Why were Filipino consumers eating fewer eggs than anywhere else in the region? InsightAsia set out to crack the case…
When talking about the meteoric rise of Southeast Asia, it’s easy to think purely in terms of its growing urbanisation or its expanding tech sectors.
ASEAN integration across the region is creating the 5th largest economy on Earth, this progress is something we see globally celebrated, and quite rightly so!
At InsightAsia, however, we’re also keen to keep a level head and look at the day-to-day reality of real people’s lives. Southeast Asia is home to some 600 million people and, on average, more than half of these live in a rural setting. In places like Laos this proportion is closer to 80%.
Hatching another market research strategy
Far removed from the hustle and bustle of metropolises like Jakarta, Bangkok and Singapore, hundreds of millions of people’s lives still revolve around agriculture, relying on traditional farming methods for their income. According to the World Economic Forum, some 100 million smallholders operate across the region, working with less than two hectares of land each.
While a lot of great work is being done to enhance the sustainability and security of this agricultural economy, it’s also important to think in real terms about who is engaging with this economy right now. InsightAsia’s intrepid researchers, never afraid to get their shoes dirty, left the office behind to work with farmers and understand consumer attitudes to this critical industry.
InsightAsia helps unscramble the myths
Take the Philippines for example. We found that egg consumption here was far lower than elsewhere in Southeast Asia and set out to discover why. Our market research among a wide cross-section of Filipinos discovered some interesting facts:
- Filipinos mostly consume eggs at breakfast due to low cost, convenience and habit.
- Families can consume as many as 24 eggs per week, compared to 6 per week for those living alone.
- Consumers aren’t brand conscious when it comes to eggs. Price and size are the main considerations.
- They believe in the goodness of eggs but have limited knowledge of their nutritional value.
- The idea that eggs are high in cholesterol is the main barrier to consuming more. This consciousness of cholesterol intake rises with age.
- Filipinos aged over 40, and especially senior citizens, are more aware of their cholesterol, hence less likely to eat eggs.
What stands out in our findings was the objection to eggs on the basis of their cholesterol content. In actual fact, the science behind this link is shaky at best.
Even the idea that eggs raise blood lipid levels was found by the Food and Nutrition Research Institute of the Philippines (FNRI), in a study of those aged 18-60, to be an exaggeration. For those with normal general health, the benefits of an egg a day are very real.
There’s no fowl play for Filipino consumers
Keen to use these findings to debunk the myths, health experts teamed up with big industry players to launch The Good Egg campaign at the annual Poultry Show, held at Pasay City’s SMX Convention Centre in August 2015.
Delegates from the Department of Science and Technology-Food and Nutrition Research Institute (DOST-FNRI), Philippine Heart Center, Nutritionists-Dietitians’ Association of the Philippines (NDAP), Philippine Egg Board, Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI), and UNAHCO’s Sarimanok Poultry staged a mock trial accusing the humble egg of raising cholesterol among the population of the Philippines. The verdict? A resounding ‘not guilty!’
We are proud to have played our part both in liaising with farmers to identify the problems they’re facing and then talking directly to consumers to find out why they were steering clear of eggs.
When the answer is as simple as a common misconception, it’s easy to reach out and educate people on how they can get more protein by mixing up their diet and giving them a low-cost alternative to processed foods.
All in all, another cracking market research success story!