Nearly two million babies are expected to be born in the country this year, according to the Commission on Population and Development. This baby boom, more likely from the lower socioeconomic classes, will present opportunities for baby categories and FMCG for new mothers.

Baby products and bleach are likely to be in demand this year, according to data analytics firm Kantar, which identified shopping trends for 2021. 

The demand for bleach grew 8% year to date in August 2020 versus 2019, while rubbing alcohol and hand sanitizers saw a combined growth of 93% in the same time period. According to Kantar, these disinfectants will remain “highly relevant” to Filipino households over the pandemic.

Meanwhile, an expected baby boom presents opportunities in the baby categories. 

“The world continues to experience volatility and uncertainty due to the health crisis, and it is

therefore, difficult to predict Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) expenditures,” said Marie-Anne Lezoraine, general manager of the Worldpanel Division of Kantar Philippines. “The nature of our quarantine restrictions and our confidence in enjoying any mobility drastically changes our behavior as consumers and shoppers.”

She added that the deployment of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccines should boost consumer confidence, but also advised patience. “It may still be some time before we see that full impact on purchase behavior, however, as shoppers are likely to remain cautious in going out for some time (by choice or by policy). Purchase power may also take time to recover,” Ms. Lezoraine said.

The top consumer trends, according to Kantar, are:

  • Baby boom 

Nearly two million babies are expected to be born in the country this year, according to the Commission on Population and Development. This baby boom, more likely from the lower socioeconomic classes, will present opportunities for baby categories and fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) for new mothers. 

  • Cautious spending

Throughout the pandemic, most households have cut their FMCG expenditure to manage their budgets. Based on Kantar’s Purchase Confidence Study in July 2020, 79% expressed worry about their financial situation. Value for money is the name of the game as Filipino shoppers focus on making the most of their budget. 

  • E-commerce expansion

Online shopping remains nascent in the Philippines despite the disruption experienced by brick and mortar stores due to the pandemic. Based on Kantar’s findings, only 8% of the population purchased FMCG online in 2020. The channel is growing, with 772,000 additional buyers, although it currently remains skewed toward the higher socioeconomic classes as well as shoppers in the National Capital Region (NCR). Brands must not underestimate the differences in behavior and basket content of online vs. offline consumers, Kantar said. E-commerce as a marketing touchpoint may also lead to offline purchases. 

  • Leveraging omnichannel

Loyalty to one channel is almost non-existent. Filipinos continuously adapt their channel repertoire depending on their needs, reinforcing omnichannel shopping. Keeping the pulse of channel choices is critical as behavior has become more volatile.

  • Convenience and proximity of local retailers

Shoppers with limited mobility prefer proximity when visiting stores in their locality. Kantar noted that 9 out of 10 Filipinos prefer to shop in nearby stores, offering an opportunity for retailers to expand in or close to residential areas. 

  • Relevance of antibacterial products

Unsurprisingly, antibacterial products have been highly relevant to Filipino households. However, as more and more brands leverage their virus-killing advantage, they need to step up their game and combine this essential function with additional benefits.

  • Emphasis on health and immunity

Brands should focus on the health and nutritional value of their products in order to attract Filipino consumers.

  • Continuing preference for convenience

In 2021, Filipinos are likely to increase their mobility assuming that quarantine restrictions will be eased across the country. However, Filipinos will remain very cautious in venturing out and may seek convenience and versatility as their lifestyles continue to evolve. Brands must be able to adapt accordingly.

  • Recovery of impulse products

Assuming mobility stabilizes or improves, the recovery of impulse products could experience slow but sustained growth.

  • Improved performance in the personal care category

The personal care category, particularly beauty products, was drastically deprioritized when the Philippines implemented the enhanced community quarantine in March 2020. Similar to impulse categories, Kantar expects that the new year would see the slow return of the Filipinos’ beauty routine. This will still be subject, however, to improved mobility and the consumers’ aspiration for normality.

  • Regionalization of behaviors

Consumers in Visayas and Mindanao have smaller basket sizes but they shop more often. “Manufacturers should understand shoppers in their full complexity from a regional perspective and from a socioeconomic one,” said Ms. Lezoraine.

  • Sustainability

Kantar found that 75% of Filipino shoppers seek out brands that offer ways to offset their environmental impact. Most importantly, consumers see it as the role of manufacturers to drive the sustainability agenda. Developing a sustainability strategy has become paramount for brands moving forward.

“It is important to identify key targets, prioritize them based on how valuable they may be for your business, and activate it through the right pack, price, and channel strategy in order to reach more consumers more than a year into the pandemic,” said Ms. Lezoraine. — Patricia B. Mirasol