Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Indians are world's most optimistic

Majority of Indians are willing to purchase what they desire and invest in mutual funds and shares way ahead of their Asian counterparts, according to the latest global online consumer confidence survey from ACNielsen.

This positive outlook on job prospects and personal finances makes India an exciting country for consumer marketing, according to ACNielsen. The country is witnessing a retail boom, with more and more consumers (66%) excited about trying out new products and services.

Apart from that, disposable incomes are venturing beyond traditional savings to investments in the stock markets. About 44 per cent of Indians are willing to take the plunge into the continuously bullish market.

The ACNielsen Online Consumer Confidence and Opinion Survey, the largest half-yearly survey of its kind, is aimed at gauging current confidence levels, spending habits/intentions and current major concerns of consumers across the globe. The survey polled over 23,500 respondents in 42 markets from Europe, Asia Pacific, North America, Latin America and Emerging Markets

Looking back over the last six months, consumers in the Asia Pacific region and North America were the most optimistic, while the attitudes of Portuguese have worsened further over the previous six months.

"The positive outlook towards the job market has empowered Indian consumers with more disposable income than they have had at any time in recent history, creating a new set of consumers whose eagerness to splash out is not limited to the festive seasons," says Sarang Panchal, executive director, customised research services, ACNielsen South Asia.

"To capture the wallet of this new set of consumers, companies would be well advised to focus on innovative promotional activities with advertising and promotional budgets spread across the year, instead of concentrating them on festive occasions."
For the coming year, India is clearly the most optimistic country in the world. Indians have made a leap of faith and remain at the top of ACNielsen's global ranking, with a confidence index of 132 points - nine points ahead of the world's second most optimistic nation, New Zealand.

An overwhelming 92 per cent of Indians are expecting job prospects to increase substantially and about 87 per cent think that their personal finances will be in good shape.

"The impact of outsourcing and the flourishing of the IT sector have opened up a lot of avenues for the Indian youth. The key challenge at the moment is ensuring that adequate training and grooming are available to sustain this prosperity over time." adds Sarang. "Further employee satisfaction is likely to be the metric for this young breed of corporate associates," he added.

Consumers in Asia Pacific continue to ride a wave of economic buoyancy, with their confidence increasing in nine out of 13 markets. Even the Japanese and South Koreans, with the lowest confidence indices globally, have improved their prospects for the future. In Japan, 45 per cent more people believe they will have better job prospects over the next year, compared to the earlier survey.

Positive developments were also seen in European countries, in spite of prevailing economic and political conditions facing the region. North America, as well as Latin America, is generally positive on employment and financial prospects. 68 percent of North Americans look forward to good and excellent job prospects over the next 12 months.

Spending desires:

With wallets laden and increasingly competitive airline tickets, more and more Indians are opting for leisure vacations.The survey clearly points to home improvements (38%) and leisure holidays (37%) as the two pursuits Indian consumers are willing to indulge in. (Refer Chart IV & V)
On a global basis, 59 per cent of the world's consumers share positive financial expectations, while 61 per cent say they would rather not spend. Out of home entertainment, new clothes and holidays ranked top of the global list.

Europeans remain true to form by neglecting their savings, which came fifth (36%) before home improvements and decoration (35%). It is also interesting to note that in the fashion arena, France has lost their mantle as the second biggest spenders on new apparel, handing it to Spaniards (48%) and Italians (47%). Consumers in the US, Canada and South Africa continue spending mostly on paying down debt, while at the same time keeping themselves entertained out of home.

Asians, Australians and New Zealanders on the contrary are mostly focused on savings and paying off debt in the first place.

Major concerns:

While the major concerns for Indians over the next 12 months are the economy and their health, this number has dropped from 37 per cent and 31 per cent to 22 percent and 11 per cent respectively.

"Lack of adequate facilities in semi urban and rural areas is making healthcare a bigger and more serious concern for consumers and this will surely affect the development of the nation in future. But things are getting better with time, and a newfound interest in healthy living has lead to pursuits like visiting a personal trainer or taking health-rejuvenating holidays coming into vogue. This opens up a whole host of opportunities for marketers operating in the wellness sector," explained Panchal.

Globally, consumers continue to rank their major concerns as the economy, job security and health. The economy is the biggest concern for most Asian countries as well as the US, while job security is the top issue for Latin American. Health is the biggest or second biggest concern in Europe and North America. Polish consumers are worried over political stability, following the recent change of the country president.

Crime is by far the biggest concern in South Africa, followed by job security and the economy
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