Grey Group Asia Pacific
No. 1 Magazine Road #03-07 Central Mall Singapore 059567
Nirvik Singh
Chairman & Chief Executive Officer
Grey Group Asia Pacific
+65 6511 7628

Spencer Cheng
Director, Marketing & Business Development
Grey Group Asia Pacific
+65 6499 4204
Chairman's Note
The world today is increasingly a digital one. More and more consumers across Asia are going online and staying connected to the world, interacting in and with the digital world in increasing ways. The impact goes beyond how media is consumed and information is shared - it is evident that people's offline behaviours have been affected drastically.

Grey's proprietary study, Eye On Asia has interviewed over 35,000 people across the Asia Pacific till date and has been recognised as an annual trends revealer. The study aims to be the bridge for brands and the people of Asia - by understanding what the Asian consumer wants and expects out of life in an ever evolving world.

For this installment of Eye On Asia, we look at consumers across the Asia Pacific region to find out the motivations of their online behaviour. From there, we seek to uncover what are the major current and future shifts in the digital front.

I hope you will enjoy reading the study and please do not hesitate to share your thoughts with me at

Nirvik Singh
Chairman & CEO, Grey Group Asia Pacific
We embarked on a journey to better understand the 'WHY' of online behaviour.

What makes people click? Why are they shopping online? What causes are Netizens joining?

Our list of questions goes on.

To make sense of these behavioural patterns, we delved deeper into a deluge of online activities.
We dedicated over 4000 hours of research time across eight countries in Asia to study the motivations and emotions linked to each action.

Over this period, with the aid of online bulletin boards, we looked at materials posted by respondents from four different life stages - teens, young adults, young executives and the established.

We got acquainted with their interests. We listened to their songs.
We read their recommended links. And we had endless conversations.

The interactions revealed more than behaviours.

Eye On Asia - Digital unearthed SHIFTS that will forge the future of digital Asia.
Welcome to Eye On Asia - Digital. A journey to better understand the digital future.

There is an atmosphere of constant change. Seismic shifts are taking place in the digital landscape. Every. Single. Day.
As the online world interacts with nary a pause, behaviors too begin to morph at a blinding pace.
Some evolutionary. Others, revolutionary.

Today, we witness the rise of Likes, Tweets and Memes. Tomorrow, new shifts emerge.
Question is: Can we rely less on reactions and more on predictions to stay ahead of the game?
Indonesia "You can be more open and expressive online.
I know of this friend who is quiet in person yet vivacious and witty with her tweets. It gives her a space to show her other side."
Malaysia "My Twitter friends have helped me a lot in various ways.
When I'm stressed, I can just tweet whatever's on my mind. My Twitter friends have listened to lots of my problems, no matter how big or small."
What Respondents Say
Shift I
Introvert Asia will
become Extrovert Asia
Consumers' online personas are more extroverted compared to their real-life personalities.
  • - Their credibility and reputation are increasingly built through online interactions.
  • - As social interactions grow, new communication dynamics are created.
  • - Consumers are turning online acquaintances into confidantes and counselors.
  • - The digital space allows consumers to vent their suppressed emotions and communicate on their own terms.
  • - This shift gives brands the opportunity to interact with consumers who would be shy otherwise.
Finance Brands can set up forums for consumers to speak up and share ideas. Brands can then validate their opinions and hence instill confidence in their capabilities.

They can also create a step-by-step online program for helping first time investors with tips, advice and tools.
Health and Nutrition These brands can help consumers discuss dietary problems through online forums, with the option of being anonymous.

