Visa consumer poll highlights Asian e-shopping trends

Sees e-shopping budgets and volume increasing during holiday shopping season in key Asian marketsSingapore - The Internet is proving to be one of the shopping mediums of choice in Asia for the upcoming holiday shopping season. According to a recent consumer poll carried out by Wirthlin Worldwide Asia on behalf of Visa International, one-third of Asian consumers are intending to shop on the Internet for holiday gifts this year.

Sees e-shopping budgets and volume increasing during holiday shopping season in key Asian markets

Singapore - The Internet is proving to be one of the shopping mediums of choice in Asia for the upcoming holiday shopping season. According to a recent consumer poll carried out by Wirthlin Worldwide Asia on behalf of Visa International, one-third of Asian consumers are intending to shop on the Internet for holiday gifts this year. The poll also showed that 40% of current Internet shoppers plan to boost their e-shopping budget from last year.

Visa surveyed over four hundred consumers in four Asian markets - Hong Kong, Korea, Singapore and Thailand. The aim of the consumer poll was to determine consumer-spending behavior - what consumers intend to purchase, where they will do their shopping and how they plan to spend during the upcoming holiday shopping season.

"The poll suggests that the appeal of shopping on the Internet is beginning to reach Asian consumers in a truly significant way. The new millennium will see Asian consumers embrace the choice and convenience of Internet shopping and adopt e-shopping as a part of their everyday lifestyle," said Jeff Perlman, Director of Electronic Commerce, Visa International Asia-Pacific.

To help enhance the on-line shopping experience and create an enjoyable and safe Internet shopping environment for consumers, Visa continues to support and distribute its Internet shopping guide called "Shop Smart on the Internet". The Visa guide is filled with practical on-line shopping tips and aims to help consumers make informed shopping decisions when e-shopping. It also offers non-technical explanations on payment security and highlights recommended shopping Web sites.

E-shoppers' Profile
The research further revealed that younger Asian consumers, also known as the "wired generation", have embraced the convenience and choice offered by the Internet. A staggering 62% of respondents who are planning to shop on-line for gifts are aged thirty or younger. The consumer poll also found that among current on-line shoppers, men (30%) are more likely to shop on the Internet than women (12%). Interestingly, while younger males (30 years and younger) are more likely to shop on-line (37%), the older thirty-something males are emerging as "power-buyers". 50% intend to increase their on-line purchasing budgets this holiday shopping season.

Reasons for E-shopping
The Net-savvy Asian e-shoppers surveyed value the convenience factor (58%) enabled by the Internet. They also appreciate the variety (33%), as well as the freedom and time to browse and decide (31%) what to purchase.

Key E-shopping Markets
Of the four countries surveyed, Thai consumers (39%) are leading the on-line shopping revolution as the most likely to shop on the Internet during the upcoming holiday season. Singaporeans come in on par to their Thai counterparts (38%).

In a possible reflection of renewed economic confidence, an overwhelming proportion of current on-line shoppers in Korea (71%) will increase their on-line shopping budgets, followed by Thais in a distant second place (35%). The consumer poll also indicates that Koreans are most likely to shop on Korean websites, such as Lotte Department Store, Samsung and Goldbank.co.kr.

Popular E-gifts and E-shopping Sites
E-shoppers cited that they would turn to the Internet to buy special holiday gifts, ranging from leisure items to educational materials. The most popular on-line gifts are books (14%), various computer products (11%), jewelry (10%), cosmetics (6%), personal electronics (6%), and home décor (6%). Not surprisingly, Amazon.com (20%) was voted as the most popular international shopping website with Yahoo.com (12%) coming in second. The Visa Shopping Guide by Yahoo! Asia (http://shopguide.yahoo.com.sg) continues to play a key role in providing Asian consumers with a valuable online shopping experience.

Shopping Media
While shopping on-line is a sign of the times, all of the respondents still intend to also shop the traditional way - queuing up at the shops. 21% will buy gifts using mail order catalogues, and 20% will purchase gifts through TV-order programs and Direct TV.

Shopping Budgets
It appears that many consumers feel that the worst of the regional recession is over. Compared to last year, many respondents are cautiously optimistic - they either intend to spend the same amount as last year (35%) or are still undecided about their budget (39%).

Popular Gifts
A substantial number of the consumers polled plan to spend the same as last year, selecting more practical gifts for family and loved ones. When it comes to gift giving for the "significant other" (i.e. husband/wife/boyfriend/girlfriend), consumers cited gifts that are special, yet sensible. Jewelry is the millennium gift of choice (26%), followed by clothing (15%), personal accessories -- tie, wallet, handbag, scarf (9%), cosmetics (5%), home décor (3%), personal electronics (3%) and leisure items (2%).

When buying gifts for parents, clothing (21%) is the most popular gift idea. Not surprisingly, the most frequently mentioned item for children is toys (31%). This millennium holiday season, friends can expect food or a meal out on the town (9%), jewelry (9%), or cards (9%).

Consumer Poll Details
A total of 416 individuals from Hong Kong (100), Thailand (100), Singapore (104) and South Korea (112) were interviewed to determine millennium holiday gift shopping plans and intentions. Consumers, aged between 18 to 55 years, were asked where they would shop, what they might buy for loved ones (i.e. partners, parents, children and closest friend) and the channels they would use to buy their gifts. Women and men accounted for 56% and 44% of the sample size respectively. Those sampled represented a wide spectrum of backgrounds, including professionals, students and housewives.

About Visa International
Record growth in Visa Card numbers and card sales volume for the 12 months ending June 1999 reflects the continued tendency in the Asia-Pacific to replace existing cash and cheque payments with the use of payment cards. Total volume reached US$187.8 billion, comprising US$147.7 billion in purchase volume and cash transactions (13% growth over the corresponding 12 month period) plus a further US$40.1 billion of commercial activity using Visa cards in China, as reported by Chinese member banks. The number of Visa branded cards in the region grew to 122.1 million, up 6% over the corresponding 12-month period. The number of transactions carried out on Visa cards in the region reached 1.46 billion - an increase of 19% over the same 12-month period. This translates into more than 46 Visa transactions every second in Asia-Pacific.

Visa is the world's leading payment brand and the largest payment system worldwide with more volume than all other major payment cards combined. It sees itself playing a pivotal role in advancing new payment products and technologies to benefit its 21,000 member financial institutions and their cardholders. Visa has more than 80 smart card programs in 35 countries and on the Internet, with 23 million Visa chip cards, including 8 million Visa Cash cards. Visa is pioneering SET Secure Electronic Transaction programs to enable and advance Internet commerce. There are over 880 million Visa, Visa Electron, Interlink, PLUS and Visa Cash cards, which generate more than US$1.4 trillion in annual volume. Visa-branded cards are accepted at over 18 million worldwide locations, including at more than 530,000 ATMs in the Visa Global ATM Network.