Welcome to Malaysians on Malaysia: our quarterly report on Malaysian sentiments, featuring essential insights into confidence, media trust, behavioural, tech and esport trends in Malaysia.
Our Q4 study concludes the last wave of Malaysians in Malaysia in 2018, aiming to measure and capture Malaysian’s sentiments in the areas of confidence and capturing current and future economic prospects.
Confidence Remains Stable
In our previous quarterly study, we found that index scores had settled somewhat while maintaining an overall positive sentiment. This round sees index scores continuing to improve slightly, with sentiments and outlook for the future remaining positive and strong.
Continuous Growth in Spending
This time, our study captured an incremental rate in spending, largely due to year end sales and major online sales by giant e-commerce players – further proving that the country’s economic state has improved.
In this round, we continue to cover interesting topics such as tech trends, e-wallet usage, esports, and other interesting stats.
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We spoke to 502 respondents in the following key cities: Kuala Lumpur/Petaling Jaya, Penang, Johor Bahru, Kuantan.
Our methodology was Face-to-Face interviews with Malaysians aged 18-65 years old.
The fieldwork period took place during the period of November – December 2018, which included the following significant events:
- Budget 2019 Announcement
- Anti-ICERD Rally
- Online e-commerce season – 10.10, 11.11, 12.12.
Although it doesn’t reach the highs seen right after the results of the general election in Q2, the Malaysian confidence index level sees a slight rise in Q4, indicating that sentiments are rising again after the initial cooldown period following the election.
The recent announcement of the 2019 budget had a positive impact on the confidence of citizens, as the details of the budget indicated that the government is aiming to improve the quality of living among Malaysians, especially for those in the lower to mid income groups.
Malaysians were also seen to be unaffected by the recent Anti-ICERD rally event, with Malaysians still continuing to remain positive and show support to the country.
How optimistic will consumers remain going into Q1 2019? Stay tuned for the coming Q1 2019 wave to find out.
Compared to the previous quarter, Malaysians are seen to be more optimistic with their current state of financial well-being as well as the economy.
This was made possible due to the efforts taken by the government to curb national debt, and gross domestic product (GDP) having increased by 4.7% in the fourth quarter of 2018.
However, despite the optimism, Malaysian’s confidence levels towards their own financial status and economy in the coming 12 months has seen a decline as we anticipate the effects of Budget 2019. Note that the indexes for financial well-being and the state of the economy still remain over the 100 mark.
As for spending on major purchases, the index continues to see improvement, spurred by the recent e-commerce shopping quarter 10.10, 11.11, 12.12 sales.
Across all the key cities that were surveyed, the current state of the financial well-being index has slightly increased in Q4 across all locations (except Kuantan).
This indicates that things have stabilised, with people adapting well to everything that has been going on since Q2-Q3 of 2018, i.e. the taxation transition processes, changing from GST, to zerorisation, to SST.
However, when Malaysians were asked about their financial outlook for the next 12 months, the overall sentiment sees contraction in Q4, although the index still remains on the positive side.
This can perhaps be attributed to the Budget 2019 announcement, with people being uncertain about what is going to happen and how the new budget will directly impact their livelihood and well-being. This sentiment applies particularly to those who are in the middle income group.
It would be interesting to see the effect of the Budget 2019 on this group of consumers given that the budget highlights the B40 income group – those that are in the bottom 40% of income in Malaysia.
After the tax-holiday and implementation of SST, more Malaysians affirmed in Q4 that it is a good time for major purchases, with the index rising by 12 points compared to the previous quarter and indicating an increasing trend of Malaysians being more and more willing to spend on major purchases as we head into 2019.
This is in line with the much anticipated 11.11 and 12.12 online sale, deemed as the most important period for e-commerce players and combined with the year-end sale.
Together with this, there is a spike of positive scores across all subgroups particularly the PMEBs and the higher income bracket.
For the first time since it’s inception, the index for the current state of the economy recorded above the 100 point mark in 2018. This indicates that people are feeling more confident over the current state of economy now.
Despite the economic and fiscal challenges, the government is set to expect a GDP growth of 4.7%, with more initiatives being laid out to help improve the cost of living as well as to promote the entrepreneurial culture among businesses in Malaysia.
With recent property developments in Penang and JB, the people have more reasons to show confidence in the current state of the economy.
Despite the positive outlook regarding the current state of the economy, the outlook for the state of the economy in the next 12 months dipped in Q4. This further substantiates that Malaysians are still somewhat uncertain in regards to the state of economy in 2019.
Perhaps this could be due to the speculated effects of taxation on imported services, the levy for all passengers travelling overseas via air routes, financial assistance and the third national car project. In essence, much of this uncertainty can be attributed to uncertainty about how Budget 2019 will be implemented and how it could ultimately become beneficial for the people.
This trend is seen across all segments except for the higher income group, who are seen to be more optimistic that the economy will be better off in the coming year.
In our survey of highlighted activities, we find that the index for all of our surveyed activities has decreased between Q3 and Q4, with the exception of E-wallet services, which has almost doubled in popularity since the last survey.
It will be interesting to see if the popularity of e-commerce sites and e-wallets continues to rise in tandem with Malaysian’s confidence in spending as we go into 2019.
2017 and 2018 have given us a steady stream of new e-wallet services being continuously introduced in Malaysia. Despite the large number of e-wallets now currently available, there appears to be no correlation between the amount of time that each e-wallet has been in operation and the amount of users. GrabPay continues to dominate the market as it did in Q3, with more then double the usage rate of its closest competitor: Alipay.
As e-wallet usage becomes prominent in Malaysia, we find that it’s users tend to be in the higher income bracket group, with e-wallet usage also being more popular amongst the Chinese. It is also seen to be marginally skewed towards the middle aged group (25-44 years old).
For tech trends, esports sees an increase in both awareness and familiarity between Q3 and Q4, while cryptocurrency ownership has dropped 7% in the same amount of time. Could this be a reflection of continued trends in Malaysia as we go into 2019?
As we move on from 2018, social networking sites are the most heavily consumed form of media among Malaysians, but traditional mass media in the form of television and radio still serve as mainstream forms of media and entertainment.
In terms of trusted media sources, word of mouth from trusted experts and close relatives remain at the top, and although links sent through mobile messaging services such as Whatsapp and WeChat saw a jump in Q3, they remain at the bottom of the list of trusted media sources going into 2019. Will these sources become more trusted among Malaysians in 2019 as tech trends continue? Or will Malaysians develop a greater sense of caution and skepticism when it comes to news being propagated over the internet? We will see how things go in the next wave.
As we go deeper into 2019, the outlook of Malaysians remains positive despite the numerous reasons for speculation and uncertainty such as the execution of Budget 2019.
Although Malaysians are general cautious about spending on major purchases, most people have an optimistic attitude towards their own financial well-being and the state of the economy in the coming year, believing that things are set to improve in the coming year although those in the middle class are slightly more skeptical about the effects of the new budget.
The popularity of e-wallets and esports continues to rise and may see a breakout year in 2019, with prime opportunities arising for industry players, investors and brands that wish to penetrate these markets.
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