Smart spending — buy local, pay less and get more


MANY Malaysians will fervently declare support for local products. But how many can actually identify homegrown products among the thousands of items arranged on display racks in supermarkets and shopping centres around the country?

On Aug 27, two DayakDaily reporters visited a mall at the Kuching-Samarahan Expressway to conduct a street survey. The goal: to find out how many people out of 10 randomly selected respondents could clearly identify Malaysian brands and products—as in brands and products which originated from Malaysia—selected from five categories—instant noodles, beverages, snacks, home appliances and food and beverage (F&B) outlets.

Before sharing the results of the survey, first answer this: Is Maggi a Malaysian brand?

If you just answered ‘yes’, don’t worry, you’re not alone.

Maggi is not a Malaysian brand

Here’s the reality check: Maggi is not a Malaysian brand—it’s Swiss. In DayakDaily’s street survey, nine out of 10 respondents were very confident that Maggi is Malaysian.

“Maggi is definitely local.”

“Local brand? Maggi for sure.”

These were among genuine responses from respondents when asked to identify the homegrown representative from among Maggi, Ibumie, Mi Sedaap and Nong Shim. Only one out of the 10 respondents managed to see past Maggi and correctly chose Ibumie.

One of the survey questions was on instant noodle brands.

Contrary to most people’s belief, Maggi is actually an international brand which originated from Switzerland in the late 19th century, and it was acquired by Nestlé in 1947. It is obvious that the brand has been and is still widely mistaken as local due to it being a household name in Malaysia. From instant noodles to sauces and seasonings, Maggi products have been staples in many Malaysian households over decades.

Thus, it’s not surprising why almost all street survey respondents mistook Maggi instant noodles as a local product, instead of correctly picking out Ibumie. Mi Sedaap is from Indonesia while Nong Shim is from South Korea.

A similar trend was observed in replies to other questions in the street survey as a majority of respondents misidentified international brands which are well established in the country as Malaysian.

In the beverage category, only two respondents were able to correctly select Alicafe as a Malaysian brand while six chose Yeo’s which is from Singapore, and two others chose Milo from Australia.

From a list of snack brands featuring Munchy’s, Twisties, Mister Potato, Haw Flakes and Choki Choki, respondents fared better, with five choosing Munchy’s and the remaining five choosing Mister Potato. Both Munchy’s and Mister Potato are Malaysian grown.

For some questions, it was purely luck which landed respondents on the right answer.

For the home appliance question, six respondents chose Khind and two chose Pensonic as Malaysian brands, but most of them were wild guesses gone right. Only two respondents were sure of their choices and recognised Khind and Pensonic immediately as Malaysian-owned.

The others when forced to choose, simply went for brands they recognised, like Panasonic which is from Japan, or Singer from USA.

As for F&B outlets, respondents had to choose from Secret Recipe, Sushi King, and Big Apple Donuts and Coffee. Six people out of the ten respondents were able to correctly identify Secret Recipe as a locally founded F&B brand.

While the street survey respondents do not represent the whole of Malaysia, an important takeaway point from the exercise is that many people are unsure over which brands are actually local or foreign. It is evident that Malaysian brand awareness among the public has much room for improvement.

Based on the respondents’ answers, the DayakDaily reporters also observed that Malaysian brand awareness does not appear to be dependent on age, race, or purchasing power. Nowadays with relatively easy and cheaper access to the Internet, it doesn’t take much effort to find out which products available in your local market are made in Malaysia.

Vouchers for 10 respondents who took the awareness test (left). Handover of the voucher to one of the respondents at La Promenade Mall (right).

Why pay more? Pay less and get more

Assuming all Malaysians have the knowledge and ability to identify Malaysian brands and products, why then should we buy local?

Value for money for one. Malaysian products may be priced cheaper but they are often of comparable quality to non-Malaysian brands, as well as offer more diversified choices which have been customised for local tastes.

Lim Leong Chai, 58, from Stutong, Kuching, who is a firm believer in ‘paying less to get more’ believes most local products are on par with foreign products, despite their lower retail prices.

