Filipinos have an affinity to imported products, especially those that came from the U.S. The’ stateside mentality’ is a big thing among Filipinos. If it came from the U.S., it’s the’ good stuff’. I, for one, always look forward to the Balikbayan box of my uncle, who’s based in California. His Balikbayan box is always filled with American-branded shoes, clothes, and lots of chocolates enough to give you cavities in less than a week. But aside from these imported products, what American products are popular in the Philippines?
Many Filipinos don’t realize that many of the products they use daily actually originated from the United States. Below are some of the products/brands that are a big hit among Pinoys.
Why do Filipinos love American products?
In general, Filipinos love foreign products, not just American items. Since America is the last country to colonize the Philippines, their influences are much modern, so it really hits the nail of commercialism among Filipinos. After all, the 1940s isn’t too far of a time. Most of our grandmas have lived in the era and are witnesses to American influences.
According to the Global Attitudes Project of the Pew Research Center, Filipinos like the United States more than Americans do. Data shows that 85% of Filipinos have a favorable view of Americans, whereas Americans only come second to having a positive view of their own selves.
This admiration is probably one of the reasons why Pinoys patronize American products.
Another possible reason is that the United States invested in teaching the locals the English language. And to be honest, Filipinos have high regard for those who can speak and communicate in English.
Based on my observation (and MY observation alone), Filipinos put America to a pedestal. A lot of Filipinos, including some of my relatives, have chased the American dream. That force trickles down to the American brand.
What American products are popular in the Philippines?
Are you planning to visit the Philippines soon? The following are some of the familiar products and brands you may see on the shelves:
When someone mentions the brand Dove to Filipinos, the first thing that comes to mind is its fragrant soap. Locals also make fun of this brand because it takes a dozen buckets of water to rinse it off. It’s silky and very soapy, but the smell is what sells it the most.
The first time I get to use Dove was when my uncle sent a Balikbayan box when I was in grade school. The smell of this soap wafts strongly from its white box. My mom even places it inside our aparador (closet) to make the clothes smell good.
Nowadays, Dove products are available in Philippine supermarkets. I’m not a fan of Dove soap but sure use Dove deodorant. Up to now, Dove is still a staple of Balikbayan boxes.
2. Safeguard soap
Safeguard is the soap that gives Dove a run for its money. When we Filipinos say Safeguard, we refer to the stiff body soap. It’s available in 60-gram plastic packs on sari-sari stores and boxed versions of supermarkets.
Our family grew up with Safeguard as the only soap that ‘touches’ our skin. We often joke that if you don’t bathe with Safeguard, did you even bathe at all? Safeguard soap also comes in different scents like lemon, lavender, pure white, guava, floral pink, and more. I can smell it as I write this.
And since we’re at bathroom supplies, I’m sure many Filipinos have brushed their teeth with Colgate toothpaste. It’s so popular that a lot of Filipinos use the term ‘Colgate’ as a generic reference to toothpastes as a whole.
Colgate has a rival in the Philippines, Close Up from Unilever, which is also an American product.
When I was a kid, I really believed that the white color of Colgate toothpaste would make my teeth white. That’s the reason I chose it over Close Up.
The Philippine market is saturated with Colgate products to this day, including mouthwashes and toothbrushes.
The first-ever shampoo I remember using as a kid is Vaseline. For a lot of Filipinos, Vaseline is all about shampoo, forget the lotion or petroleum jelly.
Vaseline entered the Filipino market with its budget-friendly shampoo sachets. These shampoo sachets are divided into four segments that resemble four washes. I remember my mom buying half a dozen from the sari-sari store and asking me to cut each portion off. Our rule is one portion for each wash.
Up to this day, Vaseline still sells their segmented shampoo sachets. Unfortunately, we switched to Head & Shoulders, which is another American brand.
One of the biggest brands that have infiltrated the Philippines is McDonald’s. It’s now the direct and notorious rival of the Philippines’ Jollibee fast-food. McDonald’s caters to college students and grown-ups while Jollibee enjoys the patronization of kids and a lot of adults too.
McDo, Filipinos’ short for McDonald’s, has 640 stores in the country since 2019. However, the local Jollibee isn’t one to be defeated on its own land since it boasts a stronghold of 1,300 stores since May 2019.
To appeal to the Filipino taste, McDonald’s offers steamed rice alongside its chicken meals. McDo still offers its McSpaghetti in the Philippines even after being discontinued in the United States. One thing you should know about us, Filipinos, is that we love carbs. It might be quirky, but some of us eat carbs with another carb (example: adding rice to spaghetti, yes, I do this).
