From Carts to Baskets: the New Normal for Filipino Shoppers

From Carts to Baskets: the New Normal for Filipino Shoppers

Filipino shoppers traditionally go to the supermarkets twice a month, usually on paydays, for bulk shopping. For some basic items, however, Filipinos often buy from sari-sari stores, local convenience shops. With the increasing number of supermarkets across the country, however, a recent Nielsen survey observes that Filipino shopping habits are shifting: shoppers are making “top-up” shopping trips in supermarkets more frequently, and visiting the supermarket more often is becoming the norm.

This recent change in consumer behaviour is pronounced, with major grocery shopping trips giving way to a rise in buying only what is needed. On average, the frequency with which Filipino shoppers replenish their pantries decreased from three times per month in 2011 to two times per month in 2012. Meanwhile, the average number of top-up shopping trips increased from three times per month in 2011 to seven times per month in 2012 This recent increase in shopping frequency is providing more opportunities for retailers and manufacturers to interact more often with the shoppers.


The close proximity of supermarkets to shoppers’ doorsteps is driving this preference toward smaller but more frequent shopping trips. As supermarkets continue to sprout near residential areas previously served by “mom and pop” convenience stores, shoppers are feeling less pressured to buy in bulk. Well-known supermarket chains have extended their reach by opening new or smaller format stores in high traffic residential areas, with the average commute or walk around 17 minutes. This means shoppers can now more-easily reach a supermarket by bike, jeepney, or foot.


The increase in shopping trip frequency has also resulted in a rise in spending on groceries, as Filipinos’ monthly spend on food, grocery and personal care grew by 8 percent in 2012 from 2011.

Interact to transact

More frequent trips to supermarkets are opening the door to more opportunities for retailers and manufacturers to interact with shoppers, in particular via in-store promotions.

Three out of 10 shoppers admit to being promotions-driven, and although the majority of Filipino shoppers plan their grocery shopping activities with a shopping list, nine out of 10 shoppers admit to often buying more than they had planned. While price-offs or discounts and “buy 1 take 1” offers are shoppers’ preferred promotions, manufacturers and retailers must ensure they select the right promotional activity to suit their specific product.

In-store promotional activities are a good way to support product or brand launches. Manufacturers and retailers should take note that there’s a significant increase in the proportion of early adopters from 9 percent in 2011 to 15 percent in 2012, illustrating that of Filipino shoppers are becoming more interested in trying new products.

The increasingly dynamic and complex Philippine marketplace represents both challenges and opportunities. In order to secure the hearts and minds of Filipino shoppers, manufacturers and retailers must recognise and understand the emerging trends in shopper behaviour and adapt their marketing strategy to suit.

The insights, analysis and data included in this article are based on Nielsen’s Philippine Shopper Trends Report. For more information, contact the Philippine Shopper Trends team.