Southeast Asia kids blowing their pocket money on snacks not toys and are shy of e-commerce

Unlike in the West, Children in Southeast Asia are far more likely to spend their pocket money on snacks or confectionary than books, toys or computer games, and online spending activity is very low among younger age groups, research from SuperAwesome has found.

SuperAwesome data

Despite the sharp rise of e-commerce activity in Southeast Asia in recent years, 64% of 6­-14 year olds in the region claim never to make purchases online or spend their pocket money on digital products, and Thailand is the only country where kids spend any money on apps.


SuperAwesome data

In the study of 1,800 kids in Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam by kids platform SuperAwesome, on average 65% of six-­14s claim to spend their pocket money on drinks and snacks, and only 44% spend on toys and less than 15% on computer games.

This is in contrast to British kids of the same age, who favour spending their pocket money on games (63%), clothes (45%) and eating out (33%).

Awareness of snack brands such as KFC, Milo, Paddle Pop, Ovaltine and McDonald’s is far higher (75%) among Southeast Asia kids than of global toy brands (35%) like Nerf, My Little Pony and Hot Wheels. The exception is Singapore and Malaysia, where kids are au fait with toy brands such as Lego.

Vietnam stands out as a market where books are a popular item for kids to spend pocket money on, Thailand for eating out and Indonesia for drinks, snacks and confectionary.

Quan Nguyen, director of SuperAwesome, said that since FMCG companies were much earlier to enter ASEAN markets than toy brands, and toy brands have been sold through local distributors and have enjoyed far smaller marketing budgets. “But this is changing with the entry of the likes of Lego, Hasbro, Mattel. They are here and leveraging tactics from the West, but they need to catchup to reach the affinity levels of FMCG brands,” said Nguyen.

Digital activity is low among youngsters in the region because you don’t need to go online to buy a bar of chocolate or a can of Coke, but also because online spending, particularly for kids under the age of 13, starts with parents, said Nguyen.

Even then, cash is still the preferred payment method in Southeast Asia, and trust of online transactions remains relatively low and fear of fraud is high, he said. Plus, many shops load free apps for customers on to your phone without the need for an account or a credit card.

The rapid uptake of smartphones and social apps in Thailand has led to the uptake of apps among Thai children, particularly the popular LINE chat app through which e-commerce is possible, Nguyen added.


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