Manila's elite on spending spree despite economic crisis

Posted at 11/17/09 8:51 PM

MANILA - While everyone else was cutting expenses and beefing up savings amid the economic downturn, affluent consumers in Manila were on a spending binge, according to a survey by global market intelligence company Synovate.

Synovate's 2009 PAX Survey revealed that Manila's elite continued to purchase luxury goods—from designer clothes to laptops and financial products—in the second quarter of the year.

Among Asia-Pacific markets, Manila also saw the highest jump in the percentage of affluent consumers preferring to buy well known brands (from 39.6% last year to 48.4% this year).

Synovate PAX is the region’s most comprehensive study of elite adults, tracking media and digital consumption, prosperity, and influence across 11 markets: Hong Kong, Singapore, Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Malaysia, India, Indonesia, the Philippines, Japan and Australia.

Now on its 13th year, the survey polled 1,670 affluent residents in Manila between the third quarter of 2008 and second quarter of 2009.

It found that ownership of laptop among the elite rose 7.8% in the second quarter over the year ago while purchase of MP4 players and digital cameras grew 8% and 8.7%, respectively.

Smartphones have also been on the rise. About 15.6% of elite consumers in Manila have hybrid moble phones in their pockets compared to only 7.5% last year. Findings also showed that 69.1% own a mobile phone with Internet access and camera functions, which is 37.1% more than the general population.

Similarly, more affluent consumers in the Philippine capital have been purchasing private cars (62.1% of elite consumers versus 12% of population) and properties (from 51.5% of elite consumers to 58.2%).

The Synovate survey further revealed that 75% of these consumers have invested in one or more financial products this year compared to 68.5% last year, while almost a quarter or 23.9% of them have gone on one or more leisure trips in the past 12 months against only 2% of the general population.

Over the coming months, Synovate said spending levels of the Filipino elite are likely to continue to grow.

"We are seeing that affluent consumers in Manila do not want to give up the finer things in life," said Carole Ann Sarthou, managing director of Synovate in the Philippines.

Sarthou said that among markets, Manila's elite expressed the highest increase in intention to purchase all things luxurious such as designer clothes and leather goods (from 6.2% last year to 8.7% this year), quality accessories and footwear (from 5.1% to 7.1%), jewelry (from 6.5% to 10.5%), and luxury watches (from 7.1% to 8.6%).