Capturing Filipino Consumers

Characteristics of Filipino consumers

Filipino consumers are very middle-market centered. They are part of Asia’s growing consumers, who are emerging alongside the “new emerging-market middle class.” According to Peter Hammond of Mexx, “[…] when Filipinos like what they see, they buy it. But certainly during sale periods, they’re bargain hunters.” This makes the Filipino market have more potential than the other Asian markets, he added.


According to Luz Barra, commercial director of consumer knowledge and insights firm, Kantar Worldpanel, Filipino consumers could be understood by analyzing their product preference(s) for beauty, hygiene, health, and convenience.

72% of Filipinas admitted that they would like to improve their hair and change their complexion, supporting the idea that Filipinas care about their looks. Their preference for beauty products increased the purchase growth of 12.6% in hair conditioners and 6.3% in hand and body lotion from June 2009 to June 2013. The increase in whitening body lotion sales compared to non-whitening lotions is also due to the Filipino consumer’s definition of being fair as being beautiful.

Filipino consumers also prefer healthier and more “on-the-go” food. Along with the promotion of fun runs, exercise, and other physical activities, Filipinos have adopted a healthier lifestyle based on their food choices. For the past 5 years, an increase in sales was seen in cereals, yoghurt, canned vegetables, and biscuits, and also with beverages like soy milk, bottled water, energy drinks, fruit/vegetable juices, and powdered milk.

Aside from healthier options, consumers also prefer fast, easy, and convenient  choices like ready-to-drink beverages, quick and easy meal purchases like instant noodles and canned meat, and choices for easy cooking, including meal flavorings and seasonings.

Consumers are also concerned about their hygiene. Consumers purchase more germ-protection products like alcohols and hand sanitizers and, in addition, also include personal hygiene products (panty liners, razors, sanitary pads) in their grocery lists.


Filipino consumers behave in a certain manner when it comes to purchasing products in the market. The top reasons that influence the purchases of Filipino consumers include brand loyalty, media exposure, and the value of money.  Online shopping has also emerged as a new trend among shoppers.

Brand Loyalty

In 2013, a Nielsen online survey on Global Consumers reported that 77% of Filipino respondents said that they already have preferred brands and types of products before buying. Consumers seldom switch to different brands and often remain with their favorite shampoo (63%), deodorant (56%), and coffee (53%). Even if they were presented with a promotional offer from other brands, Filipinos usually stick to their preferred brand.

Although Filipino consumers observe brand loyalty, a Nielsen survey on Global New Product Innovation in 2015 revealed that, recently, Filipinos are among the consumers worldwide who often try new products when grocery shopping, and prefer brands with fresh product development. In the 2015 survey, 68% of the Filipino respondents said that they bought a new product during their last grocery trip. 78% prefer to buy new products, while 77% like it when manufacturers offer new product options, as a brand name assures quality and credibility.

A report by Pancake House Inc. states that Filipinos are open to new brands, but they are also very fickle. According to Bernadette Lee, COO of Pancake House Inc., Filipino consumers are not difficult when introducing a new brand, but it is hard maintaining their interest with the product. In the words of Ms. Lee, the only battle in introducing new brands to consumers is the constant “battle to sustain attention and loyalty.”

Majority of Filipino consumers check the brands’ commitment to making a positive social and environmental impact. Moreover, 79% of the respondents (the highest globally) of the Nielsen Global Survey of Corporate Social Responsibility claimed that they are willing to pay extra for products and services from companies committed to making positive social and environmental impact.

Nielsen’s Managing Director in the Philippines Stuart Jamieson added that socially conscious consumers, like those in the Philippines, Vietnam, and Thailand, look for brands committed to “supporting local communities and improving the state of the environment” because they are the ones who “face extreme levels of poverty” and frequently encounters natural and environmental disasters.


The changes in media landscape also change the way consumers access information about products and services. Television remains an essential part of Filipinos’ everyday lives, which is why they rely on commercials for product information. These advertisements also greatly affect the product preference of Filipino consumers. Respondents of the Nielsen Global Consumer survey from the Philippines said that commercials increased their brand preference (78%), as the image created by these commercials influenced their decision to buy said products.

Celebrity endorsements also play an important role when it comes to influencing brand preference. Companies use these spokespersons to deliver their advertising message and to boost their brand image. Marketing studies have reported that famous people increase awareness of a company’s advertising and create positive feelings towards brands.

One of the local companies that approached celebrities is Cherry Mobile. After eventually getting them as stable endorsers, they have experienced a boost in sales of the smartphones. The reason behind this, according to Julius Guevara, Colliers Philippines associate director for advisory and research, is because Filipinos “are very conscious of celebrities and they find affinity with the celebrity.” A celebrity’s appearance, popularity, and relatability are the measures on how big the impact of their endorsement could influence a consumer’s decision on buying their endorsed brand.

Advertising on the Internet also plays a key role in advertising. 10% of the consumers ranked social media posting, 9% for active internet searching, 6% for internet advertisements, and 4% for Internet forum or message board as key influencers. According to Stuart Jamieson, Nielsen’s Managing Director in the Philippines, there is a “rising reliance” on social media postings, active Internet searching, and Internet forum, wherein consumers can learn more about the product, and read about the reviews of other consumers like them.

Nielsen said savvy marketers who are able to inject these in their product development can count on Filipino consumers to be their ambassadors among their family and friends offline or online. The Nielsen report on Global New Product Innovation revealed affordability as the key driver of new product purchase for Filipino consumers, followed by convenience and personal recommendation from family and friends, and experts (14%).

According to a study conducted by Waggener Edstrom Communications Ltd. (WECL), most positively, experience-based sectors like dining and tourism have the greatest show of promoters, followed by mobile, food, and healthcare products.

Value of money

Filipinos are often lured by product promos and affordable prices. 40% of the Filipino respondents in a study conducted by Waggener Edstrom Communications Ltd. (WECL) said that they are very likely to follow a brand on social media for the discounts and promotions offered.

Nielsen’s 2013 Philippine Shopper Trends Report revealed affordability as the key driver of new product purchase for Filipino consumers, followed by convenience and personal recommendation. Filipino shoppers have said that they like new products or emerging products that are “centered on affordability, health and sustainability, and convenience as important considerations.”

Filipinos also prefer to shop around for deals. Three out of 10 shoppers, according to the report, admit to being promotions-driven. Despite having a prepared list for their shopping trips, majority of shoppers buy more than they had planned due to these promos, i.e. price-offs, discounts, and the Pinoy-favourite “Buy 1, Take 1” promo. In-store promotional activities are a good way to support product or brand launches, as well.

According to Nielsen’s 2012 Global Consumer Report, good product promotions are received the strongest in developing countries where “practicality and creativeness are needed in order to stretch the budget.” In fact, 76% of Filipino respondents said free gift offers make product offers more attractive. Although Filipinos are ready to spend, they are still more inclined to grabbing best deals and promos; offering extras or gifts to consumers will get them to buy a product over another.

Countries: South East Asia and United Kingdom
Topics: Export Planning, Market Research, Product Development, and Sales & Marketing
Export Action Plan