“Just because foreign brands are more established, it doesn’t mean that local products cannot compete with them. For me, there is no difference. Pricing wise, local products are cheaper compared to foreign products. So naturally, I will buy local products.

“A local product may cost RM10 but if you go for a foreign product, it may cost about RM14 to RM15. So if you choose local products, you can save some money and buy other items with the remaining money,” he explained.

In terms of the national economy, buying local also keeps money circulating within the domestic market, thus stimulating economic growth.

John Rungai Ajam, 44, from Kampung Melaban in Samarahan, opined that Malaysians should know and buy local products because this would eventually assist local businesses to grow and subsequently increase cash flow within the country.

“I also believe that our local products can compete with international or imported products as long as there is a market and with adequate promotion,” he said.

While some respondents were very enthusiastic about buying local products to support the country and local businesses, others begged to differ saying they would prioritise, in general, the price or quality of a product before buying, regardless of the brand.

Sylvia Cheong, 27, from Bintulu, said the question of local or foreign may not be a big deal to those who are familiar with online shopping, including herself.

“When you shop online, at some point, the local products are also pricey. In some cases, the international products are sold at cheaper prices compared to local ones.

“In that sense, I am more attracted to buying imported products or whichever is cheaper,” she said.

Meanwhile, 26-year-old Avertino Phua Twann Khiing from Kuching, said the price of a product does not really matter to him because he believes that every product, be it local or international, has its own advantages depending on what the consumer is looking for.

Despite the varied responses when questioned about purchasing habits, all respondents were of the opinion that local Malaysian products can compete on the global stage, on the condition that Malaysians should start buying them first.

Clockwise from top left: Lim, John, Avertino and Sylvia.

Spot Malaysian products in supermarkets, and even online!

While the Malaysian public in general may have the awareness and patriotism to support Malaysian products and brands, but what use is it if they do not know how to identify Malaysian goods?

Of course, the information is just a Google search away, but what if retail stores and online marketplaces could ease the search by doing the categorisation for customers?

In some supermarkets in Malaysia, special aisles or sections just for locally made products or brands have been set up for the convenience of shoppers. Sometimes these segments may go unnoticed, but they are there. Just keep an eye out for them and who knows you might find your new favourite ‘keropok’ (snack) on one of those shelves.

A more conventional method is to check product labels to look for the ‘Made in Malaysia’ or ‘Buatan Malaysia’ logo or wordings, which are mostly printed on back labels or on a corner of the packaging.

The logo is easy to spot and can help consumers to quickly identify the product’s manufacturer or origin.

Note that any item or products manufactured in Malaysia and not necessarily a local brand, is allowed to carry the ‘Made in Malaysia’ logo once approved by KPDNHEP. Examples of overseas-owned brands that are also manufactured in the country include Lay’s, Jacob’s, and Yeo’s which were founded in USA, Ireland, and Singapore respectively.

Made in Malaysia logos on packaging of (clockwide from top left) Mister Potato, Beryl’s, Munchy’s and Dutch Lady.

But what if you don’t have time to read the labels? What’s a savvy shopper determined to buy Malaysian products and support homegrown brands to do? Go online and let technology do the heavy lifting, of course.

Did you know that KPDNHEP is collaborating with major online platforms Shopee and Lazada to promote Malaysian products through the ‘Shop Malaysia’ initiative?

On the homepages of Shopee and Lazada, be it desktop or mobile app, there is the icon for ‘Shop Malaysia’. Clicking on it will bring users to a whole new world of local products where countless promotions and discounts will be sure to leave them in a daze at all the good deals to be had.

Malaysian products are available literally at your fingertips these days. So what excuse is there for not being able to recognise or access our own Malaysian brands?

Screenshots of the Shopee and Lazada mobile app pages with Shop Malaysia.

Going back to the street survey, the 10 respondents, despite their relatively low awareness of local brands and products, shared a clear and unquestionable sense of patriotism and pride to be Malaysians.

Malaysians, especially Sarawakians, are ever so supportive of the local economy, but why do people still recognise Maggi over Ibumie as local?

For more information on local products, please visit

Read more @ Aim for the world: Sarawakian brands have the potential to shine above all — DayakDaily