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February 2014 Asia Trend Bulletin:
Why Asian consumers are squeezing more, more, more into every moment.


For millions of consumers in the Asian megacities of 2014, time pressure is ever more intense. Enter: the urge to CRAM as much – productivity, connection, value, fun, and more – into every moment.


Like many of their global counterparts, rising numbers of Asian consumers are saturated by choice – and they expect nothing less than this abundance of options: think a ‘buffet culture’ mindset, applied everywhere. In this context, CRAMMING becomes a vital means of coping with intensifying FOMO.

61% of Indian and 53% of Chinese youth consumers admit to currently spreading their schedules thinly to battle the ‘fear of missing out’.
(JWT, September 2013)


Meanwhile, the never-ending rush to buy, own and (constantly) use smartphones is both driving the urge to CRAM, and facilitating the satisfaction of that urge.

Every day – minute even – Asian consumers with the mindset that ‘more = better’ are taking to an abundance of apps, platforms, functions and features to digitally multi-task. The goal? To make the most of daily tasks and activities, and squeeze in as many experiences as humanly possible, into any spare moment available.

60% of Chinese consumers access the internet via their mobiles while watching television.
(KPMG Digital Debate, Jan 2013)



In Asia’s crowded megacities, moving between different physical locations is often a time killer. Meanwhile, real estate space commands an ever-greater premium (see SPACE STRAPPED, one of our key Asia Pacific trends for 2014, for more on that). No wonder a wide range of activities packed into all-in-one physical spaces is gaining an ever-broader appeal.


Many Asian consumers are early tech adopters: already moving beyond standard mobile multitasking. They’re embracing new digital tools and platforms that help them take their digital CRAMMING to the next level: think media experiences, tools and task facilitators in that offer multiple-in-one-place functionality.



Hai Di Lao
Chinese restaurant chain offers while-you-wait multitasking


Sichuanese hot pot chain Hai Di Lao is well known for its wide range of ‘on the side’ entertainment and professional services, that allow diners waiting for a table to kill time efficiently. Complimentary services include manicures, spectacles cleaning and board games, as well as a play area with organised activities for kids. In September 2013, the chain opened its first outlet in the US (in San Francisco), after expanding into Southeast Asia.

Tourist islands designed for extreme leisure CRAMMING


Due for completion by 2030, and adjacent to the South Korean city of Incheon, 8City is an ambitious one-stop tourist destination with an extensive range of features and services created to appeal to Chinese travelers. Designed in a figure ‘8’ (which traditionally symbolizes prosperity), the islands will feature luxury residences and hotels, casinos, several shopping malls, a theme park, a Formula One racing track, a concert hall, a ‘hallyu’ entertainment center, and medical tourism facilities.

Express Group
Indonesian taxi fleet install free in-car wifi


In December 2013 Indonesian taxi company Express Group installed free in-car wifi for passengers in 400 of its taxis in the notoriously traffic-laden Jakarta, Depok, Tangerang, and Bekasi areas. The six-month pilot is being run in partnership with Chinese consumer electronics brand Huawei, and will be extended if successful.

Luxury mall features communal farming space


Opened in Shanghai in May 2013, K11 is a mall featuring a communal urban farm. Using automated irrigation and soil-free methods, the farm cultivates seasonal produce such as fruit and vegetables. Shoppers spending over USD 150 in the mall are invited to use planting boxes for free to grow their own produce to take home. The farm also features a pigpen and hosts a range of events such as talks on urban agriculture.


Chinese chat app provides A-Z functionality


August 2013 saw Chinese mobile messaging app WeChat introduce mobile commerce (Xiaomi’s smartphone flash sale sold out in ten minutes), and social gaming features, as well as an official ‘sticker’ shop. While January 2014 saw the rollout of a new taxi booking and payment service via the app, with transactions already at 100,000 and counting. From free text, voice and photo messaging services in 15 languages, to social discovery features such as Drift Bottle, Shake and Hold Together, to mobile payment partnerships, the Chinese app is fast becoming the must-have app for Asian consumers.

Chat app multiplies in-app functionality


Q3 2013 saw Japanese social messaging app Line unveil three products designed to provide users with extra content. Line Novel is an e-book store and e-reader, offering users a selection of titles in partnership with Japanese publishing house Kodansha, while Line News features daily, syndicated news content curated from a range of Japanese sources. The app’s Line Mall feature is an e-commerce portal, similar to Amazon or Rakuten. Meanwhile, December 2013 saw electronics brand LG announce that it had integrated its smart household appliances – including vacuum cleaners, ovens and refrigerators – with Line.

Location-based app gathers hyperlocal news


Relaunched in June 2013, feecha is a hyperlocal news app for Singapore that provides residents with information about their neighborhood. Users select their location and then their interests, and the free app pulls relevant content from a range of newspapers, magazines, blogs and other apps. Categories include news, restaurant reviews, nightlife and fashion. Users can also bookmark and share any content.

Messaging app introduces in-chat search feature


December 2013 saw Indian messaging app Nimbuzz add a new feature that allows users to search and share listings of local companies. The service is integrated into the app’s chat function, meaning that users can find and share information such as restaurants, videos and events without having to leave their conversation.

In the Philippines, students’ textbooks via SMS


In June 2013, Philippines-based Smart Communications unveiled Smart TXTBKS: a project designed to improve education by condensing textbooks into SIM cards. The telecommunications provider worked with local book publishers to add textbook materials to the SMS inboxes of SIM cards, which were then freely distributed to kids at public schools. Thanks to the Smart TXTBKS, student attendance and test results saw improvements.

Street campaign turns dogs into on-the-go, mobile hotspots


In May 2013, Thai telecommunications provider dtac launched an interactive outdoor campaign in Bangkok to showcase its ‘Moving Wifi’ service. After attaching portable wifi-enabled devices as pet collars to a team of trained dogs, dtac took the pets around busy neighborhoods to demonstrate the ‘moving’ network. The dogs acted as wireless hotspots, enabling smartphone or tablet users in their vicinity to access and trial dtac’s internet connection for free.

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