Given that Japanfs domestic market is shrinking, Japanese companies have been paying more and more attention to overseas markets. In particular, if China and India are included in the equation, the GDP of the Asian region has already exceeded that of North America or the European Union (EU). The total GDP for the ASEAN countries has grown to the same level as the GDP of each of three significant emerging economies, that is, Brazil, Russia and India. This paper examines five of these ASEAN countries, namely, Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand and Malaysia. All of these countries have a high proportion of young people and will continue to enjoy this demographic bonus for some time to come, presenting significant potential for economic growth. These countries are expected to see their middle classes grow in terms of population and provide the engine that will drive growth in the ASEAN countries.
Nomura Research Institute (NRI) has conducted a consumer survey in the major cities of the Southeast Asian region. The results of this survey revealed that despite there being major differences in consumption, lifestyles and culture, there were some commonalities in terms of the maturity of consumption in each country. However, the pace of the expansion of the middle classes and the rate of growth vary country by country. Therefore, when selecting target markets, companies must collect sufficient information to form a clear view of the markets.
The retail markets of Southeast Asia are presently exhibiting a high rate of growth and offer a large scope for further growth in the future. While the overall trend is for the government of each country to relax the regulations governing foreign participation in its markets, the climate still remains somewhat unstable. Therefore, prior to and after entering these markets, it is necessary to carefully check the development status of infrastructure, trends in government policies and other matters that can be present as risks in doing business. Although there are many challenges and obstacles to overcome, Southeast Asia is definitely an attractive new market for business development. It is still not too late to start moving towards market entry.