Indonesia consumer research: Living with the pandemic

In our series monitoring the impact of the pandemic on consumer behaviour in Indonesia, Cimigo conducted consumer research to uncover how consumers habits and attitudes have adapted to the current conditions, and what, if any, has changed since our previous report at the height of the initial Covid-19 outbreak.

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As various local provincial governments enact measures to curb the spread of the virus, with varying degrees of restrictions and success, Indonesians have become more accustomed to living with the pandemic. Partial lockdowns or “PSBB” in some major cities such as Jakarta have been implemented following the ebb and flow of Covid infection numbers, which understandably creates uncertainty and restlessness among residents.

Cimigo Indonesia consumer during pandemic

For this consumer research in Indonesia, Cimigo combined primary data from qualitative interviews of n=10 adult respondents aged 25-50 years from Middle Class and Affluent backgrounds in the Greater Jakarta (Jadetabek) area and secondary data from desk research.

Indonesia consumer research: Economic downturn

Indonesia GDP growth rate Cimigo Like many countries around the world, the Indonesian economy experienced a decline overall during the pandemic. While most businesses and sectors are struggling to survive or face increased pressure, some “lucky” sectors have been unscathed or even experienced a boom during the pandemic. As a case in point, the steep decline in demand for travel as countries restrict mobility has hit the travel and hospitality industry hard, but in stark contrast, the shift to more in-home shopping has been a boon to e-commerce players.

A clear trend we see resulting from the pandemic is the rise of micro-businesses – modest ventures run from home to generate or supplement household income. These micro-businesses are leveraging the existing e-commerce and digital ecosystem (parcel delivery services, social media, digital payments etc.) to sell everything from home-made foods and snacks to household items and other knick-knacks. Whilst it is easy to see them as “new players” competing in the market against more established businesses, this does not have to be the case. These home businesses generate increased demand for auxiliary supporting sectors, such as courier services, packaging sellers and raw material suppliers. In fact, entrepreneurial individuals have started a cottage “consulting” industry offering digital lessons and training for these new business owners on everything from digital marketing to business finances.

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The success of these micro-businesses relies on a spirit of “we’re in this together”, whereby buyers, usually in the sellers’ close personal network, buy their goods and services as a way to show support in these troubling times. While some businesses have cleverly leveraged this general sentiment with campaigns to support partners and suppliers (e.g. donations and tips), we expect that this outpouring of solidarity will recede as the economy picks up. When that happens, it will be interesting to see whether these micro-businesses are sustainable long-term ventures, or simply a temporary activity driven by the needs of the times.Innovative Indonesia during pandemic

For more established companies, extreme times call for extreme measures, and we see many business-changing tactics to make the best of the situation, and companies are forced to leave their comfort zones in order to maintain viability. As mentioned in our last report, this will accelerate the rate of change in the market (for example the adoption of digital technologies) and weed out the less nimble players who are unable to adapt.

Creativity and innovation abound in crisis, and new products and services have sprung up to fulfil the changing needs of the consumer during the pandemic. The Polygrab, a tool made for “contactless” lifestyle, is a prime example of a product being the sign of the times! Beyond products, businesses are also pivoting to stay relevant in the pandemic, such as hotels offering “self-isolation packages” and food and beverage players creating solutions to “bring food to the customer” as on-site dining restrictions are imposed.

Indonesia consumer research: Spending shifts and covid fatigue

The lifting of strict PSBB restrictions are a welcome development and is well-received by most residents of Jakarta. Many are adapting to the new rules in place, such as wearing masks when in public, additional health scans and checks when entering public facilities, and the limited capacity and operating hours of shops and food outlets, which are seen as acceptable trade-offs to be able to resume some of their pre-Covid activities. New habits such as carrying hand sanitizers and extra facemasks when going out are also becoming the norm.

Mall Indonesia, Cimigo

In line with the findings in our previous report, Middle Class and Affluent households follow similar reallocation patterns of their spending following the lifting of strict PSBB – with lower spend on travel and transport and increasing their expenditure on household bills (utilities and Internet) and health or protective products. A cautious attitude prevails during uncertain times, with any excess funds resulting from the reallocation of spend being saved up or reinvested rather than being spent on something else. This supports our previous expectation that there will not be a sudden “revenge spending spree” once lockdowns are relaxed – we anticipate that more time and a more tangible solution to the pandemic are needed before consumer confidence can recover.

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We find once again that different segments exist in the market in terms of their attitudes and behaviours towards the Covid-19 situation and the relaxation of PSBB.

