December 18, 2009 / 5:49 AM / 8 years ago

Families come out tops in Asia in recession

4 Min Read

<p>A couple walks around a shopping mall in Tokyo October 17, 2008.Kim Kyung-Hoon</p>

SINGAPORE (Reuters Life!) - Every recession has a silver lining, with a survey showing a majority of Asians believe their families are the most important part of their lives as the global economic turmoil puts more careers in jeopardy.

In the poll of more than 33,000 people across the Asia Pacific, 95 percent of respondents felt family came first, while more than 8 in 10 wished they had closer ties with people in their communities.

The wide-ranging survey, one of the largest snapshots of opinions and trends in the region, was conducted by global marketing communications firm Grey Group in 16 countries.

"Because of the credit crunch, there has been a recent shift in the Asian mindset from the 'I' to the 'we'," Charu Harish, regional communications planning director for Grey Group Asia Pacific, told Reuters.

"More people feel that the world around them is changing, politically and economically, that they're insecure in their jobs and the one thing that they can rely on, that roots them is family. Families give people a lot more sense of control."

Although many Asian countries were not as hard hit as Europe and the United States by the global economic meltdown that began late last year, the financial crisis has not left the region untouched.

Japan's economy slid into recession, Australia's weakened, and the crisis also slowed down the economic growth of powerhouses such as India and China, while countries that rely on remittances from migrant laborers, including Bangladesh and the Philippines, have also felt the pinch.

Harish said the research showed that many Asians were moving away from the Western-style individualism adopted by developed countries in the region to the more traditional ways of extended families that look after each other.

"Initially we used to ape the West in terms of individualism, but now we going back to our Asian roots and our heritage, which is why communities are becoming more important, and people want to play a stronger role in communities," she said.

This emerging sense of community is higher across developing countries like Vietnam, Bangladesh, India and China compared to a developed country like Japan, the survey showed.

Harish said this could be attributed to the lack of infrastructure and government support in developing countries, which makes the community a greater source of security.

The desire to belong to a community is also stronger among many parents, with nearly 90 percent of all respondents, especially those in Korea, India and Sri Lanka, raising concerns that modern living was making their children grow up way too fast, and exposing them to too much information.

And because of the proliferation of information sources, more than two-third of respondents said they relied on the advice of family and friends when making purchases or booking holidays, a factor Harish said would impact advertising by brands.

"Word of mouth has become very important, so increasingly, marketing firms and brands need to look into how they can use that, perhaps through social media," she said.

Harish also recommended brands target families and communities in their marketing campaigns in the region, rather than individuals, as their "influence is becoming more powerful."

The survey covered respondents in Australia, Bangladesh, China, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam.

Editing by Sugita Katyal

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