Much has been written about the pandemic’s impact on Asian consumers: how they embraced new ways of shopping, as well as how retailers and consumer goods companies were forced to quickly adapt their business models.
Now, the focus has shifted to whether many of these patterns and preferences will endure once the pandemic abates and whether today’s geopolitical and macroeconomic instability will slow a full spending recovery.
The current phase is accompanied by no small amount of uncertainty and potential disruption. Recent infection spikes serve as a reminder that the world is not yet in the clear. Macroeconomic factors (such as rising inflation and an economic slowdown) and geopolitical disruptions (such as the war in Ukraine, which has resulted in a massive humanitarian and refugee crisis; soaring prices for essentials; a rotating energy policy; threatened food security; an intensifying race for critical materials, equipment, and commodities; and reconfigured global value chains and sourcing strategies, among others1 ) have added to the mixed outlook among consumers. Amid this uncertainty, one thing is clear: consumers are unlikely to fully return to their prepandemic behavior.
This article, based on the most recent McKinsey Consumer Pulse Survey across six Asian countries, as well as previous editions of the survey from the past two years, seeks to understand how Asian consumer preferences are being shaped by the latest disruptions and what companies can do to respond.
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