13 Jun 2024

Malaysian Consumer Sentiment Behaviour: Perceptions of Financial Wellbeing and Security

In this article, we share insights on Malaysian consumer sentiments concerning the current economic state, alongside their perceptions of financial wellbeing and anxieties regarding financial vulnerability and security. We delve into individuals' views on their present financial status and examine the diverse factors influencing their sense of financial security or susceptibility in the financial domain. 

Methodology  

This survey was conducted from 23rd February to 11th March 2024 using Vodus’ proprietary OMTOS online survey method that enables a survey audience sampling reach of 17 million Malaysians (53% of population) through a network of major online media platforms. In total, Vodus has surveyed 19,697 respondents nationwide to gather data and insights that accurately represent the Malaysian consumer population.   

Financial Well-being Perception

The financial landscape in Malaysia has posed numerous challenges for many individuals in recent years, exacerbated by the current weak economy affecting the nation. Among the myriad concerns that Malaysians grapple with, financial worries consistently loom large on the horizon, casting a shadow of uncertainty over personal finances and future stability. 

Our study found that 31% of Malaysians identified the state of the economy as their primary concern for the upcoming years, perceiving it as not doing well. This concern is especially notable among individuals aged 35-44 and those with personal incomes between RM5,000 to RM10,000. 

Among Malaysians, 13% consider their family's health and happiness, along with their own well-being, as their top concerns. This concern is particularly evident among those with higher incomes (>RM10K). 

Interestingly, our study revealed that 10% of respondents are primarily concerned about their current financial issues for the upcoming years. This worry is particularly notable among Malaysians residing in one-person households. It suggests that individuals living alone may feel more acutely the financial pressures or challenges they face, leading to heightened concern about their financial situation in the future. 

While many Malaysians express concerns about their finances, they continue to prioritise spending on necessities. This tendency is particularly pronounced among Gen Xers (aged 45-54) from mid-high-income brackets and medium-sized households. On the other hand, millennials (aged 25–34) exhibit a more divided approach to their spending habits, with some spending without worry while others prioritise saving. 

Key Concerns 

More Malaysians are concerned about their financial health in 2024 than in 2022. Of Malaysians who feel better off, 24% reported that their financial situation was better than before, down from 31% in 2022. Among those who perceived improvement, the percentage of individuals who felt things were slightly better remained consistent, while the proportion of those who felt very little change and were content with it decreased from 16% to 12%. 

Among Malaysians who feel better off financially, a significant shift in key concerns occurred between 2022 and 2024. Unemployment and job security ranked as the top concerns within this group in 2022. However, our study revealed that by 2024, family health and happiness had become the predominant worry. Interestingly, despite this shift, staying healthy and happy, along with concerns about inflation, remained consistent key concerns for this demographic across both years. 

Among Malaysians who feel worse off financially in 2024, the proportions of those reporting no change in their worries and concerns, as well as those feeling things have slightly worsened, remained relatively stable. However, the most notable change was observed in the segment perceiving a deterioration in their financial situation, rising from 7% in 2022 to 11% in 2024. 

Examining the primary concerns among those who feel worse off in 2024 compared to 2022 reveals significant shifts. In 2022, the Covid pandemic loomed largest for this group, whereas by 2024, family health and happiness have taken precedence. Additionally, while climate change and its impact on the environment were key concerns in 2022, our study indicates that inflation has emerged as a greater worry among those who feel worse off financially in 2024. 

Financial Vulnerability and Security

In today’s rapidly evolving digital landscape, the prevalence of scams and fraud poses a significant challenge for individuals navigating online and offline platforms. Our recent findings reveal a concerning trend: 3 in 10 Malaysians have fallen victim to scams or fraud within the past six months.