"Buyer-get-buyer" programs can be created to help people open up and discuss about sensitive health issues.
Snacking Brands can generate buzz and trial for new snacks by getting trialists to share their snacking experience through online platforms.
India "Remember when Facebook recently changed its Terms of Service to take further control over our data? They can do that whenever they want. We have no choice but to trust these companies with our security and privacy."
Australia "We need to spend more time with family and friends in person. It is something that we are losing and need to hold onto as our families won't be around forever."
What Respondents Say
Shift II
Asians will put the
internet behind bars
Consumers view the Internet as an uncaged beast that must be reined in to make the world a safer place.
  • - They are guarding their privacy with greater intensity.
  • - Consumers prefer to minimise core dependence on the Internet.
  • - People feel the need to protect real-life interactions, traditions and culture.
  • - They fear the invisible criminal lurking around the Internet.
  • - Brands can take up the role of becoming digital sieves - filtering information such as ads and contests, thereby retaining only useful information.
Finance Brands can increase engagement by putting a face to all interactions.
Health and Nutrition Brands can encourage consumers to try healthy snacks or do two-minute excercises using pop-up banners. Through interruption, these banners remind people to take a break from sitting in front of the computer for a long time.
Telecom Brands can offer cell phones with only basic functions such as voice and SMS. These are suitable for socially vulnerable groups such as the young and the aged.
Korea "In reality, it's difficult to donate as I am not financially well-off. The Internet offers me the chance to make contributions to society. I can simply post messages on a bulletin board and it's done!"
China "I can contribute towards making this world a better place from the comfort of my home. The Internet gives me the satisfaction of being able to do my part, however little it may be."
What Respondents Say
Shift III
Asians are
Karma Maximisers
Consumers believe in the philosophy that all good things will find a way back home.
  • - Consumers feel they can increase their "karma score" by clicking a button.
  • - No matter what the problem is, they believe there will be do-gooders ready to help.
  • - Consumers find their faith by paying off as digital philanthropists.
  • - By lightening their conscience, they believe they are doing good.
  • - Brands can become beacons of goodwill for consumers by helping them do good.
Durables Brands can offer free car washes or laundry days for people to pass on to their friends.
Snacking Brands can create an app where consumers can record their good deeds and redeem "karma points" to buy their products.
Fashion By giving away shoes and clothes, brands can give consumers the power to help people from poorer economic backgrounds look beautiful.
Malaysia "Well, I think the Internet is like a gigantic blank book with efficient bookmarks and infinite pages. Almost everyone can write something in that book for free. So, everyone joins in and shares the information."
India "There is a pressure to keep up since information is available so easily. I feel that I am expected to know everything!"
What Respondents Say
Shift IV
A state of
hyper kiasuism
The digital medium validates, fuels and satisfies the consumers' need to be the first to know everything.
  • - Consumers rigorously update themselves and others on the latest news.
  • - They find the need to compete with strangers and grab news to stay ahead.
  • - Consumers feel pressurised to prove themselves and keep up. So, being ahead helps them derive a sense of achievement.
  • - Brands can fuel their competitive needs by creating avenues for them to become the first to know, first to buy, first to win or first to preview.
Durables Brands can fuel competitiveness in consumers by conducting online contests to be the first few to own a new product.
Health and Nutrition By helping certain consumers gain access to the latest studies on health, brands can help them be aware of the nutritional content of certain foods before they are launched.
Fashion Brands can help consumers claim that they already have the clothes that will start the next trend.
Indonesia "During one of my dance battles, people were shouting, 'Bieber! Bieber!' I was curious so I tried to find out more about him through YouTube. After watching Justin Bieber's music videos, I started to admire him. He is very talented! I practised his dance routines and in doing so, I developed my own style."
China "I like to sing, but every time I go to a karaoke club, I'm worried that people will laugh at me. Ever since I downloaded the karaoke application from QQ, it has helped me overcome any awkwardness and pressure. I can sing all I want and won't feel embarrassed about it."
What Respondents Say
Shift V
The rise of
the mini star
Talented or not, consumers see the Internet as a platform to share their passion with the world.
  • - Through the Internet, consumers are finding ways to enhance their skills.
  • - They are publishling their passions online for all to see.
  • - They love recognition and acknowledgement.
  • - Brands can create a space where consumers can showcase what they have to offer while minimising harsh criticism.
Beauty Brands can engage consumers through an online platform where they can upload their talent videos. The best performers are highlighted in a featured section. Talent hunters can then use this platform as a source of fresh talent.
Fashion By creating a platform to recognise designers from non-fashion backgrounds, brands can give recognition to people who have come up with their own signature styles.
Telecom Brands can create an app that helps consumers compare their Klout quotient with others nearby. Top scorers will be crowned as most influential or most popular.
South Korea "I use a lot of applications to get information such as bus and subway timings.They are very handy and easy to use. I also go on the Internet to search for good restaurants when I want to try out something new. 'Colour Note' is an application that that I downloaded recently to help remind me of my daily tasks."
India "From paint colours to the layout of each room, we managed to build our dream home with the help of the Internet. Also, we did extensive online research on consumer durables and appliances before buying them for our home."
What Respondents Say
Shift VI
Asians are looking
for smart cuts
The Internet is used as a formidable tool to simplify, shorten and save.
  • - Consumers use digital tools to drive efficiency and make confident and intelligent decisions.
  • - With an insatiable appetite in adopting new applications, they take frequent virtual detours to solve immediate problems.
  • - The Internet is seen as the undefeatable Messiah.
  • - Brands need to make a visible and immediate improvement in the consumers' life; whether it's to save time, money or reduce effort.
Durables Brands can provide one-touch access to FAQs instead of making the consumer go through an entire user manual.