One the one hand, some see the relaxation of PSBB as a sign that Covid-19 situation is improving and a sign that “things are getting back to normal”. This leads to a false sense of security, which when paired with a strong desire to get back to their pre-Covid routines, resulting in clouded judgments and some reckless behaviour – such as flouting of health protocols. Ironically, this behaviour could potentially create new Covid-19 infection clusters which make it riskier to carry out routine activities!

On the other hand, there are those who are in a constant state of hyper-vigilance throughout the pandemic. These people stay home and do not resume their usual out-of-home activities despite PSBB being relaxed. In extreme cases, it affects their dealings with people as they treat everyone as a possible carrier of the virus!

Many months of the pandemic has created a sense of “Covid fatigue” which manifests in different ways. Gone is the intense atmosphere of anxiety and fear prevalent in the early onset of the pandemic, replaced by a strong desire to move on and resume normal activities. Particularly among the younger crowd, boredom weighs more heavily on their minds than fear of the virus itself!

Regardless, we recommend positive and uplifting messaging that continues to connect with consumers while maintaining or even boosting brand saliency during this pandemic will be the most effective long term.

Making the most of extra time

We are picking up some noteworthy trends in how consumers are spending their free or leisure time during the pandemic and especially after PSBB has been eased.  Consumers either use their newfound “extra time” for leisure purposes or for self-improvement.

cycling in Indonesia Cimigo

On the leisure side, hobbies and activities that can be done at home are being picked up and brands connected to these activities have an opportunity to gain growth momentum. Hobbies like gardening and cooking are becoming popular and generating demand for related products and tools.

For out of home activities, cycling continues to be a popular activity among Jakarta residents, continuing the growth trajectory of its popularity.  Travel enthusiasts need to “scale down” their holiday plans during the pandemic and have opted for a staycation or shorter trips to local destinations instead. As the hassle of boarding long-haul transport (such as planes, trains, buses or boats) has increased during the pandemic, more are opting to travel using their personal vehicle instead.

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Indonesia consumer research shows that self-improvement is also high on the list of new activities picked up during the pandemic. Online courses, webinars and classes proved highly sought after. As Work From Home (WFH) arrangements has become the norm and people spend more time at home working and learning, home office upgrades and its related products (furniture and accessories) are on the rise.

Beyond the pandemic

Consumers are increasingly choosing to resume their usual activities as much as possible within the restrictions of the post-PSBB lifestyle. While a segment of the market is likely to continue their hyper-vigilance towards the virus, many are eager to break free of all the limitations imposed on them.

Cimigo is optimistic that a gradual recovery will continue to unfold. The tug-of-war between keeping the virus in check and keeping the economic engine running will continue for some time. But we sense that many Indonesians are ready to move on cautiously and this bodes well brands and businesses in general

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Event research at the Hong Kong Rugby Sevens

Event research at the Hong Kong Rugby Sevens

The 2017 Hong Kong Rugby Sevens marked another year of Cimigo’s event research at Hong Kong Stadium, with 50 interviewers on site to measure spectator engagement at this unique, world-class event. Cimigo interviewed over 1,700 attendees and is pleased to report satisfaction with the event remains extremely high, with very strong levels of repeat attendance likely in 2018.

It was also the second year of event research being conducted at Hong Kong Sevens Central, which is a free way to enjoy the Hong Kong Sevens in the heart of Central Hong Kong. There was a great turn out of overseas and local visitors, rating the event atmosphere as world-class, and with particularly strong levels of recall for key sponsors.

With an estimated total of 63,000+ overseas visitors in attendance at both the Hong Kong Rugby Sevens and Hong Kong Sevens Central combined, Cimigo’s event research helped to measure the economic impact that these visitors have on local tourism. The Hong Kong Rugby Sevens was found to be very effective in promoting the country’s reputation and key to enhancing overseas visitors’ stay in Hong Kong.

The survey also measured sponsorship efficacy in terms of sponsor awareness, communications and impact of their individual presence. Profiling of local and overseas spectators also enabled brands to evaluate their sponsorship strategy and relationship with the Hong Kong Rugby Sevens.

Cimigo’s event research not only touched on spectator engagement, but provided a platform to test a number of ideas aimed at enhancing Hong Kong Sevens in the coming years. Some initiatives previously implemented include Women’s Sevens at the main tournament, and various promotional activities such as concerts, activations and fanzones.  We look forward to uncovering more ways to increase event satisfaction at future Hong Kong Rugby Sevens tournaments.

