THE PHILIPPINES' TOP 100 BRANDS: RANKING ANALYSIS
After two years in 2018 and 2019, when domestic consumption drove the top 100 brands ranking in The Philippines, the story this year was dominated by a significant change in currents. As the economy teetered and the Covid-19 pandemic swept across the nation of over 109 million, several marquee labels took a body blow, while confined consumers aided the rise of others in sectors such as digital banking.
As an example, three of the brands most impacted were Quaker (down 26), Mentos (-29) and Hershey’s (-59), as Filipinos chose to snap their wallets shut in these uncertain times.
“Many Filipinos have had to limit their discretionary spending during the pandemic,” says Bea Atienza, chief strategy officer at Dentsu Philippines. “Shopping habits have shifted as there are fewer trips to supermarkets, convenience stores, and local ‘sari-sari’ stores as Filipinos were asked to stay home during one of the longest and strictest quarantines in the world.”
Stable at the top
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Juan Manuel De Borja, strategic planning director, Grey Philippines, reckons that rather than a widespread decline in consumer consumption, the nature of buying has shifted. “What we are experiencing is a tremendous shift in what people want to buy and where they want to buy it from—a change from out of home and social to in-home and individual; and more broadly from wants towards needs, perceived or otherwise,” he says. “A Mentos or a bar of Hershey’s in this current environment feels a little out of place, maybe even indulgent. There’s a time and place for items like that, but it might not be in 2020, stuck at home and worrying about your budget.”
This hammer blow to consumption has taken the shine off brands in other segments too. For example, across the board, auto brands in the Southeast Asian market were hit, led by Honda, Toyota and Nissan, which fell 19, eight and 18 spots, respectively. With consumers shying away from the indulgence of car purchases, carmakers seemed to take a hit.
Atienza of Dentsu Philippines contends that beyond the health and economic worries, local regulations too played their part in these brands’ performance. “2019 was a difficult year for the automobile industry as the new TRAIN (The Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion) law increased taxation on both vehicles and fuel … [and] Covid-19 has dealt a major blow to the category impacting sales dramatically, as Filipinos limit spending and conserve their savings during the pandemic.”
The shift to ride-hailing ventures—both large unicorn labels such as Grab and newer upstarts such as Angkas (which in Filipino means “ride together”) only made a bad problem worse, with the pandemic acting as a sledgehammer blow to the industry.
Even as many brands suffered the dual strike of economic uncertainty and a global pandemic, some categories also rose at this time. One such segment that seemed to prosper was the fintech space (in contrast to traditional banks, which slid hard), with the likes of Gcash (up 38) and Visa benefitting. In ecommerce, Shopee rose 24 places, from 55th to 31st.
“New payment avenues such as GCash responded very quickly when Filipinos needed to transfer money online, providing a solution that was convenient, easy and accessible,” says Francine Kahn-Gonzalez, CEO of BBDO Guerrero. Bringing a large unbanked population online and growing demand from small businesses helped these firms burnish their brands too. “The experience of using these payment options has been positive, and data shows that Filipinos will continue to use these payment options even after the pandemic.”
Despite this seeming flux, the top 10 listing for The Philippines was relatively stable. While Samsung continued to be the top brand in the market, Apple and Nestle traded positions in the top 3. Besides this, the only change in the top 10 for 2020 was in tenth place. While Coca Cola dropped out to 11th, Starbucks rose from 13th to 10th place.
It was at the other end of the table where all the action was hidden. Compared to a stable top 10, the bottom 20 saw several new entrants, led by Pringles, which went up 53 places from 145 to 92, Guess, which leapfrogged 49 places from 134 to 85, Condura (sneaking into the top 100 by going up from 146 to 99), Instagram (124 to 97) and L’Oreal (117 to 96), gave straggling incumbents reason to keep a wary eye on their rearview mirror.