MANILA: The young, Western-oriented shoppers of the Philippines are attracting international brands as economic growth in the country soars, a market expert says.

According to Joan Mae Encarnacion of Publicis Jiminez Basic in Manila, the country has largely avoided the impact of China's slowdown and offers significant brand expansion opportunities that are drying up in other parts of the region.

In an exclusive piece for Warc, Encarnacion argues that the Philippines is an ideal market for brands seeking to expand in an emerging economy.

While the Philippines has generally been more interested in Western-oriented cultural trends than other South East Asian nations, the internet has also been a huge influence, particularly when it comes to awareness of international brands. 

Young consumers are among the most socially connected in the world, spending several hours a day on social media. Overseas, Filipino workers are also broadening the horizons of family and friends back home and introducing them to new products.

Two hundred foreign brands have entered the local retail scene over the past seven years alone – from budget fashion brands like H&M, Cotton On, and Uniqlo to FMCG food brands like Bonchon, Happy Lemon, and J&Co. Donuts. 

Sportswear giant Nike, which sponsors the national basketball team – and until recently Philippines boxing superstar Manny Pacquiao – enjoys a dedicated following as market leader for sportswear. E-commerce is also becoming more popular, giving Filipinos more access to products from other countries.

Building an emotional rapport with consumers is a powerful tool for brands in the Philippines, where storytelling is an inherent part of the culture. 

The digital age offers even more opportunities – Encarnacion believes emotional storytelling no longer has to be a traditional media technique, but can also be employed successfully on digital platforms such as social media.

Warc subscribers can read more here on the advertising and marketing trends to expect in South East Asia in 2016.

Data sourced from Warc