Yuhyuh Sukmana, Regional Manager – Southeast Asia at Vanguard International Group
30 8月 2023

Global Summer Update Series – Exploring South East Asia’s Evolving Market 

As part of our ongoing global summer focus, we recently sat down with Yuyuh Sukmana, Vanguard’s Regional Manager for Southeast Asia, to delve into the dynamics of this vibrant market. Southeast Asia has long been an important region for Vanguard, with Indonesia emerging as a cornerstone market. Let’s take a deep dive into the current state of the region, the evolving consumer landscape, market challenges, and future predictions. 

Indonesia: A Cornerstone Market for Vanguard 

Yuyuh opened our conversation by highlighting the pivotal role that Indonesia has played in Vanguard’s success over the years. Despite facing challenges, Indonesia remains a key market for Vanguard. As we discussed the current state of the market, Yuyuh shared insights into the ongoing transition to a post-pandemic world. The recovery process is underway, marked by a commitment to a new normal rather than a return to the past.  

Emerging Consumer Trends in Southeast Asia 

Yuyuh shed light on the changing preferences and behaviors of Southeast Asia consumers. A notable trend is the growing emphasis on health consciousness. People are gravitating more and more toward fresh produce, reflecting a desire for healthier dietary choices. Despite this shift, economic challenges have led to a paradoxical situation where demand is rising, but purchasing power is constrained. The pandemic has triggered lifestyle changes, particularly in Indonesia, where the gap between the rich and poor has led to increased awareness about the importance of fresh produce. Fully harnessing this potential will take time and concerted efforts. 

In discussing consumer choices, Yuyuh emphasized that value for money plays a pivotal role in shaping purchasing decisions. Local fruits like  papayas, mangoes, and durian, when offered at affordable prices, resonate with consumers, underlining the importance of catering to diverse consumer segments. With a multitude of choices available both through wet markets and more modern grocery stores, consumers tend to opt for what fits their budget, regardless of the specific fruit or vegetable. 

Navigating Changes in Export Dynamics 

Looking at evolving export dynamics, Yuyuh pointed out the logistical challenges that have arisen post-pandemic. Importers and retailers now offer a broader range of options to cater to the diverse needs of consumers. Rather than focusing solely on high-end or low-end markets, importers must consider a wider spectrum. Yuyuh highlighted how this shift has created opportunities for the secondary, more cost-conscious market, signaling a departure from the conventional approach. 

Economic Landscape and Market Transformation 

Yuyuh offered insights into the changing economic landscape in the region. While modern retailers initially promised a transformative impact, the pace of change has been slower than anticipated. Giant retailers have faced closures or have been acquired by local players. In contrast, especially in Indonesia, traditional wet markets are undergoing a renaissance, driven by cleanliness, sanitation, and government support. This shift has created a unique dynamic where both middle and upper-class consumers are drawn to these renovated markets, turning them into weekend destinations. 

Challenges and Predictions for the Future 

Discussing challenges, Yuyuh noted the complexities of buying positions, which have made it difficult for retailers and importers to plan effectively. The uncertain supply chain landscape, characterized by short crops and a growing reluctance to ship to the region from many origins due to long transit times, has led to spot buying rather than program buying. The importance of planning ahead and securing supply for promotions has become paramount. 

As Yuyuh looks to the region’s future, he forecasts that Indonesia will remain a promising market, driven by government investments in infrastructure, such as ports and highways. The shift of the capital city promises to further invigorate the market, ushering in transformative changes. However, challenges related to trade policies, particularly in markets like Indonesia and Thailand, will require careful navigation.  

The Road Ahead: Navigating Uncertainty 

Yuyuh acknowledged that while challenges and uncertainties persist, Southeast Asia’s resilience and potential for growth remain undeniable. Singapore’s role as a logistical hub positions it for growth as neighbouring markets thrive. Political developments, such as Indonesia’s upcoming presidential election, are poised to impact the economic trajectory of the region. As we journey through the evolving landscape of Southeast Asia, Vanguard remains committed to adapting and thriving in this dynamic and ever-changing region.  

Stay tuned as we continue our Global Summer Update Series.