Filipinos Are the Wokest in Southeast Asia, According to Study

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Conscious consumer is one of the top 10 global trends,” says Devi Attamimi, institute director of the Hakuhodo Institute of Life and Living (HILL) ASEAN. She describes “conscious consumers” as “people who want to positively contribute to environmental and social causes when making purchase decisions and brand selection.”  

Southeast Asians are adopting socially conscious habits.

Attamimi and colleagues presented the findings from their research in a webinar titled “The Rise of Conscious ASEANs: Why Should You Care?” The study explored the unique ways consumers in Southeast Asia are adopting socially conscious lifestyles and habits. The market research from HILL ASEAN noted the key characteristics that differentiate conscious consumption in Southeast Asia from consumption trends in other parts of the world, such as the greater emphasis on community and positivity.  

The HILL study based their research on online surveys, home visits, and interviews with Key Opinion Leaders in several ASEAN nations. According to most of the survey stats, Filipinos generally seemed to be more woke than the other Southeast Asians.

Filipinos are more woke than other Southeast Asians.

The overall percentage of ASEAN people who responded that they were living a conscious lifestyle was 78 percent. The percentage of Filipinos was 84 percent. Out of this group of consumers who declared that they were living conscious lifestyles, 94 percent of Filipinos responded that they were practicing conscious consumption proactively and encouraging others to do so as well, which was the highest figure among the ASEAN countries studied. The overall average of ASEAN people who responded that they were proactively taking conscious actions was 86 percent.


When asked how much more they would pay to purchase socially conscious products, 84 percent of the Filipino survey respondents said they would pay a premium (of at least 20 percent) to support a conscious brand, while the ASEAN overall average was 81 percent.

Millennials and Gen Zers use Internet skills to spot conscious pretense.

These high percentages that reflect a great enthusiasm for conscious consumption do not mean that Southeast Asian consumers are naive about jumping on a conscious bandwagon. Consumers genuinely care about the social and environmental impact of their consumption and are wary of greenwashing claims. Seventy-eight percent of the survey respondents actively search for brands that have a positive impact on good causes.

And they try to investigate the claims the companies make. In a post-truth digital age, Millennial and Gen Z consumers display high levels of media literacy and have the basic online detective skills to debunk false claims and superficial token gestures from companies who put up a conscious pretense.  

Filipinos practice conscious consumption to help those who are 'near and dear.'

Conscious consumers in Southeast Asia, according to interview participants, feel they need to care more about the social and environmental impact of their lifestyles and consumption habits. Unlike socially conscious consumers in many Western countries, the effects of issues such as climate change and pollution have more urgent and severe consequences on countries in the Global South.

The HILL study has noted that most ASEAN conscious consumption is motivated by the need to help those “near and dear” to them, whereas Western conscious consumers are more driven by a distant notion of helping “them” or those people over there. Seventy percent of the Filipino survey respondents said that they practice conscious consumption to help those who are “near and dear,” as most of them know a person or a community directly affected by a social or environmental issue.

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Southeast Asians use social media to praise those who contribute to good causes. 

The other characteristics unique to ASEAN conscious consumption have to do with positivity and sharing. The HILL study uses the terms “Instagood” and “Good Vibes Only” as the key points of difference from conscious consumption elsewhere. They found that lots of social or environmental activism online in recent years have been characterized by the need to criticize and call out corporations for their toxic and destructive actions.

Southeast Asian conscious consumers are also aware of this need to criticize wrongdoings, but what makes the conscious lifestyles of ASEAN people so unique is the importance of praising those who genuinely contribute to good causes and sharing their achievements on social media.

A common trend in conscious consumption around the world is to start social media campaigns to boycott the products of socially and environmentally destructive companies, whereas ASEAN conscious consumers are more likely to publicize and recommend socially conscious brands and products. Eighty-six percent of the survey respondents said that they recommend and share with their friends the products they approve of.  

Southeast Asians will become even more socially conscious because of COVID-19.

The researchers at HILL ASEAN believe that COVID-19 will make Southeast Asian consumers even more conscious, and the consumption trends they have noticed will grow stronger. With people spending more hours at home, their daily screen time has increased, and they are more likely to participate in social media activities and campaigns. Being forced to stay at home has also increased the time people spend doing housework, and they are more likely to re-evaluate their consumption habits and lifestyles.  


HILL ASEAN is a think tank set up by the Hakuhodo Group, a Japanese advertising and marketing solutions company. For more information about its research, please visit its website.

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