This look at Malaysia's top 100 brands is part of Campaign Asia-Pacific's Asia's Top 1000 Brands report. For more on the status of Malaysia brands according to our research, see the full Malaysia market report.
Malaysia has the unenviable honour as the most obese nation among its neighbours and across this region, based on a number of studies published in the likes of The Lancet in 2014 and the Tackling Obesity in Asean report by the Economist Intelligence Unit last year.
It is evident that Malaysians share a great love for food and drinks seeing as Nestlé (4), 100Plus (8) and Maggi (9) occupy high positions in the country rankings. While both Nestlé and its Maggi brand are Swedish in origin, their products such as Milo (53) and the Maggi instant noodles are as Malaysian as they get. “Maggi is so Malaysian that you can have Maggi goreng (fried Maggi instant noodles) at the mamak (colloquial term for popular Indian Muslim eateries), and for no reason at all you order Maggi soup there when you could have made it yourself at home,” said Kenny Loh, CEO of Geometry Global Malaysia.
“It’s the taste we grew up with, just as Milo, every household would have Milo. It’s the Malaysian way of life, although it’s not good for you,” Loh said. He credited the strong showing of 100Plus to the effort of the F&N-owned isotonic drink brand to be closely entwined with the Malaysian ethos, such as backing the national shuttler Lee Chong Wei.
Meanwhile, Milo inches up a spot this year even though there have been widespread online articles about its high sugar content. The criticism becomes more pointed given that the brand is heavily involved in sports sponsorship and positions itself as a nutritious energy drink. Milo responded by clarifying that the 40% sugar listed on its label only applies to its powdered form.
As in the case in many countries, nutrition programmes and studies in Malaysia are backed by giant food companies such as Néstle. A New York Times article published last year points out that the Nutrition Society of Malaysia promoted the Nestlé Healthy Kids programme to schoolchildren since 2010, and printed a pamphlet with ads for the brand’s Coco Crunch and Cookie Crisp cereals. Nestlé’s site further mentions that the programme is implemented in Singapore, Thailand and the Philippines. The explains why Nestlé is so well established and entrenched across a good number of markets covered by Asia’s Top 1000 Brands, even though its approach of promoting sugary cereals and drinks to schoolchildren deserves further scrutiny.
In other developments, the top 10 rankings welcome in Canon (10), Google (6) and Maggi. Nike and Adidas lose their momentum, with each dropping by seven and four spots respectively. Toshiba too suffers a setback, falling from 10th to 30th, in the tough household appliance sector where the Japanese brand is quickly losing ground to rivals like Samsung and Sony in the LCD television category. Elsewhere, Formula One, which completed its last race in the Sepang circuit last year tumbles 72 to 172nd. Fledgling Kuala Lumpur-based streaming platformiFlix enters the chart at 100th, lagging behind Netflix which ranks at 81.
There are, however, bright spots for the other brands. For example, Huawei shoots up from 139th to 71st. An IDC report states that Huawei increased its market share in the smartphone category last year in Indonesia, Malaysian, Myanmar, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam by 3.8% to 5.4 million in shipment volume.
In contrast, top smartphone brand Samsung upped its shipment volume by 25.8% to 29.3 million units for these markets. Although Huawei remains behind its Chinese counterpart Oppo, which owned the second largest market share at 17%, the former has increased its outreach to Malaysian consumers. Huawei collaborated with the Malaysian Association for the Blind and arts-based NGO Plus Community to teach photography skills to the visually impaired through AI technology on its P20 Pro model.
On the other hand, Alibaba-backed ecommerce site Lazada gains further ground, rising from 33rd to 13th. A report published by meta-search platform iPrice shows that Lazada saw an increase of 13.8 million average monthly visitors between Q3 and Q4 2017.