3 Ways Asia’s Millennials are Shaping the Region’s Digital Economy

Opinion15.11.2016
Smartphone

If you are between the ages of 19 and 35, you represent 27% of the global population, around 2 billion. Classified as the Millennial Generation, this group makes up the young adults of the world who are increasingly contributing to global consumer spending growth, the job market, and a variety of economic prospects. Moreover, Asia takes up a significant portion of growing Millennial populations around the world, with India, China, and Indonesia holding the largest millennial populations in the region.  Asia alone takes up 58% of the global millennial population. Compared to other consumer groups, Millennials are perhaps the most influenced by changes in technology and the digital economy. There are several factors that contribute to the importance of Millennials to the region’s growing digital economy but some of the most significant include the following: 

Mobile Phone Usage

Asia holds the fastest growing mobile phone market with most Millennials spending a cumulative of 24 hours a week on their phones. That’s around 48.5 days over the course of a year. Additionally, Millennials in Thailand, China, and Malaysia spend the most number of hours compared to other Asian countries. Most of this screen time goes to interacting with content on social media platforms (46%), watching videos on digital media platforms (42%), and shopping online (12%). Businesses engaging in the digital economy therefore have the best leverage with this group of consumers through social media and online digital platforms.  

Life Habits and Changing Lifestyles

In the Asia Pacific region, Millennials make up 25% of the total workforce population in the region. With their significant contribution to the region’s economic development, businesses do face a unique challenge when considering this group’s life trends and lifestyles. While it is traditionally accepted that Asian children live with their parents into their young adulthood, 63% of millennials choose to live with their parents despite having the ability to create their own nest. Moreover, 2/3 of those who are not living with their parents choose to rent instead of buy property. 

When it comes to their working habits, this group tends to be more loyal to their companies or usually end up working for a smaller number of companies throughout their career. Additionally, when deciding on work opportunities, commuting time and office locations are on their top five priorities. At the workplace, 71% are would choose a better office environment over other work benefits/packages and they are very focused on their wellness at the workplace. In their leisure time, Asian Millennials spend 2/3 of their income on leisure, saving 1/5. Additionally, 1/4 enjoy shopping offline so as to be able to spend time with friends and family. Compared to other consumer groups, Asian Millennials love going out for entertainment. They spend 9.7 days per month doing things like dining out and going to live entertainment. 

Mobility 

Asian Millennnials are also becoming increasingly mobile, preferring overseas work assignments that take them out of their home countries. In fact, it is projected that younger generations of the Asian workforce will account for 40% to 60% of  all international work assignments by 2026. It is expected that these Asian Millennials will become the main generation group. Businesses therefore need to shift focus to mobility strategies that will accommodate this interest in having greater mobility for work. With fewer responsibilities and obligations at home, their ability to relocate and set up shop in a different country for work is a strong contributing factor to this growing interest. While most Asian Millennials prefer developed economies to set sail to, businesses in Asia can compete by offering flexibility/mobility as part of their human resources packages and increased freedom for this generation to manage their own living. 

It is no surprise that advancement in technology, changing lifestyles, and increased mobility are driving trends in the region’s digital economy if we consider the fact that Millennials make up a significant portion of the young and skilled workforce in Asia. Governments and businesses therefore need to support this demographic shift with policies and projects that seek to enhance the digital and physical infrastructures of the region that will engage Asia’s Millennials in growing the region’s economy.