Economic prospects and political stability top local consumers' concerns, with over 60 percent of survey respondents expressing their fears about the two issues over the next six months, according to a report released by market research firm ACNielsen yesterday.
The report, conducted in 28 markets across the Asia-Pacific, Europe and the US between Sept. 28 and Oct. 8, showed that 66 percent of the 14,134 respondents view the economic outlook as an issue more important than health, employment, terrorism, political situation, public security and war.
While a global average of 36 percent worry about local political development, Taiwan is ranked second with 61 percent showing low sentiments in domestic politics, after India's 77 percent.
"Although public concern about the March presidential election and the following disputes have eased up compared with the first half of the year, people's worries are again escalating as the year-end legislative elections are approaching," said Titan Wang (王德林), managing director of ACNielsen Taiwan.
An interesting phenomenon shown in the report, entitled "Global Consumer Confidence Study," is that only 23 percent of Taiwanese people are concerned about war, despite on-going tension between Taipei and Beijing, while 11 percent are afraid of terrorist attacks.
In stark contrast, the US market shows the most concern about the economy and terrorism, while domestic politics is the issue people worry about the least.
Looking ahead, 53 percent of Asia-Pacific consumers are bullish about an economic upturn next year, with those in China (78 percent), India (77 percent) and Indonesia (76 percent) expressing extreme optimism. This compares with the US' 43 percent and Europe's 31 percent.
"Consumer confidence in the Asia-Pacific remains strong with the region's consumers standing out as the most upbeat out of all three regions surveyed. This will be music to the ears of investors, who may have been hesitant in investing in Asia, as they wait for signs that Asia has emerged from its economic doldrums," said Bienvenido Niles, president of ACNielsen Asia-Pacific.
However, only 32 percent of Taiwanese respondents share the same optimism, a drop of 19 percent from the firm's survey in May. In contrast, 34 percent of Taiwanese worry that the economy might deteriorate in the next 12 months, an increase of 6 percent from the May survey.
Local consumers' more conservative attitude toward economic prospects is also reflected in their discretionary spending, as shown in the survey.
Fifty-two percent of Taiwanese consumers choose to save their spare cash in banks and 46 percent would spend money on entertainment activities. Only one-third opt for shares or mutual fund investments.
Around 25 percent would take local or international holidays, making Taiwan the No. 4 country after Singapore, Sweden and Denmark in the survey to see more private spending on tourism.