MALAYSIA's TOP 100 BRANDS: RANKING ANALYSIS
This year’s list of top brands in Malaysia showed that consumer electronics grew exponentially or remained stable as demand rose dramatically in the last six months. Samsung, Panasonic and Apple comfortably secured their top three spots, while LG records a meteoric rise as it jumps 17 spots to reach fifth spot overall, an incredible feat to overtake Sony in sixth place.
Audrey Chong, chief investment officer at Magna Malaysia, says that changing behaviour and patterns as a result of the pandemic saw more offices mandate flexible options for work such as WFH setups, as well as the need for home schooling, which dictated that each child have their own device at home to participate in virtual classrooms.
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Chong also attributes the rise in consumer electronics to the proliferation of ecommerce platforms such as Lazada, Shopee and Ali Express, all of which tout attractive promotions and easy-to-use interfaces.
LG’s success story, meanwhile, shows that it has finally joined the elite ranks of Samsung, Panasonic and Sony after consistently delivering in the home appliance category. One example is LG’s 4K HDTV, which is offered at a reasonable price and value compared to those by rival brands.
Irene Wong, CEO at Grey Malaysia, says that LG has been launching new products frequently and is a brand associated with innovation and technology. “[LG’s] products are discussed in forums, and their reviews are better known, and because of this, more information about their products is shared,” she says.
Philips—one of two electronics brands to dip in rankings this year—is better known in Malaysia for specific and small items such as air fryers, trimmers, garment steamers and air purifiers.
KFC is no spring chicken
The rankings also point to a surge for KFC, a ‘heritage’ chain in Malaysia which climbed 25 spots to 55th place. During the pandemic, while some brands chose to freeze adspend, Chong says that KFC Malaysia continued to speak directly to consumers and drive top-of-mind brand recall with campaigns that were contextually relevant to changing consumer behaviour.
“KFC’s spend ensured the conversation and relevancy of the brand remained, with loyalists applauded the brand for being switched on to the needs of the average family in Malaysia,” she says.
One example was an initiative spearheaded by Reprise to provide home recipes complemented with store-bought KFC. The agency also picked up a Warc Grand Prix in social strategy for its comedic take on a social influencer (pictured above) to drive affinity with millennials in Malaysia, a campaign which gained KFC a cool 2.5 million followers. And when the pandemic hit, the brand showed love to delivery riders—including those of rivals McDonald’s and Pizza Hut—in an emotive social media post.
The runway shortens for fashion brands
Chanel and Gucci both dropped in the rankings, pointing to a trend in Kuala Lumpur where many global luxury brands were forced to shut down in the past six months.
“Luxury brands are not a priority at this point,” says Chong. “In addition, there was a backlog of new launches and collections being postponed, which further eroded these brands’ top-of-mind awareness amongst consumers. Plus the lack of tourism—especially from the Middle East—meant that these brands would suffer severe sales loss in the foreseeable future.”
Grey’s Wong added that the cost of living, Malaysia’s economic environment, affordable housing and job security were the four most critical areas affecting consumer sentiments, indirectly resulting in poor performance by luxury brands.
Levi’s and Louis Vuitton bucked the trend by improving in rankings this year. The former is known for partnering with local influencers shaping the arts and creative scene, while the latter caters to wealthy shoppers by way of high-profile collections and exclusive experiences.
Domestic travel takes off
Some of the most noticeable rises this year were Agoda and Booking.com, climbing 31 and 25 spots, respectively at a time when international travel was put on pause. But aggressive domestic deals by hospitality and travel brands meant that Malaysians were driving up and down the peninsula to explore attractions in their own backyards.
“WFH created an extended period of burn out, and so with the lifting of restrictions, a sense of escapism set in for consumers seeking deals and looking for delayed gratification on their travel purchases,” says Chong. “With free movement allowed interstate, there was a surge in domestic travel, although the hospitality sector is still reeling from the effects [of Covid] as capacity is reserved almost exclusively for weekend or holiday travel.”
Wong adds that there was an uptrend this year where people rallied to boost the local economy, and showed support for local SMEs and communities. These have included Cuti-Cuti Malaysia—the country’s long-running domestic tourism campaign—as well as purchasing homemade products. This #KitaJagaKita sentiment, translating to ‘we take care of each other’, resonated throughout the pandemic.