Asia Pacific Update: February 26
In today’s edition
With today’s edition, we mark an entire year of COVID Alerts and Recovery Reports by examining the trajectories of some of Asia Pacific’s key sectors over the past twelve months. Elsewhere, we share a snapshot of our recent Spikes Asia Festival of Creativity Session on the new trend of ‘creative upcycling’.
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Recovery Spotlight: Then & Now
Logistics: When lockdowns began in Asia Pacific at the start of March 2020, the logistics sector was disrupted, with borders closed, aircrafts grounded, and ships quarantined off-shore to curb transmission.
But, very quickly, logistics firms and national postal operators sprang into action to deliver healthcare supplies and essential goods. Governments began to recognise the importance of investing in logistics frameworks amid the pandemic. This was further highlighted by the significance of “last mile” delivery for groceries, meals, and online shopping during lockdowns.
As of February 2021, the logistics sector is an integral part in the rollout of vaccines, providing the infrastructure needed to support inoculation programmes throughout the region.
Healthcare: At the start of the pandemic, the region’s healthcare systems were overwhelmed and destabilised, with resources being pivoted towards combating the virus. Clinics postponed elective surgeries, while hospitals turned non-urgent patients away. Hospitals faced shortage of vital resources such as PPE and oxygen. This was quickly resolved in Asia Pacific, however, with other sectors coming together to address to support frontline workers.
As the case numbers across the region lessened, the spotlight shifted to chronic illnesses and other surgery backlogs. Even today, many patients with chronic illnesses are experiencing interruptions in treatments and there is concern that there will be a surge in case numbers for other medical conditions. Clinics continue to implement a split team approach for treatment continuity, with social distancing measures in place.
As vaccines become approved and distributed across Asian markets, governments are cautiously deploying their inoculation plan to help their populations achieve immunity.
Manufacturing: With more supply chains dependent on China than on any other country, the start of the COVID-19 pandemic exposed the vulnerabilities of so many of the world’s markets relying on a single country for manufacturing purposes. This led to the halting of production lines across a swathe of industries from automotive to consumer electronics.
While the situation eased when China successfully contained the pandemic and re-opened factories, the pandemic has spurred many businesses to consider a ‘China Plus One’ strategy and endeavour to regionalise their supply chains. By shortening supply chains and setting up regional suppliers, companies aim to increase flexibility, resilience and reduce risk of disruption.
Like many businesses, factories in Asia Pacific have begun to recover financially in response to vaccine-led optimism.
Consumer behaviour: Initially, businesses were forced to reduce direct worker and customer contact to curb transmission – with some markets shuttering shops and eateries entirely. With footfall in physical stores dropping due to movement restrictions and a desire for “touch free” shopping experiences, many physical retailers began moving online at the start of the pandemic. Unsurprisingly, contactless payments have experienced an uptick in usage, along with growing adoption of digital payments and online banking.
As stay home restrictions were imposed across Asia, many consumers turned to online entertainment. Streaming platforms were initially ill-prepared for a surge in the number of viewers, temporarily lowering the quality of their streaming videos. Online gaming also surged across all age groups in the region, attributed to extended school closures. Today, the in-home entertainment sector continues to remain attractive, with Nielsen reporting that 60% of people are engaging more with in-home entertainment.
Prior to the pandemic, only 9% of global shoppers regularly shopped online. This number rapidly grew to 44% by May 2020. The pandemic has accelerated the adoption of e-commerce across Asia Pacific markets, with many brands and retailers adopting to the new omni-channel shopping experience. E-commerce platforms in Southeast Asia have enjoyed sustained growth over the past twelve months. Unfortunately, the rise in activity has also driven an increase of cybercrimes targeting unsuspecting consumers.
Food & Beverage: At the start of the pandemic, Asia’s Food and Beverage (F&B) sector was hurt by curfews and closures. Out of necessity, many consumers pivoted to takeaway and delivery. As movement restrictions fluctuated, however, the F&B sector’s resilience grew, with many eateries establishing a robust protocol for serving dine-in and take-away customers.
Most recently, the Asian Development Bank has predicted that the region will recover and grow 6.8% in 2021 with vaccinations assisting markets in adapting to the new normal.
This briefing was prepared by the Weber Shandwick Insight and Intelligence team in Singapore. If you feel a specialised briefing and analysis bulletin could benefit your team, please get in touch: email@example.com.
Trend Spotlight: Upcycling Creative Content
“Upcycling is a popular trend among sustainability and DIY communities. It involves taking discarded products and furniture and creatively reimaging them for colourful new purposes. A broken shelving unit may be transformed into a new seating bench, for example. And, in 2021, upcycling is a very useful practice for communicators and brands.”
In a special session for this year’s Spikes Asia Festival of Creativity, Weber Shandwick experts and clients discussed the rising communications trend of creative upcycling. For a rundown on the phenomenon, see our recent trend spotlight article.
About COVID-19 Recovery Report:
- The content of this news bulletin is a summary of publicly available news articles on events and developments related to COVID-19.
- The views and opinions reflected by these headlines do not necessarily represent those of Weber Shandwick.