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Market Watch

Will the COVID-19 Pandemic Still Be with Us Throughout 2021?

In InsightXplorer’s most recent survey in early February on the impact of the coronavirus on spending behavior, Taiwanese felt pretty much the same about the general environment as they did in a previous survey in November 2020. The share of respondents feeling that things would get better in the next 12 months rose slightly to 31% while those feeling things would get worse fell to 26.9%. Though confidence was up, respondents predicted it would take 9.37 months for life to return to normal, up from 8.98 months in the previous survey. Thus, though COVID-19 vaccines have arrived, Taiwanese expect the impact of the coronavirus to continue to be felt throughout 2021.

Chart: InsightXplorer

Source: InsightXplorer, 2021 online survey

How Sentiment over the Coronavirus Is Affecting Consumer Behavior

  • Because this InsightXplorer survey was conducted just before the new Lunar New Year in mid-February, the results were affected by plans for additional consumption ahead of the holiday. Increases were seen in respondents’ anticipated spending, with the rise as high as 15% among those aged 30-39.
  • Respondents planned to spend more on medical/health supplements than any other product category, while the highest growth in planned spending was in the dining/entertainment category, reflecting higher anticipated spending on entertainment during the holiday. Worth noting is that the holiday spending surge also sparked plans to spend more on electronics goods, home appliances and cosmetics. Spending in these categories had slumped at the end of 2020 but now appears back on the rise.
Chart: InsightXplorer
  • Respondents cited stocks (including ETFs) as their preferred investment option, beating out “holding cash” for the first time. Funds, foreign currencies, and insurance were also cited as favored investment vehicles in the current economic environment, but the relative interest in all types of investments was on the rise compared to past surveys.  
Chart: InsightXplorer
  • More than 70% of respondents were engaged in financial planning, little changed from previous surveys. Financial planning awareness was roughly the same across different age groups. Overall, the survey found that the older people were, the more likely they were to use financial products. Individuals in the 18-29 age bracket were clearly less likely than other age groups to use financial products, but roughly half of them still used savings accounts and credit cards. Those two financial products were the most used among all age groups.
  • There were some obvious differences in consumer behavior by age group in the February survey:
    • Those aged 30-39 planned to increase their spending the most, while the biggest rise in planned spending in the medical/health supplement category was seen among those aged 50-60. Although planned spending on luxury goods fell the most, the degree of decline was less noticeable among 18-29-year-olds.
    • Opinion leaders (the first to get new information and follow the latest trends) and “amplifiers” (those who spread the word on trends) had bright outlooks toward the future – among amplifiers, 42.4% felt the overall environment would get better in the coming 12 months. The planned spending of both of these groups rose 10% from the previous survey, indicating potentially strong purchasing power this month.

Source: Engagement Lab & InsightXplorer, February 2021 Online Survey

How Sentiment over the Coronavirus Is Affecting Online Economic Activity

Online Shopping

  • Shopping is the second most common online activity, trailing only the use of communication tools and search engines, a reflection of the vibrant online economy. Online shopping has grown by more than 40% during the COVID-19 pandemic, while shopping at physical stores has fallen 35%. Spending trends have followed a similar path. Prior to the outbreak, the amount spent online and in physical stores was roughly the same, but since the outbreak began, some planned spending has shifted online, with online spending among those aged 49 and under overtaking spending in brick and mortars.
  • Whether online or in physical stores, people tend to spend the most on “food, beverages, and restaurant vouchers,” then “clothes and accessories.” But there are differences in which channel consumers are more likely to use depending on the product. Consumers were more likely to shop for essential items such as “food, beverages, and restaurant vouchers” in stores and for more expensive electronic goods such as “PC, PC accessories, and software” and “cameras, mobile phones and headphones” online.  
  • By age group, nearly half of people under 30 have engaged in cross-border shopping. Though consumers in their 40s and 50s are less likely to shop across borders online, they have shown the biggest increase among all age groups in cross-border shopping during the COVID-19 outbreak, in part because of their inability to go abroad. More than 30% of consumers in the 40-49 age group are shopping more frequently on international websites since the outbreak began, and 32.5% of consumers in the 50-59 age group have increased the frequency with which they buy overseas goods online through domestic agents. As long as overseas travel is restricted because of the coronavirus, shopping across borders online or buying imported goods could continue to serve as an alternative. 
  • The February survey also found that 9-16% of all age groups had resorted to TV shopping in the previous six months, reflecting the diversification and fragmentation of consumption models.

