Key Insights into Malaysian Purchase Behaviour

Understanding customer’s purchase behaviour is essential for any business that wants to succeed in the long run. It can help you improve customer satisfaction, increase retention, identify new opportunities, improve marketing and sales strategies, and even reduce costs.

When it comes to marketing, the most important thing for any business is to satisfy its customers. By clearly understanding your customers’ behaviour, you can easily adjust the buying process to give them exactly what they want, when and where they want it. 

Most often, marketers evaluate a few main criterias: demographics, cultural influences, and economic factors that contribute to specific buying behaviour. At first glance, countries within the same region may seem to share similar purchasing patterns due to similarities in culture and environment. However, this is not always the case, as Southeast Asia itself consists of 11 countries, each with its own unique purchasing patterns. In this blog, we will focus on the common influences on Malaysian purchasing behaviour.

Five trends that drive Malaysian purchasing behaviour:

1. Festive Season Shopping

Being ethnically diverse, Malaysians are known to celebrate a variety of festivals, many of which are rooted in religion of the major nationalities.

Hari Raya Aidilfitri, or the Festival of Sweets, one of the biggest national holidays in Malaysia. It marks the end of the month-long dawn-to-sunset fasting of the muslim holiday Ramadan.

Chinese New Year, as a quarter of the population in Malaysia is of Chinese descent, hence the Chinese New Year takes on a great importance and is a national holiday.

Deepavali, or Festival of Lights, which is a religious celebration by Hindu followers. The malls and shops are lit, decorated, and mostly selling traditional Indian clothes during this entire season.

Christmas in Malaysia is mainly a commercial and secular holiday as Christians only make up about 10% of the population. For most of the customers it is a fun time with beautiful decorations in shopping malls and public places, as well as a chance to get a good deal or special offer for their favourite brands.

During these festive seasons, it is customary for Malaysians to purchase new clothes, decorations, gifts, and food items. This results in a surge in shopping and promotions by retailers.

Read about how you can take advantage of holidays time and increase your sales or strengthen business relationships.

2. Bargain Hunting

Malaysian shoppers are the region’s most price-sensitive, and the second most promotion-driven after Vietnam, according to a study conducted by Nielsen. They tend to compare prices across multiple offers before making a purchase and wait for sales and promotions to get the best deals. Malaysian buyers normally do not analyse the life-cycle cost of products, so a higher-cost product that is better quality will frequently lose in comparison to the lower-cost products or the one that seems to have the most compelling discount.

3. Brand Loyalty

Malaysians tend to be loyal to their favourite brands and are willing to pay a premium for them. Brands that are associated with quality, reliability, and trustworthiness tend to have a strong following in Malaysia, however this works only once the brand is well known. Increasing engagement with leads and customers is one of the ways to increase brand loyalty. Here are some tips on how you can organise your communication with Malaysian customers and increase their brand loyalty.

4. Emphasis on Halal Products

Malaysia has a large Muslim population. In fact, it makes up to 63.5% of Malaysians and as a result, there is a strong emphasis on halal products. This means that there is a high demand for products that are certified halal, including food, cosmetics, and pharmaceuticals. Hence, if your business focuses on selling said products to Malaysia and aims to achieve significant market share, your products must be halal-certified.

5. Online Shopping

Malaysians are increasingly turning to online shopping platforms to make purchases. Driven by a relatively high internet penetration rate, the e-commerce market in Malaysia is rapidly growing and is forecasted to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 24% a year, according to J.P. Morgan. The convenience of online shopping, coupled with attractive deals and promotions, has made it a popular choice among Malaysians. Moreover, the Malaysian government provides extensive initiatives and programmes to help SMEs to begin their e-commerce business. As an example of such activity, Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC), Malaysia’s lead digital economy agency, has led the execution of a Go-eCommerce Onboarding and Shop Malaysia Online campaigns since 2021 to encourage the adoption of e-commerce and e-payments. 

Interested in starting an online business in Malaysia? Learn more about Social Media Commerce as a platform for online shopping in our blog post.


By recognising preferences and behaviours of Malaysian consumers you will be able to  develop targeted strategies that drive sales and strengthen brand loyalty. Malaysian customers in general are price-cautious audiences, however if you understand what trends interest them and when they are more open for purchase (ex., interest in halal products, holidays time, etc) you can find successful ways to promote your product outside of the price criteria. 

Moreover, as Malaysia’s e-commerce market continues to grow, you can serve customers through attractive online shopping. Doing so, you can further enhance your chances of succeeding in Malaysia’s growing market. 

Our upcoming blog will highlight the dissimilarities in purchasing patterns of Singapore, our neighbouring country. If you’re interested in learning about the distinct consumer behaviour in Singapore and how it differs from Malaysia, stay tuned for our updates on LinkedIn page or subscribe for our newsletter. 

What's next for you?

Listening to your market and recognising its specific buying behaviour is a base for establishing a successful buyer’s journey.

Dive deeper in understanding of the Malaysian market and read our case study of an e-commerce store that successfully navigated through the challenge of increasing online sales in the country through brand loyalty!

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An in-depth B2C case study of an e-commerce brand in Malaysia that illustrates a successful example of growing online sales through deep understanding of their customers with application of email marketing.
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