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Participatory content, inclusive design & shared commerce: Google APAC’s 2020 consumer trends


By Charlotte McEleny, Asia Editor

March 12, 2020 | 9 min read

Google has published three consumer trends that it believes will be core to brands in 2020, painting a picture of a future that’s more digitally sociable, accessible and sustainable.

The research used Google data, alongside Qualtrics research, to understand what was driving the biggest shifts in consumer attitudes and behaviour in APAC in 2020. Fundamental to the findings was the fact that with 60% of the world’s population in APAC, and 38% of those consumers under the age of 25, the findings in APAC are the launch point for many trends that are adopted globally.

With Me - consumers increasingly seek participatory content and use online interaction as a means to share experiences.

Rooted in streaming trends like ‘mukbang’, in which people watch other people eat online, Google believes this trend for using streaming to connect socially around everyday activities is hitting the mainstream. Beyond eating, it’s now regular practice in some markets for people to cook, study or even packing suitcases together online.

Key stats

  • More than half (51%) of all the online APAC consumers treat videos and live stream as a way of connecting with friends

  • In Pakistan, watch time for videos related to With Me grew by 150% in the first half of 2019,18 while in Indonesia it grew by over 180%

  • In Malaysia watch time for mukbang content has grown by over 150% in the last year

  • In Australia, watch time for "study with me" videos has grown by over 250% in the last year

The places to look out for this now, according to Google, is gaming where millions of people watch others game and content consumption levels are more than mainstream. Likewise, Google believes ‘get ready with me’ videos with influencers have huge potential for a wide range of brand involvement. Product placement and influencer-like sponsorship of content is a fast way to get involved in this trend now.

In terms of where this trend is going, Google looks to the technology to add further dimensions to the participatory elements.

Dr Stuart Pike, director of consumer and market insights (CMI), Google Asia Pacific, who led the research, said that VR and haptic technologies would start to inform this trend.

“As technology is improving and getting cheaper, we are going to see another metamorphosis of this ‘with me’ content to take advantage of. Whether that is VR goggles, or something as exciting as haptic technology, which is 3D touch. While that seems a bit far away now, before we know it, it is going to be a part of the experience and if you are a brand owner that is giving you a great opportunity to get connected with a very, very broad group of people. If you are genuine and authentic about the way that you do that, this can be a wonderful experience,” he explains.

All to gather - digital advancements enable inclusivity and promote the fundamentals to inclusive product and service design to address unmet consumer needs in the region.

This trend is all about the fact that brands don’t realise the need consumers have for inclusive and accessible user experiences. The topics within this are catering for all types of people in products and services, as well as making sure there’s diverse representation in advertising.

Key stats

  • 50% of all online APAC consumers agree that the practice of inclusivity is important to them and 60% of them feel that the world would be a fairer place if more people practised it

  • Searches related to veganism (ヴィーガン) in Japan grew by 8x while searches for ketogenic diet in India grew by 14x since 2014

  • Global searches for Halal as a topic have increased by 10x since 2004

  • In India and China, more than 2 in 3 people would like voice-activated devices to use local accents and phrases

The research shows that even people who don’t have a disability look preferably on brands that cater for all people, so the short win on this trend is to make sure services are accessible. According to the world health organisation, 15% of people in the world are classed as ‘disabled’ and brands should be catering to all needs.

An example fo a brand pushing this already is Grab in Singapore and Malaysia. The ride-sharing firm hires drivers that are hard of hearing and helps them get jobs, the riders are informed of this ahead of getting in the car and the service is adjusted to ensure that the rider and driver can communicate.

In the future, Google believes that this will be even more crucial as digital connection expands to more rural areas of the world. The opportunity for voice to reach new customers in areas where reading literacy is low is therefore huge.

Dr Pike adds, “Inclusive design is a base expectation from consumers, it was once seen as a nice to have and now you can’t ignore this because the consumer expectations are rising, rising and rising. Couple that with representation in advertising is more important than ever. If people can’t see themselves in your advertising, you are not relevant to them and not connected with them.”

Shared commerce - next-generation consumption driven by an ethos of rational purchasing.

This trend brings to light how the sharing economy and second-hand purchasing is now the norm, no longer driven by the promise of ‘cheaper’, people are shifting behaviours and attitudes to buying used items and sharing as the norm. Concerns around the environment and better ways of living are fundamental to this shift in consumer behaviour.

Key stats

  • More than half of all the online Millennials and Gen Zs in APAC believe that pre-owned products have better value than new items

  • More than half of the region’s online consumers claim renting helps them save money that they would have otherwise wasted on a new product

  • 4x growth in searches for “zero waste” in the past 5 years in Singapore, 3x in Australia and 5x in India

  • More than 7 in 10 people in China and India agree that “sharing economy is the future.”

A sector that’s been quick to understand the impact that this trend will have on business models is the automotive industry. Most major car producers have a solution that’s based around allowing people to sign up and rent cars or share cars with other drivers.

Likewise, rental websites like China’s YCloset allow people to share the costs of owning expensive designer clothes by paying a subscription fee to constantly rent clothing. Such websites are gaining in popularity across the region.

Google says the next phase of this, which is already being seen in South Korea is brands using crowdfunding to seek out the popularity of its services before it goes into production. Citing South Korean website Hago, Google believes this fills the consumer need for wanting to buy new items in less of a hurry but get items specified to their needs.

“Once upon a time people may have looked as second-hand buyers as cheap, unfairly, but ultimately it was driven by commercial decisions. Now, this is a much more socially praised way of buying, let’s not waste and share and be smarter about what we are doing. This plays right into this sustainability issue, with people wanting to minimise their impact on the environment,” says Dr Pike.

Many of Google’s trends tap into a need for businesses to transform their strategies digitally. The Drum is launching an online festival this month celebrating the ways in which brands are tackling this important topic, to find out more sign up here.

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