Emerging shopping patterns in Australia and Singapore

Ludovic Milet, Managing Director, APAC

Did you know that men spend more time looking at beauty products online than women? Well, neither did we. But a recent retail study by Toluna has discovered a few interesting, some say revealing, patterns among shoppers in Singapore and Australia.


The beauty-conscious online male shopper

Men are apparently vainer than women online – in both Singapore and Australia. Surprising, but true. Our study found that men in Singapore spend 10 per cent of their time checking out cosmetics and perfumes on their mobile devices compared to women who spend 7.6 per cent of their time doing so. In Australia, the guys devote 8 per cent of their time compared to 5.3 per cent for women.

This could be partly due to how men generally prefer spending less time in stores hence researching online first can help make a shopping trip more convenient. Browsing online also provides anonymity, which is especially useful when shoppers are searching for items that might be potentially embarrassing to shop for in stores, such as anti-ageing or hair thinning products.

In Singapore, when it comes to making purchases, men also seem to be splashing out more money than women. They not only out-spend the ladies in cosmetics and perfume, but also in clothing, personal and oral-care products.


Don’t watch me too closely, say Singaporean and Australian shoppers

Only around one in four people in Singapore are willing to have their location tracked on their mobile devices in exchange for discounts, according to Toluna’s study. Slightly over three quarters of the study’s respondents also expressed concern about the privacy implications of receiving such offers on their devices.

In Australia, even fewer people were willing to reveal their whereabouts – around one in five consumers. Some 66 per cent of respondents were worried about their privacy being infringed. In both countries, men were more willing than women to reveal their whereabouts.

Despite the privacy concerns, consumers in Singapore are more willing to receive personalised product recommendations than those in Australia. Nearly 60 per cent of respondents in Singapore were open to receiving such suggestions compared to only 36 per cent in Australia.


Connecting retail across all channels

Most shoppers still prefer browsing and purchasing items in stores. However, compared to Australia, Singapore consumers tend to place more value on integration across various retail channels such as online platforms, mobile devices and brick-and-mortar stores.

In Singapore, more than three quarters of the study’s respondents viewed such connected retail as valuable compared to over half in Australia. A higher proportion of Singaporeans had also used connected retail before as compared to Australians. Consumers in both countries ranked product comparisons and descriptions as the top areas of connected retail that need to be improved.

In Australia, the most common feature of connected retail was  ‘click and connect’ in which retailers allow shoppers to purchase items online and then collect them at a store. This was especially popular for tech-related purchases. In Singapore this feature was more commonly used for clothing purchases.


The typical online shopper in Singapore and Australia

No one can deny that online shopping has grown tremendously in recent years. However, when it comes to the food and drinks category, consumers in both Singapore and Australia still prefer to make trips to stores.  This might change in the future as Toluna’s study also found that there is a growing tendency for those below 45 years old to buy food and drink items online and on their mobile devices.

Predictably, those above 45 years old tend to make fewer online purchases compared to a younger demographic. For instance, in Singapore, those between 18 and 44 years old make nearly two thirds of their travel purchases online, while those 45 years old and above chalked up just under half of their buys in the cyber world. The younger group also makes nearly one third of their clothing purchases on the web compared to 13 per cent for the older demographic.

In both Singapore and Australia, the younger age group considers themselves more likely to make impulse buys while the older group tends to be more price sensitive. The spending patterns in both countries also differ across various age groups. In Australia, the younger generation spends more on tech items and appliances while in Singapore the reverse is true with those above 45 years old spending more on such products.

Overall, Singaporeans fork out almost double the amount of money on travel and financial products compared to Australians. A consumer in Singapore spends an average of S$441 per month on travel as opposed to S$226 per month on travel for an Australian consumer.

For financial products, the amount was S$390 on average per month for the Singaporean consumer compared to S$183 per month for the Australian consumer. However, the sum spent on food was higher in Australia than Singapore by nearly $70 per month.

I guess the foodies in Singapore might have a thing or two to say about that!