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Huge Differences in Digital Buyer Penetration Across APAC

Japan, Australia and South Korea lead region in digital buyer penetration

July 30, 2014

Digital buying activity in Asia-Pacific is high in the region’s three most developed markets—Japan, Australia and South Korea—and much lower everywhere else, according to eMarketer’s latest estimates of worldwide business-to-consumer ecommerce activity. Even when measured as a percentage of internet users, rather than of the total population, the split between these three countries and the nation with the next-highest digital buyer penetration, China, is massive.

Digital Buyer Penetration in Asia-Pacific, by Country, 2013-2018 (% of internet users)

Nearly eight in 10 internet users in Japan and Australia will make at least one digital purchase in 2014, eMarketer estimates, along with 73.0% of those in South Korea. In China, the figure will pass 50% for the first time this year, reaching 55.2%. In the less developed digital markets of India and Indonesia, only relatively small minorities of internet users will buy anything at all online, via mobile or via tablet throughout our forecast period.

These figures make Japan and Australia among the top five countries worldwide by this metric—and several ranks ahead of the US, which just outpaces South Korea. India and Indonesia, by contrast, have the lowest digital buyer penetration figures of any countries eMarketer creates forecasts for. Even in third-from-last Mexico, more than three in 10 internet users will make a digital purchase this year.

Digital Buyer Share in Asia-Pacific, by Country, 2013-2018 (% of total)

But once again, China’s vast size overshadows all else in the region. Even with middling digital buyer penetration, China accounts for more than 60% of the region’s digital buyers, or 319.9 million this year. And Australia’s relatively tiny population puts it just ahead of Indonesia, which will end up surpassing it by the end of our forecast period.

eMarketer bases all of its forecasts on a multipronged approach that focuses on both worldwide and local trends in the economy, technology and population, along with company-, product-, country- and demographic-specific trends, and trends in specific consumer behaviors. We analyze quantitative and qualitative data from a variety of research firms, government agencies, media outlets and company reports, weighting each piece of information based on methodology and soundness.

In addition, every element of each eMarketer forecast fits within the larger matrix of all of its forecasts, with the same assumptions and general framework used to project figures in a wide variety of areas. Regular re-evaluation of each forecast means those assumptions and framework are constantly updated to reflect new market developments and other trends.

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