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Robust e-commerce boosts consumer sentiment in emerging markets

2015-02-06 10:57 chinadaily.com.cn Web Editor: Qin Dexing

A new study provides a timely insight regarding consumer sentiment and future consumption patterns.

It comes as emerging economies are concerned by slowing growth rates and the prevailing commodity price and foreign exchange volatility pose new challenges.

The Credit Suisse Research Institute's fifth annual Emerging Consumer Survey - a detailed study profiling consumer sentiment and its drivers across the emerging world - was published on Monday.

To undertake the project, Credit Suisse partnered with global market research firm Nielsen to conduct nearly 16,000 face-to-face interviews with consumers across nine economies, Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa and Turkey.

The survey provides positive support for the outlook of e-commerce across the countries surveyed, with feedback indicating that e-commerce across the nine could become bigger as a share of total retail sales than in developed economies.

Among the reasons are the relatively underdeveloped "bricks and mortar" retail sector, especially in more rural areas and the rapid increase in the share of consumers with smart phone-related Internet access creating new levels of spending.

The survey estimates that this could lift total annual online retail sales across the surveyed markets to as much as $3 trillion, which would have an effect on companies across multiple sectors including retail, finance, security and technology.

More widespread Internet use and increasing spending power are factors driving the trend toward e-commerce. It is most accepted in China, with 65 percent of respondents claiming to have made a purchase online during the past six months. This compares to less than 40 percent for the other countries.

However, momentum in relation to the share of online shoppers across the other countries is stronger. For example, the share of respondents in India that have used the Internet for online shopping increased to 32 percent from 20 percent in 2013.

The survey also shows that more than 70 percent of Chinese consumers, who are younger than 30 years old, shop online. This is a much higher percentage than in other countries; but as far as growth momentum is concerned, countries such as India have started to accelerate, with the share of younger people shopping online almost doubling compared to 2013.

"Our survey provides a unique and detailed analysis of consumer sentiment in the emerging world. While many are actively scrutinizing the macro outlook for emerging markets amidst the current volatility, the bottom-up analysis in our survey highlights how far from uniform consumer sentiment is," said Stefano Natella, Global Co-Head Securities and Analytics Research at Credit Suisse.

According to Giles Keating, Credit Suisse's Global Head of Research for Private Banking and Wealth Management, the survey shows the contrasting impact of the oil price collapse on emerging markets. Consumer sentiment in Russia and key Latin American economies is under pressure, in contrast to India where the consumer looks robust, helped by reforms.

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