Short video tutorials can also be created to help them familiarise with the products faster.
Telecom To help consumers save time, brands can create apps that help track their purchases, prepare monthly budgets and pre-order these purchases.
Fashion Online platforms can be created to provide tips to help consumers create multiple styles. From office to party wear, the option to mix and match also allows consumers to pack light during overseas trips.
Singapore "I don't trust the mainstream media to be incredibly informed about these things. Online, you can get lots of people's opinions and the combination of all of them is likely to form a more accurate view."
South Korea "When I see some posts from famous bloggers, it?s obvious that they are advertising a product so I don't trust them. When I want genuine information about something, I will just search for a relevant post by an average blogger."
What Respondents Say
Shift VII
Opinions will
become reality
Consumers place more faith in the wisdom of the crowds than in certified authorities.
  • - They are constantly in search of the complete picture.
  • - Consumers trust the power of word-of-mouth and the experiences of others.
  • - Brands need to work harder to manage and drive opinions, as well as propagate good opinions and counter negative ones.
Finance Brands can create a portal to consolidate opinions and advice from netizens.

These aggregated opinions can be used to generate ratings for various finance products.
Durables By capturing "likes" and opinions, brands can create a new kind of rating scale. Products with the highest rating can be presented with the "People's Choice" award to validate these opinions.
Snacking Friends often talk about current affairs when they catch up over snacks and drinks. Brands can create public platforms for the opinions that are generated in these conversations.
Indonesia "I have a friend who stays in her dormitory all day to play Dragon Nest. She often skips classes and continues to play past midnight. Moreover, she spends excessively on expansion packs and other extra features. When the game is unavailable, she will start screaming and trashing things around."
Malaysia "We are missing that warmth from face-to-face wishes and greetings. With the internet, we just send e-greetings. It just feels like there's a lack of something - something we cannot see, like the expressions of the people when we talk to them directly."
What Respondents Say
Shift VIII
Internet becoming Asia's
biggest OCD
Consumers become increasingly addicted to the Internet.
  • - Consumers disconnect themselves from the real world and spend considerable amount of time online.
  • - They replace real feelings and emotions with automated responses.
  • - Disconnecting from the Internet leads to withdrawal symptoms.
  • - Their online peers reinforce the need to stay connected.
  • - Brands can create engagement by linking real-life moments to digital ones.
Beauty Brands can develop widgets that measure the fatigue levels of consumers through pictures they take. They can then provide tips on how to get rid of blemishes such as puffy eyes and dark circles.
Finance There is opportunity for brands to create online dashboards for consumers to monitor the status of their portfolios.
Durables A webcam brand can help mothers monitor their children while they are at the office.
Australia "I love seeing the interesting things people do and the delicious foods they eat. As a foodie, I would love to do the same, but as a poor fatty, I can't afford to. Reading the stories of other community members online keeps me entertained and happy."
China "I play this Japanese game that simulates sexual intercourse. As I am not married, I want to experience what it feels like in real life."
What Respondents Say
Shift IX
The rise of the
Experience Extremists
The absence of limitations enables anyone to realise their wildest dreams.
  • - Consumers live vicariously.
  • - They embrace the "forbidden fruit" and engage in extreme multi-tasking.
  • - Consumers believe that the Internet fulfils their imagination and dreams.
  • - They see it as a medium to escape into a world of fantasy.
  • - Brands can create delight for the consumer by refreshing everyday interactions.
Finance By getting consumers to define their dream vacation with a million dollars, brands can help them find ways to save up and turn their dream into reality.
Durables By creating apps that help visualise products when they are in use, consumers get a better understanding of how these products can benefit them in real-life.
Telecom Brands can offer consumers high speed access to two of their favourite websites with almost no lag time.
China "After buying a new car, I joined its interest group on an online forum and bought their group decal. One of the group members was getting married last week so a few other members and I volunteered to form his wedding entourage. We eventually met up and even took a photo for keepsake. Till today, we still keep in touch through the forum."
Malaysia "I love how the Internet allows me to meet people from all walks of life across geographical boundaries. These are people that I will never get a chance to meet in real life."
What Respondents Say
Shift X
Virtual to Vireal
The line between the virtual and the real becomes blurred.
  • - Consumers treat the Internet as a physical location.
  • - Consumers believe that virtual elements can complement real life.
  • - They see the Internet as a pipeline of possibilities waiting to take place in real life.
