Filipinos Prioritize Hygiene Over Food in Times of Emergencies, According to Research  

In times of emergencies, Filipinos turn to... haircare? 

As they say, cleanliness is next to godliness, and there’s no other country as religious as The Philippines in Southeast Asia. According to research from Packworks Sari IQ, Filipinos are more likely to spend on self-care and self-hygiene products in the event of disasters or emergencies. 

Packworks Sari IQ analyzed data from three recent natural disasters—Typhoon Odette in December 2021, Taal volcanic unrest in March 2022, and Abra earthquake in June 2022—and discovered that the highest percentage of total sales volume in sari-sari stores went to… shampoo and conditioner. 

Approximately 18 percent of sales went to haircare products, while laundry supplies came in at second place with 16 percent of sales. Coming in third was the “others” category, which included oral care, body care, beverages, and canned goods. It seems that it was only after all the haircare, laundry supplies, oral care, and body care that Filipinos became concerned about food. Breakfast items like tea, coffee, and creamer came in at fourth place with 14 percent, followed by cooking necessities at 13 percent, oats and cereals at 13 percent, and pasta and noodles at 11 percent. 


Culturally, Filipinos are known for good self-hygiene, so the results aren’t too surprising. Philippine society associates cleanliness with dignity and self-respect, which are sentiments that disaster victims cling to in times of struggle. Dealing with earthquakes, eruptions, and typhoons is stressful enough without having to worry about your hygiene and health. 

However, priorities might change depending on the type of disaster, which we, unfortunately, have many of. According to Packworks Sari IQ, haircare sales spiked by more than 50 percent in volume during the Abra earthquake and the Taal Volcano unrest, but food spending was a bigger priority in Leyte after Typhoon Odette as noodles and cooking essentials spending increased to almost 60 percent. Either way, the study’s overall discovery was clear: Filipinos go to local sari-sari stories before supermarkets when their community is facing an emergency. 

“The Philippines is a regular target of natural disasters because of its location at the Pacific Ring of Fire. Residents at the epicenter opt to buy their immediate necessities from a nearby sari-sari store rather than go to big supermarkets,” said Andres Montiel, Packworks’ Head of Data. Sari IQ is Packwork’s business intelligence tool that gives retailers the data-backed insight they need to understand consumer behavior and spending habits.

“The analysis on the sari-sari stores becomes more valuable to track what items are deemed to be essential upon the occurrence of such natural disasters. This can be helpful in demand planning and product seasonality on the brand principal’s end,” Montiel added.

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Anri Ichimura
Section Editor, Esquire Philippines
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