Mobile Payments

  • Mobile payment usage is the highest (78.4%) among 30-39-year-olds and the lowest in the 18-29 age group (68.0%). Consumers aged 18-29 prefer to make payments by linking the payments to a debit card, unlike other age groups, who tend to tie their mobile payment accounts to credit cards. The findings indicate an opportunity to further engage young consumers using the mainstream marketing strategy of linking a credit card to mobile payment rebates.
  • Though mobile payments are mostly used in brick and mortars, their usage still grew during the COVID-19 outbreak because they are contactless.
Chart: InsightXplorer

Source: Engagement Lab & InsightXplorer, February 2021 Online Survey

Starbucks Magic – Spend Some Time with a Coffee

Starbucks has launched a new ad with the slogan “It Starts with You.” The cleverly shot ad reminds consumers that coffee is everywhere and an integral part of their lives.

Source: Brain Magazine
Full article

‘Paradise 2M’: Your Only Opponent in Life Is Yourself! New Ad Video Released

NCSoft’s mobile game “Paradise 2M” will be officially launched in Taiwan and Japan at midnight on March 23. During the advance booking period for the game program that started on Jan. 8, more than 3.52 million bookings have been made in the two and a half months since, breaking the Taiwanese mobile game record for advance bookings. When you open the game on March 24, an ad featuring game spokesperson Takeshi Kaneshiro will also appear.

Source: Newtalk
Full article

Foot Traffic & Marketing Strategy: IKEA’s Move Away from Dunhua N. Rd.

Distribution channels must have their product mix and pricing work in harmony with their main customer segments and those customers’ behavior and needs to maximize their synergies. IKEA’s store on Dunhua North Rd. was unable to do that, and faced several problems that led the chain to move out.

  • ot in sync with profile of consumers in the surrounding area:The area has high foot traffic and passersby, but that can lead to many people entering the store simply for a bite to eat and then leaving – buying only high-volume low-cost goods rather than low-volume high-cost goods. That made it hard to increase average customer spend, leaving IKEA selling low-margin products in a high-rent district.
  • No parking spaces in the neighborhood: This is a basic requirement of consumers who buy furniture. For family customers, driving is standard behavior, and they need cars to drive their purchases home. Having IKEA deliver goods requires a high spending threshold or high transportation costs, which are deterrents to the purchase of bigger-ticket items and encourage consumers to only buy low-cost goods.
  • Limited space not large enough to full showcase the immersive showcase experience
Photo: IKEA

Source: Business Next
Full article

Who Came Out Ahead from the ‘Salmon’ Name Chaos? What Was Sushi Restaurant Thinking?

The topic itself is never the main impetus in creating a “hot topic” but rather the topic’s ability to provoke controversy and discussion. The stir over sushi restaurant chain Sushiro’s offer to provide free meals to people with the Chinese characters for salmon (鮭魚) in their name turned into such a “hot topic” because it triggered “conflicting” views. Different from past controversies, it used “names” for its promotional campaign.

The short-term exposure gained benefited the chain in three ways:

Brand recognition:Three mass-market Japanese sushi chains – Kura Sushi, Sushiro, and Hama Sushi – have all opened outlets in Taiwan. Consumers who are unaware of or have not explored the differences between the three chains will now choose “Sushiro” based on their “impression” because it is the only brand they have heard of.

