A few weeks before Christmas, Kantar, the world’s leading data, insights, and consulting group, revealed that Filipino shoppers remain very cautious with their Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) spend even as the Philippine economy begins to show signs of stabilization. During a virtual roundtable briefing, Marie-Anne Lezoraine, General Manager of the Worldpanel Division at Kantar Philippines, said that while Filipinos want to save, they are still looking at ways to celebrate the Christmas season albeit differently this year due to the pandemic.

“Based on the data we’ve gathered over the years, we’ve seen that FMCGs traditionally experience a 20% uplift every Christmas season,” Lezoraine said. “Also, on the average from 2017-2019, we’ve noted that more than half (57%) of Filipino households receive FMCG items as Christmas gifts. This year, however, will be different due to the pandemic, as Filipinos become more selective and take into consideration both social and economic factors when purchasing goods.”

Under usual circumstances, Lezoraine mentioned that during the holiday season, all-purpose cream, canned fruits and vegetables, pasta, mayonnaise, and cheese typically experience an uptick in demand. Interestingly, these food products have become increasingly popular, especially as more individuals have embraced home cooking since quarantine measures were enforced in March. In the realm of non-food items, the most sought-after gifts include liquid soap, colognes, lotion, and cosmetics. When considering thoughtful presents for loved ones, one might also explore the delightful realm of a “holiday cookie gift” to add a touch of sweetness to the festive season.

Shopping behavior in the new normal

Since the lockdown to curb COVID-19 infections, Filipino shoppers have adjusted their shopping baskets to prioritize food over beverages, home care, and personal care, a trend observed across all socio-economic class. According to Kantar Philippines, households belonging to the upper ABC class increased their food purchases by 11 percent this year versus the same period in 2019. In contrast, the lower C to E sectors, save for food, have been spending significantly less across all categories.

Data from Kantar Philippines also showed that from January to September 2019 (year-to-date (YTD) September 2019) versus January to September 2020 (year-to-date September 2020), Filipinos were shopping less frequently but focusing their money on more valuable items. In addition, they visited one-stop-shop channels like hypermarkets and supermarkets to make the most out of their shopping trips.

Supermarkets, according to Lezoraine, registered an almost 28 percent value share in YTD September 2020, while grocery stores (6.7 percent) and hypermarkets (5.9 percent) also gained traction as a result of the quarantine measures and their one-stop-shop offering. It is important to note, however, that sari-sari stores remain an important part of the Philippine economy’s road to recovery as everyone shops in this channel.

Lezoraine said, “Despite the slight decline in spend share from 39 percent in YTD September 2019 to 38.1 percent in YTD September 2020, Filipino shoppers frequented sari-sari stores four (4) times a week proving that these small stores still attract a wide range of consumers and continue to be the top retail channel to reach the D and E sectors.”

Kantar Philippines noted that the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact the FMCG choices of Filipinos. “As we enter the Christmas season, businesses must ensure that they adapt to the evolving shifts in consumer behavior and the challenges that we all face,” Lezoraine explained. “Brands must be able to help Filipino consumers fulfill their needs through campaigns that will cater to all the shoppers and their budgets, which includes making indulgent treats affordable. It is likewise important that they ensure their patrons’ convenience and safety at all times.”

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