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Franchise Talk: Franchising in ASEAN Revisited By Samie Lim, Chairman Francorp

Franchise Talk: Franchising in ASEAN Revisited

By Samie Lim, Chairman Francorp

It has already been two

years since the launching

of the ASEAN Economic

Community (AEC), which promised a

new era of opportunities for the region.

But like all good opportunities many

have missed it or have failed to see the

possibilities that the AEC is offering.


Yes, the facts are clear that

ASEAN is currently the 6th largest

economy in the world and has a market

of about 630 million. Furthermore,

there is a big chance of the ASEAN

economy inching up in the coming

decades because of its annual GDP

growth of 5%.


Despite these glowing

statistics, there are still Philippine

businesses who prefer to look beyond

ASEAN for expansion opportunities

because of the notion that ASEAN

countries are so similar that there

are no investment prospects worth

exploring. While it is true that ASEAN

countries have many commonalities,

I have also seen that we differ in

many aspects. These I have seen in

my participation in business missions

organized by the Department of Trade

and Industry (DTI), the Philippine

Franchise Association (PFA) and in my

personal trips across the region.


We are not a monolithic market

as many of us would think. We are

diverse economically with Singapore

having a GDP per capita higher even

that that of the United States and

50 times higher than Myanmar and

Cambodia. We differ in our language,

religion and culture. And more than

these, we also differ in our preferences

and tastes.


We, Filipinos, love to go

to malls but the Vietnamese still

prefer to spend time outdoors and in

parks. Despite the heat, I have seen

Vietnamese eating in outdoor cafes

and restaurants. Price matters to both

Indonesian and Malaysian consumers

but Malaysians are willing to spend on

well-known brands while Indonesians

spend on products with good quality.

Singaporeans, meanwhile, value

premium, healthy and safe products

and they are very particular on about

customer care and after sales service.

Myanmar consumers love to travel

and this may be due to the fact

thatMyanmar has the highest number

of public holidays in ASEAN. Laotian

consumers like to party and they party

with Beerlao, which they consider the

best beer in the world. I have seen

how Laotians party during one of my

trips and theirs is definitely one for

the books. I remembered observing

one from my hotel. The party started

late Friday afternoon and this lasted

until Saturday dawn. It is not easy to

ignore the revelers because their music

was raging all through the night. But

what was most surprising for me was

that when evening came they were

partying again. All through the night.

These and other experiences

have made me realize that there is more

to the ASEAN market than meets the

eye. There are various nuances to the

ASEAN market. These nuances make

ASEAN an exciting and rewarding

market for Philippine franchises going



Recognizing this, we, in

Francorp, have partnered with AS

Louken, a global branding authority,

and Astreem Consultancy, an expert

in internationalizing brands, to better

equip us in helping our clients connect

with their market and prospective

partners in ASEAN.


Philippine franchises have

a lot of catching up to do, however.

Based on latest figures from PFA, there

are about 10 Philippine franchises

expanding in ASEAN countries. This

is a far cry, however, from Malaysia’s

77 brands and Singapore’s 50 brands

operating across ASEAN. Our closest

rival would be Indonesia with 12 brands

operating in other ASEAN countries.



Clearly, the best time to

expand in ASEAN was a few years

back. The next best time is today. So

let us roll our sleeves and start working.

Let us proudly raise the Philippine flag

all over ASEAN.




Francorp is the world’s leader in franchising. Take a free franchisability test ( and learn whether your business is ready to grow through franchising. For more information on franchising, contact Francorp Philippines at (02) 638-3149,(+63917) 835.55.30, email, or visit



Samie Lim is the acknowledged “Father of Philippine Franchising.” He is currently Chairman of franchise consultancy Francorp Philippines, Chairman Emeritus of the Philippine Franchise Associationand Chariman of the Blims Lifestyle Group