Hunting down the new Malaysian Shopper

Genus: Malaysiana Modernus Urbanitis

Species: Gratifica Consumptionis

Natural habitat: Hypermarkets and Malls

6.00pm: Armed with a mobile phone, and credit card the new breed of Malaysian leaves work on the prowl for sustenance and entertainment. Its destination of choice is the shopper-tainment centre, commonly known as the hypermarket or mall. Here, the new urban Malaysian browses the shelves, checking out the latest bargains, what’s new on the market, or casually selecting from the tried and tested. On-route, it communicates with its peers, texting, tweeting, checking its Facebook, keeping pace with the rest of its tribe.

According to a recent Moving World Asia survey by Kinetic, the average Malaysian now spends an average of 10.7 hours a day outside the home on weekdays, and 7.9 hours a day outside the home on weekends; more than their counterparts in the rest of South East Asia and Hong Kong. This is due to increased leisure and recreation options in sprawling malls that are a feature of the urban landscape.

By 2025, it is estimated about 2.5 billion people or 54% of the world’s population will live in Asia’s cities compared to 25% in 1980. According to the survey, 63% of Malaysians say their favourite weekday destination is the hypermarket, at weekends this jumps to 71%, as the second most preferred destination after shopping malls.

Malaysia’s retail sector has been flagged to be a major contributor to the economy, under the Economic Transformation Programme. Currently retail activities contribute RM57 billion to the Gross National Income (GNI) employing 500,000 people. Strategies have been put in place to exponentially grow Retail as a National Key Economic Sector to contribute RM165 billion per annum to the GNI by 2020.

Brands looking to connect with the new urban breed of Malaysian can no longer afford to ignore in-store and retail as a driver for communication. Brands that ignore or discard retail media from their communication mix miss an opportunity to engage with 1.5 million shoppers who walk into a Tesco, Carrefour, Jusco or Mydin everyday.

If current economic policies are pursued these numbers can only grow. The Economic Transformation Programme calls for an increase in hyper-stores, superstores and supermarkets with the goal of increasing total retail space by 50%.

For the brand or media manager on the hunt for the new urban consumer and gratification driven consumer, now is the time to track down the beast in its natural habitat, where it shops.

These will only be sustainable if Malaysians can be driven to spend or induced to buy. And this is where brand owners and advertisers have to step up. Retail media currently makes up only 1.6% of ADEX, even though its mass and reach is now virtually on par with any traditional mass medium. In a time when traditional media is fragmenting, retail spaces consolidate the mass.