Topicality: In a short period of time, media coverage has focused heavily on this topic, and dozens of fan groups/social media sites have created several derivative works related to it. The most valuable of those has been YouTubers helping the restaurant with what amounted to advertorials for the brand.

Brand culture: That the promotion was closely tied to the restaurant’s name created an important “brand asset.” The promotion can be used every year in the future and play again and again on “customer memories” for another 5-10 years. The campaign can be internalized and forge a brand culture.


Source: Cheers & Domyweb
Full articles:

Full articles:

Behind the Seemingly Crazy ‘Salmon’ Name Chaos: 4 Psychological Factors

The promotion led to people changing their Chinese name to “salmon” to take advantage of the promotion. There are some psychological factors behind this phenomenon:

1.  Immediate benefits trump all: People tend to make choices that provide immediate satisfaction

2.  Framing effect (name can be changed multiple times, so you have to take advantage of special offer): In a study by Tversky and Kahneman in 1981, they proposed the idea of a “framing effect” and found that people tend to favor sure gains and stay away from definite losses.

3.  Herd mentality (others have changed their name, so there’s no reason for me not to): The name-changing wave was influenced by heavy media coverage. It led to the perception that “everyone was doing it,” creating a herd mentality. Though the phenomenon may be hard for consumers to understand in the moment, it is one of the most effective forms of marketing.

4.  Mood management theory (pent-up consumption caused by the pandemic?): According to mood management theory, people will be influenced by media and take advantage of available choices to optimize their mood. Applying it to this situation, people may have been somewhat depressed for a year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and hoped that by resorting to the crazy behavior of changing their name and getting a good meal for free, they could get back into a good mood.

Full articles:

Tourism Industry Update

Taiwan Outbound Departure Statistics, February 2021

1.     Taiwanese went abroad 36,681 times in February 2021, down 93.89% from the 603,211 times they went abroad in February 2020 when the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on travel started to be felt.

2.     The two top destinations for outbound travelers in February 2021 were China (20,347) and the United States (4,369). The next top destinations were Macau (3,071), Vietnam (1,738), Hong Kong (1,432) and Japan (878). Travel to all six destinations plunged from a year earlier due to COVID-19, falling by as much as 99.60% to Japan.

3. Despite the major drop in outbound departures compared to a year earlier, the February total was the highest since August 2020 (37,786) and 75% higher than in January 2021. That may have been because of the many Taiwanese who returned home to celebrate the new Lunar New Year in mid-February and then went back to where they live and work (China and the United States).

Charts: Tourism Bureau, Ministry of Transportation and Communications
Charts: Tourism Bureau, Ministry of Transportation and Communications

Source: Tourism Bureau, Ministry of Transportation and Communications

DGBAS Latest Economic Indicators for January 2021

Chart: Directorate General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics (DGBAS)
  • The Consumer Price Index (CPI) rose 1.37% in February 2021 compared to the same month in 2020, while the Wholesale Price Index fell 0.35% in February from a year earlier.

Charts: DGBAS

  • There were 11.51 million people employed in February 2021, and 443,000 people who were unemployed. The nominal unemployment rate for the month was 3.70%, and 3.73% after seasonal adjustments. The labor participation rate was 59.11%.
  • The average regular salary of workers in Taiwan in January 2021 was NT$43,125, up 2.07% year-on-year. Average monthly earnings (including bonuses, overtime and other irregular income) were NT$75,145, up 23.92% from a year earlier. Regular wages for hourly workers in January were NT$193 per hour, up 1.58% year-on-year.

Source: DGBAS Leading Indicators

Dream Cruises 2021 Island-hopping Schedule Begins

With spring on the way, Dream Cruises has launched its March Explorer Dream island-hopping cruises that will take passengers to the Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu islands and Hualien. The cruises will explore Taiwan’s beauty from the sea while highlighting the culture of other lands and a unique wedding photo package, creating innovative ways to enjoy a cruise. A new feature – “10 Check-in Hotspots” – will be unveiled that converts the cruise liner into a photo studio at sea, providing great opportunities for taking unique pictures during the journey.

