Olivia Parker
Jun 11, 2019

Bear Brand on the up; and why Vietnam favours KitKats

The reigning names in food categories across Asia held onto their spots in 2019. But there is interesting movement further down the chart, and between markets.

Boxes of Ferrero Rocher on sale for Chinese New Year
Boxes of Ferrero Rocher on sale for Chinese New Year


In not one of the 12 sub-categories that come under ‘food’, including ‘spreads’, ‘cereal’ and ‘ice cream’, did the leading brand change from last year. Nestle is still the top baby food and milk powder brand; Mentos the leading chewing/bubblegum/breath mints brand; and Pringle’s the favourite nuts and salty snacks brand.

This doesn’t mean consumer preferences haven’t shifted over time, however. While the top brand—and, largely, the top five brands—remain the same, we can point to key challenger brands that are further down, but rising up the ranks.

Bear Brand, for instance, is a powdered milk drink brand, owned by Nestle, that is marketed across Southeast Asia. The continent’s 16th favourite milk powder brand in 2018, this year it rose six places in the subcategory list, 35 places in the top 1000 list to 328th place, and also managed to gain popularity in Singapore (where it rose 14 places), Indonesia (where it rose three places to 4th) and the Philippines, where it soared from 12th to 3rd position, possibly thanks to a recent partnership with Grab.

Of course, looking between the markets also reveals greatly differing preferences. One hot contest for market share takes place between Cadbury (which falls 12 places in the Top 1000 Brands list overall, to 94, a continuation of a large fall from its position at 38, in 2017) and Ferrero Rocher. The latter is the inevitable favourite in China and Hong Kong, where it’s traditional to hand out the chocolates at Chinese New Year, because the gold wrapping denotes wealth. But it’s also the number one chocolate and candy brand in Singapore, South Korea and Thailand.

Cadbury, meanwhile, reigns supreme in Indonesia, Malaysia, India and Australia. The remaining markets’ favourites are occasionally predictable—Japan favours its own Morinaga chocolate, which rose 20 places in the Top 1000 Brands list to 110—and occasionally idiosyncratic—Vietnam’s favourite chocolate brand is Nestle’s KitKat. The latter brand has released various fun campaigns in Vietnam that might explain this, particularly around Valentine’s Day.

Getting a hold on more than one market as an instant noodle brand is an even more slippery affair. Between the 14 APAC markets Nielsen surveyed, nine different instant noodle brands were chosen as the favourite.

Nissin, the overall market leader, holds Japan and Hong Kong’s hearts. Maggi, the challenger, is preferred in Singapore, Australia, India, Malaysia and New Zealand. All other markets have a different favourite, and these all remain unchanged from last year. Indeed, some are deeply embedded into that market’s culture.

South Korean number one brand Nongshim was founded in 1965, has 40 popular flavours and now caters to Korean foodie tastes in 100 countries around the world. Indonesia’s Indomie, meanwhile is a 47-year-old homegrown brand that’s now extremely popular in New Zealand and Australia as well: it’s been called a “Disney” brand, in that it is typically only associated with positive experiences.

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