters of technology, with 59 percent reporting they buy devices others recommended.

The technology ownership profile of online consumers in the Asia-Pacific region mirror developed markets. Smartphones, TVs and PCs dominate the ownership picture here, with some nuanced differences. For example, in the Philippines headphones were the technology product most owned; underscoring the importance of music in Filipino culture. In Vietnam, while 97 percent of online consumers report owning a smartphone, 88 percent also own a feature phone—a sign of the fragmented mobile landscape.

How do Consumers Purchase Tech Products?

This is where the analysis gets interesting; not only in how much consumers spend, but where they buy and why. When it comes to their next consumer technology purchase, Chinese online consumers report the highest average amount, just under $700 USD. The anticipated average spend on their next consumer tech device is less among online consumers in the other countries studied. Indonesian online consumers plan to spend the least on average for their next tech purchase at just under $400 USD.

The data highlights the need for lower cost devices to effectively penetrate emerging markets, where consumer tech budgets are considerably lower compared to developed markets in North America or Western Europe. Across the region, price is the largest barrier to purchase for consumer technology, although in China this barrier is less prominent.

Echoing the differences in planned spending, the purchase location also varies between China and the other markets. Some 62 percent of online consumers in China report they will buy their next consumer tech product online. And why not? China enjoys a robust online sales channel with sites like Alibaba and JD.com (both of whom exhibited at CES Asia 2016).

In Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines and Vietnam, most online consumers plan to make their next tech purchase at a physical store; mostly because consumers here attach importance to seeing and demoing products before they buy. This means store placements and training for sales staff is key for manufacturers looking to win market share in places like Vietnam.

Steve Koenig

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