Understanding the Emerging Affluent in ASEAN: Discovery of an invisible class

Jun. 8, 2023
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Hakuhodo Institute of Life and Living ASEAN presents ASEAN Sei-katsu-sha Studies 2023

A humble but driven class with a unique horizontal life asset building strategy—the Omni-mizers

Tokyo—June 7, 2023—Hakuhodo Institute of Life and Living ASEAN (HILL ASEAN) today held ASEAN SEI-KATSU-SHA FORUM 2023, announcing findings from surveys and research into the attitudes and behavior of ASEAN sei-katsu-sha—Hakuhodo’s term for the holistic person—as well as implications for marketing. The topic was “Emerging Affluent: Discovering the invisible class in ASEAN.”

The ASEAN Emerging Affluent is a segment sandwiched between the wealthy and middle classes. The Emerging Affluent differ from what sociologists refer to as the “upper middle class” in that they work hard to attain this lifestyle—which is within reach for those in the middle class—and serve as role models for the lifestyle, brand choices, and consumer behavior of the middle class. Understanding the ASEAN Emerging Affluent is key to understanding the future of the middle class, which makes up much of the ASEAN population.

HILL ASEAN conducted quantitative and qualitative research on and interviewed Emerging Affluent sei-katsu-sha in six ASEAN countries and Japan* to shed light on their background, attitudes to life, consumer behavior and approach to media.

* Countries studied: Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Vietnam, Singapore, Japan (quantitative survey only in Japan)

The findings unveiled the following characteristics of the ASEAN Emerging Affluent sei-katsu-sha:

Background: Strong motive for becoming wealthy, with the determination and drive to achieve a better life. Believe in the concept of an invisible hand (divine power or fate), which helped them attain their current status while also keeping them grounded and humble.

Attitudes to life: Strategic thinkers and doers with a realistic life plan for the long term. Seek stability and build a horizontal life asset strategy. Have a “runner-up” mindset to reduce pressure, while trying to become their best self at their own pace. Do not live a flashy lifestyle. Avoid unwanted attention and ultimately fly under the radar.

Consumer behavior: Don’t shop solely based on the brand’s image, but seek functional benefits. Cleverly use brands as social passports to guarantee their status and trustworthiness. Generally reluctant to splurge, but will spend money “for the family.” Have an impressive ability for gathering and skillfully using information.

Approach to media: Mavens in obtaining information and sharing it with others. Especially avid collectors of information on financial topics. Humble braggers that share good experiences with their family on social media without worry of criticism.

A general key trait of the ASEAN sei-katsu-sha is enjoying living for the moment, however the ASEAN Emerging Affluent take a longer-term, strategic view of things. Their first priority is to achieve stability in life. They systematically develop a full array of tangible and intangible assets and skills to stabilize and strengthen their livelihood and achieve sustainable growth. Their aim is to optimize their wealth and relationship potential, before taking the next step up the socio-economic ladder. They are humble, but driven, and know what they want.

From these findings, HILL ASEAN coined the term Omni-mizers to signify ASEAN Emerging Affluent sei-katsu-sha who succeed across all the pillars in the Emerging Affluent life by solidifying their surroundings to ensure growth. Omni-mizers can be life omni-mizers, progress omni-mizers, and even spiritual and social omni-mizers.

Three keywords that describe ASEAN Emerging Affluent sei-katsu-sha

  • Strategic Mindset
  • Stable Life First
  • Humble but Ambitious

HILL ASEAN will continue to support the marketing activities of companies in ASEAN through research into the attitudes and behavior of ASEAN sei-katsu-sha.

Click here for more details on this release


A special webpage has been created for this research on the HILL ASEAN website. It contains detailed survey findings, commentary on the research content, implications for marketing, and other information.  Please refer to it in addition to this press release.

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