East Asian markets offer huge business opportunities

Filipino exporters, particularly of health and beauty products, are called to tap the huge business opportunities offered by East Asian markets of Japan, South Korea and Taiwan.

Michael Alfred Ignacio, Director for Commercial Affairs of Philippine Trade and Investment Center Taipei, said these countries have a combined population of about 200 million.

“Bear in mind that the average incomes of households in these three economies are very high compared to the rest of Asia and this makes it a very unique and special market to address. It’s also a very challenging market to address given the sophistication of this market,” he said during the fourth general membership meeting of the Philippine Exporters Confederation Inc. (PHILEXPORT).

Ignacio said it is important for entrepreneurs aiming to penetrate these countries to “localize” their products and conduct research and development (R&D) to adjust to the needs of target markets.

“The relatively affluent East Asian market pays a premium for health food trends and wellness products. They are also huge consumers of oriental medicine and herbal products that mind you, you have to take note that either only for herbal medicine and natural products that they know of. If you are introducing herbal medicine from the Philippines, please make sure that they understand what it is. And sometimes, it also helps for that company to work with your importer here to actually launch an information campaign so your target consumers will understand the benefits of that product,” he said.

Ignacio said those exporting to markets such as Taiwan, Japan, and Korea need to also customize product labels to adhere to their rules and regulations.

“The consumers are here, they embrace digital market channels and they are heavy users of e-commerce platforms and a lot of them shop online,” he said.

Moreover, ageing population creates an entire market segment and demand for specialized products and services, Ignacio said adding that urbanization increases demand for convenience.

“So you see a lot of convenience stores serving as restaurants in themselves, they serve complete meals, you can eat there. Or if you don’t have time to eat, you can bring them out and eat them in your office or at home if you don’t have time to cook. So this is also a product trend and product segment that you might want to take advantage of,” he added.

Ignacio also highlighted the rising demand for home meal replacements for the ageing market, and health-boosting food and supplement.

He said top consumer spending categories in these markets are groceries, personal care, medicine, non-food child products, household supplies, printed books and publications and magazines, food take-out and deliveries, and home entertainment products and services.

Ignacio said demand for beauty and grooming products is influenced by the popular pop culture and showbiz trends.

“If you try to introduce Filipino beauty products, the potential exporter would also do well to do a lot of market study and product positioning before you even try to enter the market. They are also environmentally aware and this is so because their legislation, their laws, actually require them to do so,” he added.

Ignacio said exporters need to design and be creative in the individual packaging.

“Packaging is key in this market. Consumers tend to equate excellent packaging with product quality. Manufacturers, they are not afraid to spend on packaging,” he said. “Even if you have excellent products, please take a look at investing into your packaging and your brand image as well.”

“Buyers are also discerning and price aware so because of the amount of technology that is in their fingertips, they know exactly if a product is at mid, high side or on a low side. And they know these differences vis-a-vis value for money, they know what their money is worth in every product. And they tend to compare products because of the access to technology in their phones for example,” he added.

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