  • - Brands can integrate the online and offline experience.
Beauty By tracking the pictures consumers upload every week, skincare brands can help analyse their skin condition.
Durables Brands can develop tutorials that help consumers learn how to use a product in real-time.
Fashion Brands can engage consumers through podcasts from top designers and models.
South Korea "After enjoying discounts of 50% by buying products online, I don't think I would be comfortable paying the full price anymore. I often get the best deals by comparing prices online. This makes me feel good as I have saved money."
Japan "I love to shop online. It's as if I'm playing a game to find the cheapest price. Going through price comparison sites and sales campaigns, I feel happy when I finally land the best deal."
What Respondents Say
Shift XI
Wanting free Dessert
post free Lunch
If it exists online, it can be obtained for free.
  • - Consumers are on the constant lookout for smart ways to save money and get the best deal.
  • - They find satisfaction by making the right decision.
  • - The digital space offers higher chances of winning good deals.
  • - Brands can engage consumers by making them feel the thrill of the bargain. By converting deal hunting to a game, brands can offer better bargains for consumers who spend a long time on their site.
Beauty By creating a widget that scans deal websites, brands can help consumers source for the best deals.
Finance E-commerce websites can track online deal-hunting behaviour and suggest limited-time discounts for products.
Durables Brands can create engagement by giving away freebies based on positive word-of-mouth or the number of referrals a consumer brings to their website.
India "I can participate in causes that are important to me on the Internet. Through social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Orkut, I have supported causes such as Voice Against Tobbaco, Anna Hazare and the Cleaning Mumbai Drive."
South Korea "I have been part of a campaign to obtain signatures against government corruption. If I am part of something good, its usually through the Internet."
What Respondents Say
Shift XII
Multiple Revolutions
Consumers feel empowered by the possibility of bringing real change to the world.
  • - They are driven by the need to exert and advocate their point of view.
  • - Consumers seek to disseminate as much information to a wide audience through a democratic medium.
  • - They see the opportunity to make a difference in reality.
  • - Brands need to do more than just support a cause. They need to be accountable for their actions to gain loyalty.
Finance Brands can mount a digital campaign to fight against fine print - a focus on total disclosure of all terms and conditions.
Health and Nutrition Brands can build apps that scan barcodes or QR codes of food products. They then point out the ones that are harmful to certain health conditions.
Fashion Clothing brands can create iconic clothing to aid momentum for causes.
Australia "Two months ago, I went through depression. My doctor couldn't find out the cause so I searched for my symptoms on Google. I stumbled on a disease called Trigeminal Neuralgia and immediately knew I had that condition. You could say the Internet saved my life.
Singapore "If my investment advisor came to me with a new scheme, I can easily find out more about it online. The Internet gives me all the necessary information and confidence to go ahead and invest."
What Respondents Say
Shift XII
Imposed authority
to self authority
People become self-reliant as power is shifted back to the masses.
  • - Consumers enhance their knowledge by gaining access to previously unavailable sources of information.
  • - Consumers find that the generalist may have more credibility than the specialist.
  • - They want to take back control.
  • - Consumers want to engage with brands that help them develop skills instead of merely sharing information.
Durables TV brands can ask consumers to upload pictures of their living room along with dimensions. Thereafter, they can suggest the most suitable size and placement of TV.
Health and Nutrition Brands can create a microsite for consumers to manage their diet.
They can then educate consumers on the kind of foods that are suitable for their body type.
Snacking Brands can educate consumers on the nutritional qualities of ingredients in snacks. This gives them the assurance that the snacks they are eating are good for them.
Singapore "There are activities that I would do online where I lie about my age, appearance and gender. I will never do these in real life. The Internet is nothing more than a place for fantasy!"
Malaysia "The Internet is a huge cloud that ties all of us together in an electronic and sometimes, fuzzy world. That's because we can pretend to be somebody that we are not. Most people will not be able to tell."
What Respondents Say
Shift XIV
Multiple Masks
Consumers experiment with alter egos, revelling in the absence of restrictions.
  • - They assume new avatars and unleash inner fetishes.
  • - Consumers revel in the mask of anonymity.
  • - Brands can adapt to consumers' masks; changing their tone-of-voice when the consumer switches identity.
Health and Nutrition Brands can identify consumers' mood for the day based on a series of questions and then suggest matching foods.
Telecom Brands can provide the option of creating different avatars for different moods or contacts.
Snacking Brands can engage consumers through social media by assigning different flavours to different avatars.