Do consumers prefer global brands?

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The annual Nielsen Global Brand-Origin Report highlights consumers’ preference for and sentiment towards products manufactured by local manufacturers versus large global/multinational brands across 34 categories.
While the survey findings have pointed to a relatively balanced view across global and local brands in recent years, the latest results show consumer preference is tipping toward global brands across the majority of categories.
Preference for a global brand was strongest in the baby wipes/diapers and baby food/formula categories, where just 7% and 10% of consumers, respectively, said they prefer to buy brands from local manufacturers. In Malaysia, at least nine out of 10 consumers say they prefer to buy global brands of baby wipes/diapers (90%) and baby food/formula (87%).
Other categories where Malaysian consumers showed low preference for local brands include pet foods (14%), feminine care products (15%), vitamins/supplements (16%) and skin care products (18%).
On the contrary, categories where consumers were more inclined for a locally manufactured product over a global brand included biscuits/chips/snacks/cookies (52%), tea/coffee (45%), dairy products (44%), mineral water (43%) and instant noodles (40%). See Chart 1 and 2.
Chart 1: Top 10 products Malaysian consumers would buy from local manufacturer

Source: Nielsen Global Survey of Brand Origin, 2017
Globally, categories that saw the most notable swing in preference away from local brands compared to the previous survey conducted in 2015 include mineral/bottled water (down to 30%), instant noodles (down to 21%), pet foods (down to 12%), carbonated soft drinks (down to 18%) and baby wipes/diapers (down o 7%).
The hair care (18%), alcohol (16%) and baby food/formula (10%) categories all saw a 10% decline in preference for local brands from 2015.
In Malaysia, at least nine in 10 consumers prefer global brands when it comes to baby products – baby wipes / diapers (90%) and baby food / formula (87%).
At least two-thirds of those surveyed also indicate a preferences towards global brands for personal care items such as hair care (76%), oral care (77%) and body care (80%) products.
“In today’s world of hyper-connectivity and globalization, consumers have a wider array of product choices than ever before,” observes Regan Leggett, Head of Foresight and Thought Leadership, Growth Markets, Nielsen. “Importantly, consumers also have greater access to global brands than they have in the past, thanks to factors such as expanding distribution, e-commerce offerings and modern trade retail channels. As a result, we’re seeing a swing in preference toward the big multinationals. Other factors at lay include consumer perception around quality, particularly in high involvement categories such as baby care.”
Chart 2: Top 10 products Malaysian consumers would buy from global manufacturer

Source: Nielsen Global Survey of Brand Origin, 2017
At a regional level, market nuances were evident, with consumer preference for global versus local brands, varying widely within a number of categories. In the dairy category, consumer preference for local brands was much more pronounced in Africa and the Middle East (73%) and Europe (66%) compared to the global average (54%).
In the biscuits/chips/snacks/cookies category, consumer preference for local brands was prevalent in Southeast Asia (50%), Africa and the Middle East (41%) and Latin America (41%) compared to 32% globally.
“The variation across regions illustrates the relative strength of local manufacturers within specific categories, particularly where they are appealing to local consumers’ tastes,” emphasizes Leggett. “In Southeast Asia, for example, where noodles are a staple in consumers’ diets, local manufacturers have been able to maintain a stronghold on the category. Similarly in European markets, locally sourced dairy products are perceived to be of a higher quality than imported products.”

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