U.S. consultant says ASEAN is ready for rapid progress

Boston-based management consultancy Bain & Company said last week that Thailand and the other nine members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) are ready to make a “tremendous leap forward in socio-economic progress” in the post-pandemic world.

“Over the next decade, the region will be the world’s fourth-largest economy, with a $4-trillion consumer market,” wrote Praneeth Yendamuri and Zara Ingilizian of the World Economic Forum (WEF).

“While Covid-19 will cause a significant economic impact with potential GDP contractions this year, the 10 ASEAN member states are poised for a tremendous leap forward in socioeconomic progress based on their long-term fundamentals,” they wrote.

Bain conducted a survey in April earlier this year and found that a majority of ASEAN chief executives believe pandemic-related restrictions will last through the third and fourth quarters of 2020, with economic recovery arriving in mid-2021.

“The pandemic has caused noticeable changes in consumer behavior. Some of those changes bring short-term volatility while others will alter consumer relationships and spending patterns in the longer term,” the columnists wrote.

They cited several trends that they believe would shape ASEAN in the post-pandemic environment. Among them were that consumer spending would double, driven by a middle-class boom. They forecast that by 2030 over 70 percent of people in ASEAN will be middle class, and they will drive a boom in consumption.

“Digital ubiquity will become the norm. The pandemic is accelerating the digital future, with many consumers making their first digital purchases and existing consumers spending more time online. In Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam, consumers clock an average 4.2 hours of mobile screen time daily, or 1.2 times the global average,” they wrote.

Other important trends they believe will guide progress include technology tearing down socio-economic walls, and sustainability will become non-negotiable when consumers make lifestyle and product choices.

Photo courtesy of https://www.bain.com/insights/preparing-for-the-digital-age-in-asean-video/