For 589 million people in Southeast Asia (SEA), 1 a decade of new possibilities has dawned. The region’s digital economy is moving from resilience to resurgence, paving the path for a roaring future, one where the internet economy is projected to reach a $ 1 trillion gross merchandise value (GMV) by 2030.2 This forecast, and fresh insights on opportunities for growth in the region’s digital economy, are detailed in the latest e-Conomy SEA report by Google, Temasek, and Bain & Company.
Our extensive research and analysis show that pandemic-driven shifts in consumer behavior are expected to have a lasting impact on key growth drivers in the internet economy: e-commerce, food and transport, online media, online travel, and digital financial services. To unlock the massive opportunity for business growth, brands need to know what it takes to meet consumer expectations and increase customer satisfaction. Here, we share what the state of the region’s internet economy in 2021 and this decade means for brands and marketers.
Consumption of digital services is the new way of life and set to power ahead
Not only has the region continued to add new internet users in 2021, the number of digital consumers, or users who have paid for an online service, has also increased. For a start, the region added 40 million new internet users this year, on top of the 40 million people who came online in 2020. This brings the region’s internet penetration to 75% .3
Additionally, 60 million people started using a digital service for the first time following the pandemic, and one-third of them only started doing so in 2021.4 Furthermore, adoption of digital services remains robust in 2021, with growth across services ranging from e-commerce to food delivery and ride-hailing.
Percentage of internet users across digital services
Beyond continued adoption of digital services, consumers are deepening their usage. On average, they made purchases in almost four more digital services than they did before the pandemic. 5 Their frequency of use and spend across digital services is also increasing, especially for services such as groceries and food delivery. Six in 10 existing users of these two digital services increased their spend and usage frequency since the start of the pandemic. 6
Indeed, consumption of digital services is the new way of life and it is expected to power ahead in the coming digital decade. Already, 80% of digital consumers in the region are satisfied with digital services, 7 and 9 in 10 new consumers who started using digital services in 2020 continue to do so in 2021.8