Coronavirus’ Boost to Online Consumption in Asia Lifts More Than Entertainment

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Consumers around Asia have been locked down, had their travel restricted and been forced to spend more time with their families. Their digital consumption has risen. But the changing patterns of online usage have lifted far more categories than entertainment.

A new research note from ComScore, published Thursday, presents data from six territories in Asia-Pacific. It focuses only on the month of March, when the coronavirus was still a relatively new phenomenon and many government measures were being introduced for the first time.

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In Hong Kong, when border control and social distancing measures were being introduced, consumers registered an 8% increase in visits to digital media and a 10% increase in minutes on site. As befits Asia’s financial hub, financial news was high on the agenda, scoring a 40% increase in minutes compared to February. Personal finance readership followed. And there was a 24% increase in online books, and a 27% increase in computer software research.

Singapore, with which Hong Kong is often compared, saw a 10% increase in news consumption, especially local, and business and finance categories. Technology information was more sought. But job search and training were two standouts, with job search recording a more than 600% increase. In comparison, entertainment’s 12% increase was modest.

Malaysia, where coronavirus was slightly slower to arrive, saw the news categories multiply their usage. General news consumption doubled. Political news trebled, compared with pre-virus era November. Online earning and education categories grew by 53% to 132%, while health information was sought 23% more compared with February. Financial services advise sites recorded 75% increases, compared with February.

General news consumption in Vietnam was boosted, according to Comscore. But so too was education – up 97% compared with November, and 54% compared with February – and food supply. Grocery search was up 19% compared with February, investments and insurance, up 85% and 93%, respectively, compared with November.

Indonesia, South East Asia’s most populous nation, and where the first confirmed coronavirus case arrived as late as March 2, 2020, saw a 53% increase in unique visitors to health sites. Education sites generally benefited by 28% compared with February, and youth education soared by 246%. Travel and airline categories plunged by as much as 40%.

Australia, saw general news increase by 48% compared with February, and financial news climbed by 76%. And with the federal implementing tough policies, visits to government information sites climbed by 25% compared with February. Travel, airline and hotel site visits were on the wane through January and February. In March, reach and total minutes of Travel sites decreased 12% and 38%, respectively in March 2020, compared with February.

The country reported stampedes in supermarkets in March, and Comscore says that people got ready to dig themselves into long periods of lockdown at home. Retail, book (+16%), and computer software (+25%) enjoyed traffic surges. But sites for event ticketing were down by 57% and luxury goods 75%, compared with just a month earlier.

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