Malaysia is a plural society, which consists of 3 major races – Malay, Chinese and Indian. As of April 2013, the population in Malaysia was estimated to be 29,620,200. Out of this number, the Bumiputeras including the Malays were 62.3%, the Chinese 22%, the Indians 6.7%, other races (citizens)0.9% and non-citizens at 8.1%. Malaysia is truly blessed with its diverse culture.
Despite its booming economy, being the third largest economy in Southeast Asia and ranked 12th out of 135 economies in the World Bank report in 2013, Malaysia is however still stuck in a middle-income trap. 40% of Malaysian workforce earning between RM2,300 – RM7,000 are the ones who form this group. They are mostly the taxpayers and a vast majority of them drive consumer spending for the domestic economy.
With a large population comes under the middle-income category, it is a common phenomenon among Malaysians’ purchasing behaviours are often price-conscious. Our government is also running campaigns reminding Malaysian consumers to spend wisely with their daily expenses.
Perhaps the realignment of lifestyle could be changed again, when the introduction of GST (Goods and services tax) by our Prime Minister take place in April 2015. The middle-income group is most likely to experience price pressure, and as a result they have to spend lesser (and wiser) than before.
This social status has also attracted many Hypermarkets to set foot into Malaysia and the trend can be seen especially in the urban areas. The concept of hypermarket that sells products at affordable prices has been introduced to local retailers. Even Malaysian entrepreneurs are encouraged to sell products through hypermarkets to add on to their income.
If you happen to walk around these hypermarkets, there are advertising boards at almost every corner of the walkways promoting the “spend less, save more” concept. This message does come with good cause especially 56% of Malaysians engaged in grocery shopping as one of the three common activities on a weekly basis. This does not only help inform the middle-income consumers, but typically price-conscious consumers are their main concern.
Having said that, eating-out pattern is still a common phenomenon among Malaysians despite more choices of great value brands at hypermarkets and increasing higher cost of living. Most working adults eat-out during their breakfast or lunch. Some even continue to patron food premises with family members for dinner especially when both parents are working adults and food is not prepared at home. Families also often spend their weekend at shopping complexes and take the opportunity to dine out as they necessitate spending more time together with their children instead of cooking on weekend.
To say that Malaysian consumers are increasingly health-conscious could be a general statement. Many factors have caused this phenomenon to arise. The increase of work force; distance of work place to home; exhaustion from work; time constraint to cook; variety of hawker stalls choices or dining for special occasion could all be the possibilities of preference to eating out.
Few things that keep me thinking about Malaysian’s ways of doing and their lifestyle
- Are they conscious about the choice of food they purchase?
- Do they consume the food with nutrition awareness?
- What concern them the most if they were to choose between buying grocery for healthier home cook food and saving more time for a variety of choices to eating-out?
- Will their lifestyle change if grocery shopping becomes a breeze to them?
- What helps to ease grocery shopping and choosing healthy product with only a glance?
As I look at myself swimming in the middle-income swamp, I believe we are still able to live comfortably despite the social status that we are stuck in; we are not at the fire-fighting stage, yet. Perhaps from time to time, we can pause and rethink:
What improves better ways of living, because chasing the standard of living as it rises without our control certainly exhaust physically and psychologically.