Photo: Dream Cruises

Source: 7totravel (
Full article:

Personal Travel to Return in Second Half of 2021: IATA Director

Alexandre de Juniac, the director of the International Air Transport Association (IATA), has said in an interview with the Straits Times that as borders reopen to tourists hungry to be free again and reunite with families and friends, personal and leisure travel will return in the second half of 2021. “We will likely start seeing a change in the air travel landscape after May or June this year,” he said, with the recovery in business travel slower than for personal travel.

Source: Central News Agency, Straits Times
Full article:

Countries Planning a ‘Vaccine Passport’; Could Taiwan Be Left Behind?

Many countries, including Israel, South Korea, Thailand and those in the European Union, have raised the idea of a “vaccine passport” that enables people who have been vaccinated against COVID-19 to freely enter various venues and travel across borders. But some experts worry about ethical issues, such as people in poorer countries with less access to vaccines being marginalized. It could also pose a problem for Taiwan, where there is some reluctance to get vaccinated.

Source: The News Lens
Full article:

Post-pandemic Travel Models: Travel Bubbles, Vaccine Passports

Many countries are considering lifting border restrictions and creating “travel bubbles” to inject new economic life into tourism sectors battered by the COVID-19 pandemic. Taiwan and its Pacific ally Palau, for example, have set up a travel bubble that will take effect on April 1. At the same time, the European Union has broached the idea of a “vaccine passport” that would allow people who have been vaccinated and tested negative for COVID-19 to travel. But because some epidemic prevention measures would remain in place, these new travel models will likely not restore travel to pre-pandemic levels on their own.

Source: Storm Media
Full article:

Media News

Strong Growth in SE Asia Digital Economy: 40 Million New Internet Users in 2020

An i-Buzz Asia report on internet usage in Southeast Asia has found that the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the development of the digital economy. In 2020, there were 40 million people in Southeast Asia who used the internet for the first time, bringing the total population of internet users in the region to 400 million. What digital devices are they used to using? What are the internet penetration rates by country and when do people usually go online? On what types of social media are people most active?

  • SE Asians more used to using mobile phones than desktops or tablet computers

The digitization of Southeast Asia has progressed rapidly. The first digital device most people come in contact with are smartphones rather than computers.

  • Internet penetration rate on the rise, biggest increase seen in Indonesia

Of six Southeast Asian countries surveyed, Indonesia’s internet penetration rate is growing the fastest, expected to rise more than 15 percentage points in 2021, representing 27 million new users.

  • Long periods of time spent online; Philippine users lead the world

People in Southeast Asia spend a substantial amount of time on the internet compared to users around the world. Users in the Philippines, Thailand and Indonesia all rank in the top four worldwide in time spent online per day, with Philippine users leading the world by spending an average of 5 hours, 54 minutes on the internet daily. Netizens in those three countries along with Malaysia and Singapore all average more time online per day than the global average (3 hours, 40 minutes).

Chart: i-Buzz Research
  • Social media usage varies widely in the region

Unlike Taiwan’s forum-based word-of-mouth electronic environment, netizens in Southeast Asia’s six major countries primarily use internet media that are heavily dependent on social communities (such as on Instagram and Facebook).

Source: i-Buzz Asia
Full article:.

Facebook Takes Steps to Punish Group Members Who Break Rules

Facebook has decided to take action to curb the spread of harmful content, such as hate speech and misinformation, so that people can discover and engage safely with Facebook groups. The moves also make it harder for certain groups to operate or be discovered. “Groups and members that violate our rules should have reduced privileges and reach, with restrictions getting more severe as they accrue more violations, until we remove them completely,” Facebook said. “When a group repeatedly breaks our rules, we take it down entirely.”

