APAC consumers seek sensory adventures and physical experiences: study

WGSN’s Asia Shopper Forecast 2023 dives into shopper profiles and their desires.

As the Asia-Pacific region (APAC) emerges from the pandemic, consumers are gravitating towards “hyper-physical and tactile experiences,” according to a recent Asian shopper forecast report by WGSN, a global trend forecasting firm.

In an interview with Retail Asia, WGSN Senior Consultant for APAC Jess Tang tackled these shifts in consumer behaviour which are expected to impact businesses and the retail landscape in the region.

Citing WGSN’s Asia Shopper Forecast 2023, Tang explained that APAC consumers are seeking a sense of excitement and newness after having embraced digital lifestyles during the pandemic.

“It really marks a new beginning for 2023. And that's what we're covering a few key shopper profiles in APAC, who are driving trends in a region,” she said.

Tang identified a consumer profile known as “sensory adventurers” who are looking for memorable in-person experiences, events, and activities to enrich their lives and foster creativity.

This trend is driven by a desire to return to “in-real-life experiences” as well as a fatigue with digital and virtual engagements. But this is not to set aside omnichannel retail, which Tang said will continue to be essential.
Another profile called the “phygital connector” will remain interested in the convenience of online shopping and the ease of registration and payment, she said.

These consumers will research products online and seek the best prices, while also visiting physical stores for detailed product information.

“With these omni channel strategies… they are able to access exclusive and also quality products,” Tang pointed out. “Promotions are really key for this profile.”

When asked about the age groups leading these consumer trends, the global trends expert said that while their data leans towards a younger demographic, the WGSN report did not use age groups or demographics to define profiles.

Instead, the focus of the report was on consumers’ intent, motivation, and psychographics.

“But, yes -- talking about the physical connector and the sensory adventure -- they’re a little bit younger,” said Tang, noting that the profiles could be particularly relevant to the Gen Z demographic.

In terms of the impact on the retail landscape, Tang highlighted how brands are turning their brand identity into something more interactive, with a focus on storytelling and sensory experiences.

She cited an example in Seoul where a Korean skincare brand, Sulwhasoo, hosted a month-long exhibition of international artworks, providing sensory adventurers with a cultural experience not directly related to sales.

Brands could also experiment with modular store designs to create multifunctional spaces that are more agile and responsive.

“So this really gives the sensory adventurer another reason to visit the store,” Tang said. “That taps into another kind of desire or desirable experience as part of their lifestyle.”

When asked about strategies for businesses to pursue, Tang emphasized the importance of a consumer-centric viewpoint, identifying target customers and understanding their lifestyle and shopping motivations.

With the increasing economic uncertainty and cost of living crisis, she also advised businesses to maximize value while retaining a sense of lifestyle, noting that customers feeling anxious about the future will be looking for products and services that create moments of joy.

Tang also mentioned the rise of the metaverse and the opportunities it presents for brands to connect with younger generations, offering new experiences and fostering creativity

”It’s something brands can experiment with. That’s not to say this is going to go mass because it’s still tapping into a very niche audience. But it’s something to consider when thinking about your different channels of experiences,” she concluded.

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