Look out for Cimigo Sport at upcoming major sporting events in 2018!

Cimigo Sport is a branch of Cimigo that specialises in sports research, and is committed to maximising the potential of your event. We are proud to partner with various sporting events in Hong Kong to enhance the profile of sport among the community, and promote an active and healthy lifestyle.

Teens build deep connections at Tet

Teen consumer research highlights teens delights

Cimigo’s teens consumer research covered 15 to 19 year olds in both Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. Cimigo will show that whilst there’s still a lot of feeling for some of the traditional elements of Tet (e.g. family gatherings and lucky money), teenagers in this demographic want greater independence and freedom.

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Without the pressure of school and studies and a greater exposure to ever increasing influences, teens are telling us that they want to experience more, see more and do more.

“I like to receive lucky money so that I can buy things and hang out and gamble with friends.” 16-year old, Ho Chi Minh City.


Teens relish the time with close family

Cimigo teens consumer reserach affirms that the most popular aspect of Tet for 15 to 19 year olds in Vietnam is spending more time with family. In daily life, with parents working, siblings studying or doing other activities, family time can be limited. The lunar new year holiday, with family meals and gatherings, means a greater focus on ‘together’ time for everyone. Even teens who want independence and a sense of ‘growing up’ still cherish time spent with their family.


“The party is simple but it’s so warm.” 15-year old Hanoi

Helping out gives teens a chance to demonstrate their maturity

Helping the family with Tet preparations, even though it can be hard work, gives teens a sense of pride in helping their parents. It’s seen as part of the transition to adult life, with added responsibilities, expectations, etc and also gives teens a greater connection with their family along with a change of attitude in how they’re perceived in the family group.


“When we clean the house all the family members have tasks. Parents take the first floor and we take the second floor.” 19-year old, Hanoi.


Tet pay off for teens


There’s a pay-off at Tet. Teens understand that they make a small sacrifice for their family in the days before Tet in order to get the reward of independence during the rest of the holiday. And more and more these days in Vietnam, it’s this independence that teenagers look for in the Tet holidays.

With an ever-increasing range of influences, teens are using Tet to try fresh things, perhaps visit places for the first time or try new activities. There are less restrictions than in the past, and parents are more willing to let the older children (16+ year-olds) get out more.  Cimigo found that teenagers who’ve spent many years growing up in cities enjoy visiting rural areas for new experiences, giving them a fresh outlook whilst enjoying a more simple life.

If they’re able to travel then teens tell us they would like to travel long distances to really get a feel of being on holiday, of going somewhere different. So from Saigon, for example, young adults want to get to the beaches of Nha Trang or travel even further north to Qui Nhon and Danang.


Teens take Tet to start afresh


Off course, the holidays are a time to switch off and relax. A time to forget about studies for a while and, for those with important exams ahead, recharge the batteries ready to hit the books when returning to school. During the new year break teenagers don’t want to be reminded of the pressures of studying and passing exams too much so, as well as relaxation, they’re looking for excitement, new adventures and a chance to be themselves.


“Relatives kept asking me about the University I plan to enter and started judging if I can pass”.  18-year old, Hanoi


Lucky money trade offs for teens

Finally, we can’t talk about teenagers and Tet without mentioning lucky money. As you might expect, lucky money is still seen as a big new year tradition for teens in Vietnam. For a lot of them, lucky money at Tet will be the largest sum of cash they receive throughout the year so it can be a tricky decision for some. Go and have fun with friends but miss out on cash if you’re not at home with the family!


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TET delights and tensions for Teens

It’s a sign of teenagers’ increasing maturity that they’re becoming more aware of the value and importance of money. The elder teens of today understand better that lucky money is something that can make a difference to their lives; it’s more than just small change for candies and other treats. Used wisely, teens realise that their lucky money can be used for more grown-up activities such as eating out with friends, or even short trips away.

“Last Tet I went out too much with my friends and spent lots of money. This year I’m going to stay at home for the first few days of Tet to get lucky money!” 17-year old, Ho Chi Minh City.

Whilst it’s clear that some teens continue to hold on to the traditional aspects of the lunar new year holiday, lots of teenagers’ view Tet differently. Teenagers today in Vietnam are exposed to so many more influences, and with that comes a feeling of progress and change – much like the country itself in many ways.

As a marketer, you need to adapt your strategies and messages to these changes. Vietnam is developing and so are the lifestyles of its teenagers. Let your communications show that the modern Vietnam teenager expects more opportunities; speak to their sense of freedom and maturity and their desire to move from childhood to adulthood.