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Self-Storage Industry Soars in Asia: Insight From China, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand

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Other Asian Markets

Like the Chinese market, Singapore struggles with high-density population and limited space. Store Friendly and StorHub have facilities in Singapore as we as Lock and Store Self Storage, which has two locations. Extra Space Self Storage has opened five facilities in the area since its first in 2007.

Self-storage has also been introduced in Malaysia and Thailand. Extra Space opened its first self-storage facility in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in January 2012. CEO Michael Hagbeck said the company plans to open two to three more facilities within the next few years.

StoreGuard Co. Ltd. opened MY STORAGE in Phuket, Thailand, in 2010. The Thailand self-storage market is still extremely young. “To the majority of Thai residents, self-storage is still a completely new concept,” said facility manager Robert Akerblom. “By being a green-field market, there is still much to be done in regard to education and marketing of the many advantages and services self-storage can provide.”

My Storage in the Jungceylon Shopping Center, Patong, Phuket, Thailand

To avoid the types of expansion obstacles being faced in Hong Kong, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations aims to facilitate business expansions in Thailand by integrating the southeast region. Once the integration is complete in 2015, Thailand and neighboring countries will share the free movement of goods, services, investments, skilled labor and capital, Akerblom said.

To aid logistics, many rail, road, sea and air infrastructure projects have been completed or are in progress. Akerblom said this will generate potential for growth. In the meantime, MY STORAGE plans to expand its current location, adding approximately 400 units.

“We have closely been following the expansions in Hong Kong and Singapore and are aware of other Asian facilities coming up,” Akerblom says. ”The self-storage industry there has been through an exciting expansion over the past several years. As for Thailand, there is not much of a trend since the market pretty much is undeveloped.”

Building Awareness

Overall, operators agree public awareness is critical to the growth of the self-storage industry throughout Asia, since many consumers are still unaware of the benefits of the service. After two years of MY STORAGE operation, Akerblom said Thai locals and other potential consumers only have a vague idea of the concept.

Chinese consumers are still wary of self-storage because of cultural traditions by which people do not store things outside the home, according to Chen. “After two years of continuously working on market education and many kinds of media exposure, we gradually found that people start to trust our brand and see what difference it makes if they accept self-storage in their life,” he says.

Marketing and television advertisements have helped consumers in Hong Kong gain awareness of self-storage, Leslie notes. “Once they realize the benefit of the additional space to store their stuff and the ability to free up their living space, they embrace the idea of self-storage,” she says. “I used to talk to a lot of people that did not even know the word self-storage. Now most people know about it and many people use it.”

Chen is hopeful the Asian self-storage market will continue to grow steadily as it has in other countries. “Self-storage will be an everyday part of the lifestyle in the end, just like what has happened in the U.S. self-storage industry over 40 years ago.”

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