Local brands should help Malaysians buy better instead of buying more

MALAYSIAN brands must be at the forefront of helping Malaysians buy better in order to drive faster economic rebound.

Economically speaking, the more people spend, the more money changes hands. This would result in a better impact on the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) and subsequently the prosperity will be shared in the form of salary increases for Malaysians.

The past 15 months has posed numerous challenges for businesses and Malaysians alike. Multiple lockdowns had resulted in revenue inconsistencies for businesses. Business inconsistencies had resulted in job and salary cuts. The ultimate aftermath – Malaysians’ median monthly wages which was steadily increasing since 2010 took a 9% dip to RM2,933 for the first time in 2020.

This does not mean that Malaysians will stop buying. Oxwhite’s data shows that Malaysians are still spending. Some 58% of these Malaysian consumers make their purchase decisions based on what they need, and another study last year revealed that seven in 10 Malaysians are choosing to help support local businesses.

Rachel Tan

This change in sentiment is golden. Local brands must not forget that Malaysian consumers who are now increasingly supporting local businesses are not looking for cheaper alternatives.

The switch in support towards local brands comes from a place of social consciousness — of wanting to contribute towards economic rebound. As such local brands must up their standards to fulfill the expectations of these Malaysians and subsequently gain the trust of a wider group of Malaysians.

In the spirit of Malaysia Prihatin, perhaps local brands can give back to Malaysian consumers who are showing their social consciousness by supporting local businesses by:

Helping Malaysians buy better instead of buying more

The steady increase in Malaysian median monthly salary between 2010 and 2019 has given average Malaysians the power to choose better products and services. This power has trained Malaysians to want better quality products and equipped them with the ability to distinguish the good and the bad.

Brands must recognise that Malaysian consumers know and demand quality products. Only by recognising that Malaysian consumers are smart and distinctive and by insisting on producing and selling premium quality products at affordable prices, was Oxwhite able to close 2020 with over RM15 mil in revenue.

Invest in engaging directly with consumers

As businesses try to stay relevant and innovative, they fixate on hottest and latest trends and what other brands are doing. As a result, a vital growth component – the consumers – tend to be left out.

Perhaps, in the spirit of Malaysia Prihatin, now is a good time for brands to engage closely with consumers in all aspects of the business – from what they want in a product and how much they can afford to pay for the product to where they want to purchase the product.

This has proven very successful among brand owners in promoting brand loyalty. Oxwhite’s founder CK Changr actively engages with consumers on Oxwhite Community, a Facebook group consisting of over 25,000 Malaysians and the brand has a customer retention rate of about 50%. Previously, this formula was also applied by founder of AirAsia Tan Sri Tony Fernandes.

Introduce brand innovation by leaning on other local brands

With the continuous push for globalisation in the past decade, the days of import being the benchmark of quality is now a thing of the past. Barang Buatan Malaysia has on many occasions proven to be on par if not better than the foreign counterparts.

As such, it’s time that local brands collaborate and lean on each other to expand their market share and provide consumers with the best that each brand can bring to the table.

This is a tried and tested strategy adopted by Oxwhite and many other successful brands alike in their hunt for whitespace in the clouded red ocean. In their effort to provide more options to reach out to expand its customer base last year, Oxwhite collaborated with local household brand, Mamee to create t-shirts with the iconic Mamee Monster design. As a result, 900 pieces of Oxwhite x Mamee limited edition tee were sold within 10 days. – Aug 10, 2021


Rachel Tan is the head of business for Oxwhite a luxury lifestyle brand specializing in quality essentials tailored for Asians.

The views expressed are solely of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Focus Malaysia.


Photo credit: Shutterstock

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