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
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 (http://francorp.com.ph/are-you-franchisable/) 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 email@example.com, or visit francorp.com.ph.
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