Southeast Asia is a region of many ethnicities, unique cultures and religious diversity.
However, ASEAN countries are very tied together in terms of shared resources, business networks and trade relations. Southeast Asia was also heavily influenced by culture — something Japanese and South Korean traders had to take advantage of.
For example, Korean pop culture has found a way to gain a foothold and appeal to young people in every corner of Southeast Asia through online platforms and social media.
Along with the craze, Southeast Asians continue to patronize Korean skin care, Korean products and even Korean food.
On the other hand, popular Japanese products including gadgets and electronics, comic books and fashion journals are also widely accepted in Southeast Asia.
However, Japan’s greatest strengths in Southeast Asia are its infrastructure, intra-regional business and government networks.[ * ]
The Rise of Internet Connectivity and Smartphone Use
When it comes to internet use, Southeast Asians appear to be the most engaged compared to other regions. It also leads in mobile connections with almost 132% of the total population.
The internet sector is increasing at an astounding pace, estimated at 20% to 30% every year. In addition, it is expanding beyond the regional metropolitan area, bringing all Southeast Asians into it.
Ultimately, the COVID-19 pandemic database accelerated digital consumption in Southeast Asia especially in Indonesia, where the digital economy is expected to grow to $124 billion by 2025.
Growth in the field has also been driven by consumer behavior in the eCommerce, online travel and other online media sectors. Among young people, especially during a pandemic, social media, live streaming, mobile games and eCommerce are favorite entertainment.
Speaking of smartphone use
The largest mobile phone manufacturers from China, Japan and South Korea have also contributed to the proliferation of affordable cell phones. This enables high penetration of mobile applications such as e-commerce platforms Shopee and Lazada to rural areas.
Device activation continues to grow in the Philippines, Indonesia and Thailand. In Singapore, device activations peaked in Sale Lead 2018.[ * ] This provides lucrative opportunities for app developers and eCommerce. Platforms to grow their own user base — a strategy that Shopee does well.
Another reason for strong digital adoption in Southeast Asia is its demographics. The overall population is large and young. Although most of these young people have limited access to banking services, they are driving and enhancing digital life and consumption in the region.