6. American shoe brands
A lot of Filipinos are crazy about American shoe brands – Nike, Skechers, adidas, and more. For the most part, it’s because of the NBA fandom because Pinoys are big fans of basketball.
My cousin has a large collection of U.S. brand shoes – too many that it’s made a wall in his room. He considered these shoes as his prized possessions, even if he barely wears most of it.
Branded shoes that came from the U.S. is somehow a status symbol for the middle class to upper-class Filipino families. Having a pair is a sign that ‘you can afford’ or that you are ‘well-off’.
Imported shoes are also the most typical ‘pasalubong’ of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) to their relatives and friends here in PH.
7. M&Ms and Hershey
Another thing that Filipinos are fond of is imported chocolate products. It’s another staple Balikbayan box item, with M&Ms and Hershey topping the list. Both the kids and adults love these imported chocolate brands since it’s not every day they get to taste it.
From being a ‘pasalubong’ from an OFW relative, M&Ms and Hershey products are now available locally. You can find it in most supermarkets, with the smallest packet worth less than a dollar.
Aside from these two brands, other U.S. chocolate products that Filipinos love are Reese’s, Snickers, and Butterfingers.
8. Oreo Cookies
One of the American products that infiltrated many Filipino households are Oreo cookies. Rich or poor, most Filipinos have eaten Oreo cookies at least once.
It’s my favorite school snack when I was in grade school, and I’ll always beg my mom to buy me one whenever she takes me to get groceries.
Oreo cookies can be found in most supermarkets and even small-time sari-sari stores (neighborhood sundry stores) across our house. Unlike other American brands, Oreo is cheaper, which allowed it to reach low-income families. It’s also delicious since not all Filipino biscuits have that chocolatey taste.
9. Quaker Oats
I remember having my first taste of Quaker Oats when I was just five. Although Quaker Oats are more popular among middle-class Filipinos, it’s starting to gain more traction in the Philippine market. You can easily find shelves of Quaker oats and cookies on most supermarkets here.
Many Filipinos love the idea of instant oats – They just pour hot water, stir, and are ready to eat within minutes.
Nowadays, there are local brands that offer low prices than Quaker Oats. Here in the Philippines, an 800-gram bag of Quaker instant oats cost around Php 170.00 or around US$3.5. The Quaker Oats cookies, though, aren’t as popular as the instant oats yet.
Pringles is another American product that has been a Filipino favorite. As a kid, I’d always find towering Pringle cans in my aunt’s kitchen. It’s a salty and crunchy treat, which highly appeals to the taste buds of Filipinos.
Although it used to be an exclusive Balikbayan box item, Pringles has already infiltrated local supermarkets. It’s now available to almost all supermarkets in the country in different flavors and sizes. You can buy a can of Pringles for just Php 120.00 or around US$2.5.
11. Kit Kat
When I was in second grade, I had this classmate who will always share half of her Kit Kat with me. That’s the first time I got to taste this American chocolate wafer product. To this day, Kit Kat has successfully entered the Philippine market. Its success is due to the massive market of Nestle Philippines.
You can walk to any chocolate aisle on local groceries, and you can always find Kit Kat bars. Filipinos have even made their own cake recipe out of it.
Although Tide Pods are a stranger to the Filipino market, the bar soap and powder detergent aren’t. Tide has been widely popular, largely because of its iconic local commercials.
I grew up seeing Tide soap on the sari-sari store across the street, on our laundry area, and on TV. Tide was able to make an overnight star out of a little boy who starred in their commercial.
In some households, Tide is a generic product. When my mom tells me to buy ‘Tide’, that means I need to buy detergent, regardless of the brand. Its orange-colored packaging and iconic logo are recognizable even if I’m still meters away from the sari-sari store.
To be honest, Lysol is a brand popular only to middle-class Filipinos. Growing up, I never get to see a single Lysol canister in our home. Only when I was old enough to buy groceries that I started using this product.
On the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, Lysol disinfectant sprays were selling like hotcakes in the Philippines. Since it’s believed to have the ability to kill the virus, middle-class Pinoys are hoarding as many cans as they can manage.
Anyway, Lysol still has a long way to go to infiltrating the Filipino market. Many Pinoy moms are still not sold to the idea of spraying pillowcases of disinfectant instead of washing them.
Wondering what products aren’t available in the Philippines? Check our separate post about American things you can’t find in the Philippines.
So what American products are popular in the Philippines? If this is your first time in PH, you’ll be surprised that dozens of American products and brands have reached the Filipino’s daily life. From the food we eat, our bathroom supplies, and more, the U.S. influence lingers.