Photo: Tech News

Source: Tech News, Facebook
Full articles:.

Instagram Introduces Live Rooms, Allows 4 People to Go Live at Once

Over the past year, Instagram Live has featured many interesting topics, including talks on science and COVID-19, interviews with celebrities and record-breaking rap battles. But Live only enabled two people to video chat in a live broadcast. The new Live Rooms enables four people to video chat live and also gives creators more ways to build a business and earn money. “We can’t wait to see what more creativity comes from this highly requested update,” Instagram said.

Image: Instagram

Source: INSIDE, Instagram
Full article:

‘Donations’ Possible on Facebook! Paid Online Events Launched in Taiwan

To support creators and small and medium-sized enterprises, Facebook has launched a paid online event feature in Taiwan that enables Facebook Pages to use livestreams to host paid events on a wide range of topics, from cooking and hairstyling to exercise. They could also involve lectures, podcasts, plays, sports events or other formats. The new feature will create more lively interaction within social groups, reduce the adverse impact of COVID-19 on personal interaction, and give creators the chance to develop their ecosystems.

Image: Facebook

Source: Techbang
Full article:

IQIYI Knocked Out of Top Spot! Taiwan’s Top 10 Subscription Streaming Services

According to the National Communications Commission 2020 report on digital convergence, Taiwanese aged 16 and over used smartphones more often than any other device to watch video content. Some 54.5% cited smartphones as their preferred device for consuming videos, up from 27.4% in the 2017 report and 50.7% in the 2019 report. Television (not connected to the internet) came in second at 25.2%, continuing its decline from 34.1% in the 2017 report.

Table: National Communications Commission (NCC)

The report also listed the top 10 subscription movie and video streaming services in Taiwan, with Netflix overtaking iQIYI for the top spot in 2020, relegating the Chinese service provider to second. The others, in order, were KKTV, FriDAY Video, FOX+, LINE TV, Hami Video, PTS+, myVideo and WeTV (Tencent).

Source: Liberty Times
Full article:

Case Study

National Treasury Administration – Illicit Tobacco/Alcohol Awareness Campaign

Campaign Background
The campaign was devised to harness public participation in combating illegal activity and maintain a safe environment for consumers. It urged people to avoid buying counterfeit or illicit tobacco and alcohol products and raised awareness that the sale of alcohol on the internet is prohibited. It also encouraged the public to report illegal behavior and provided channels through which tip-offs could be provided.

Phase I: Combating illicit tobacco/alcohol products
Description: The main visual on the campaign’s web page showed that people could earn rewards for reporting cases of illicit tobacco and alcohol products, and asked the public to help crack down on such products. The website also provided information on how to identify illicit tobacco and alcohol products, how to guard against them, and how to report them to authorities.

Online Activity
Used eye-catching images of animals as suspects to draw attention to questions related to illicit alcohol and tobacco products; consumers who correctly answered the questions were eligible to participate in a lucky draw.

Activity Impact
Duration online: Sept. 19, 2020 to Oct. 18, 2020 (Total 30 days) – more than 7,000 people participated

Phase II: Focus on prohibition of selling alcohol online
Description: The main visual on the campaign’s web page stressed that alcohol cannot be sold online, and that those who do can be fined up to NT$50,000. The website also explained why selling alcohol online is not allowed and three common scenarios of how alcohol ends up being sold on the internet illegally.

Online Activity
Hosted on the National Treasury Administration’s Facebook Page, the activity asked questions of consumers and had them take a screenshot of the correct answers from GIFs and post them in the comments section to be eligible to participate in a lucky draw.

Activity Impact
Duration online: Oct. 20, 2020 to Nov. 20, 2020 (Total 30 days) – Activity posts reached nearly 100,000 people, and they drew more than 8,000 Likes, nearly 10,000 comments and nearly 6,000 shares. More than 7,000 people clicked the icon to participate in the campaign.


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