The fifth chapter of ‘Shopping Habits of Women’ brings us to Kuala Lumpur. The capital of a multi-ethnic nation spanning Peninsula Malaysia to the island of Borneo, Kuala Lumpur is a bustling city of skyscrapers and with myriad of shopping malls at its heart.


Based on a survey by Hakuhodo, a Japanese advertising company that looks into market search and conducts advertising surveys; it has found several traits among women shoppers in South East Asia. The agency surveyed women aged 15-54 in seven major cities in the region, asking them about their interests and habits.

They later categorise the habits that the women exhibited during their shopping escapades. This information is crucial because it helps you know about your target audience better. Knowing them will allow you to make the right decisions to target them towards your business or educate you about the relevance of your business to the community.

Based on the survey, the largest group of women (out of 1,866) that make up 27.7% are considered to be family and community first shoppers. This means that most would avoid impulsive, emotional purchases and prefer to be thrifty and careful shoppers. They are also not brand conscious but are more prone to purchase items that are priced low or reasonably. Coming close are the smart and careful shoppers who make up 23.4% of the total surveyed.  These women plan their purchases carefully, taking in mind the price, social issues related and product information. They believe that they are smart and practical shoppers. Not lagging behind is 22.8% of the women who are sensitive selfies. Extremely brand-conscious, they are interested to know about and own new products. Impulse purchases are nothing new as they have a strong tendency to buy an item that has a hefty price tag.

Based on the findings, one can say that the women of Kuala Lumpur are quite educated in terms of consuming products. However, the first two large percentage groups might be what Mohd Hasan Mohd Saaid assumes in his paper ‘Consumerism Trend in Malaysia’ as being stuck in a ‘middle income trap’. He states that the country is no longer able to compete with neighboring countries in low-cost production and lack the skills for high-end tasks in global production networks.

The question now is how do you market to a market that has different wants when it comes to consumer goods? Is the market better for cheap, reasonable or branded goods?

Quite like Singapore (albeit not as fast-paced) is the emergence and the heavy reliance on online media that cannot be ignored. Hoseok Kim, the CEO of 11street online shopping portal told Borneo Post Online that based on the 11street Online Shopping Index that Malaysia is one of the top leading countries in the world when it comes to smartphone Internet access with the number of connected devices per person standing at 1.2 devices each.

Another research by Nielsen however is firm that trust in traditional advertising lives on. So for marketers out there, radio, magazines, newspapers and television still works effectively; according to Nielson. However, it also states that the most effective is by word-of-mouth. In fact, the findings made it to the title of the research. ‘Malaysians Trust Word-of-Mouth Recommendations Most’ claims that 88% of consumers in South East Asia place the highest trust in word-of-mouth. In fact, 89% of all Malaysians do. This is because if you master word-of-mouth marketing, it can result to a quicker and viral reach.

These findings are useful to identify possible markets and marketing styles. Perhaps you are planning to open a store or franchise in a Muslim dominated city (with many modern Muslims and non-Muslims), it’s time to take hold of your brand and market it. One way you can do it is by making the most out of social media such as Facebook and Instagram to encourage testimonials by word of mouth. Also, extend your business to cover the e-commerce as well. This investment is going to go a long way.