Filipinos spending less on restaurants, gadgets due to global crisis: market research

Posted at 11/11/08 9:51 AM

In fear of losing their jobs as a result of the global financial crisis, Philippine consumers are now spending less, a survey said.

The study made by global market research company Synovate showed that a whopping 94 percent of Filipinos in Metro Manila have made cuts in their spending. On the other hand, 67 percent were greatly fearful of unemployment and loss of household income, and 53 percent think that the country's current condition cannot get any worse.

"We found that Filipinos were not the only ones to cut back as comparisons with other Asian markets showed that people from Malaysia, Japan, and Taiwan also shared the same sentiments," said Synovate Philippines managing director Carole Sarthou.

The survey's 1,000 respondents were Filipinos aged 15 to 64 across all income levels. Synovate's survey was part of a global study entitled "State of the Economy."

 Things Filipinos are ready to give up

The survey revealed that 33 percent of respondents have reduced incomes, while only 31 percent saw a salary increase. Twenty-six percent believed that their earnings have not changed drastically.

Because of the financial turmoil, 71 percent of respondents have given up life-altering decisions such as postponing plans for marriage, having children, moving out, changing jobs, and pursuing higher education.

Fifty-six percent of the respondents have done less impulsive purchases over the last six months, and 65 percent were conscious of food prices.  

On the other hand, Filipinos said they are ready to give up the following expenses in the next six months as a result of the global financial crisis: eating out (22 percent), purchase of big ticket items (15), and purchase of hi-tech electronic gadgets (14 percent).

In spite of the current economic situation, however, 65 percent of Filipinos could not control their spending. Thirty-eight percent of respondents said that they were saving less, while 37 percent have less investments. In addition, 59 percent of Filipinos, have resorted to storing more food items in case of price hikes.

"It's evident that the current economic situation has impacted the lives of everyday Filipinos but in spite of this worrying trend, the people we interviewed were generally determined and upbeat," Sarthou said.

Filipinos pessimistic, but less than others

Filipinos, however, are less pessimistic about the prospects of their country's economy. Only 24 percent of survey respondents believed that their economy is going downhill, a small number compared to 63 percent in the United States and Japan, and 64 percent in France.

"Filipinos are definitely a more resilient bunch, having gone through many tough times in the past, this will be just another storm that will eventually blow over, hence they can't imagine how much worse things can get," Sarthou said.  

Even though they have changed their spending patterns, a great 88 percent of Filipinos in the survey said that they will always find a way to purchase alternatives which would still make them feel good.

Nielsen survey shows more optimism

A survey released last week, however, showed a different side of Filipino consumers and how they are dealing with the global financial crisis.

The study--based on an online survey--was conducted by research group Nielsen Co. It said Filipinos remain upbeat despite the global financial crisis as they continue to spend on clothes, holidays, and gadgetry. Out of 51 countries surveyed, the Philippines was one of the seven nations which did not experience a drop in consumer confidence for 2008.

Nielsen Philippines managing director Benedicto Cid credited the country's consumer confidence index of 102 on the increased remittances of 8 million Filipinos working overseas, saying that this cushioned the country from the effects of the financial crisis. He added that price cuts in fuel and rice have also boosted local optimism.

The global average for consumer confidence is 84, with South Korea having the lowest rating of 36.

Nielsen's figures were based on a global internet survey of 25,202 consumers in 52 countries conducted from September 22 to October 6. It included 500 respondents in the Philippines, most of whom belonging to the middle class, with a significant number based in Metro Manila.

Having said these, it would seem that the Nielsen survey seems more precise than the one done by Synovate, given the former's wider scope of respondents, use of more advanced technology, and bigger consideration on other economic factors.