OFW’s worth: $10-B market

Published in Philippine Daily Inquirer, Business Friday, November 16, 2007

At the close of 2006, the Bangko Sentral Ng Pilipinas (BSP) reported $12.7B in OFW (overseas foreign worker) dollar remittances, up from $10.6B in 2005. It is estimated that there were 12M OFW families in 2006 up from 8M (PDI Research 1/2006) in 2005. The potential of the OFW segment has not escaped the marketers as more brands try to capture their attention and pocket power.

Nielsen Media Research, through a proprietary quantitative research reveals some interesting insights in the consumption, lifestyle and media habits of the beneficiaries of dollar remittances. The research drew respondents aged 18 years old and above across all socio-economic segments from Metro Manila, Balance Luzon, Metro Cebu and Davao City. This was conducted during the first quarter of 2007 and results released very recently.

Who art thou beneficiaries

OFW beneficiaries are those who receive dollar remittances on a regular, scheduled basis yearly. Nielsen’s research reveals that over one-third of at 33.6% of the OFW family universe enjoy a relatively comfortable life as opposed to less than one-fifth of the country’s local-based general population belonging to the ABC segment.


Breakdown of Socio-Economic Class

Socio-economic ClassGeneral PopulationOFW Beneficiaries
AB (monthly household of Php50,001 and above)1.44.3
C1 (monthly household income of Php30,001 to Php50th)3.66.6
C2 (monthly household income of Php15,001 to Php30,000)11.122.7
DE (Php 15,000 and below)83.966.4

Source:  PSRC/Media Factbook 2004;Nielsen Media

Research, 2007

Most beneficiaries are non-working housewives. More than three-fourth of them receive their remittances once a month. These are spent on basic needs covering household expenses, education, medical needs and home rental; followed by allocations on savings and investments that include bank savings, business, household appliances, insurance and real estate. The rest is allocated to payment of loans and personal debts.

Communications and media

A third of the OFW universe communicates with their beneficiaries at least once a week. The mobile phone remains to be the most pervasive means of communication at 83.7% followed closely by the landline, and in smaller percentages the internet and snail mail. Websites used for communication include the yahoo, friendster and AOL.

The OFW beneficiaries have a higher incidence of consumption of traditional media compared to the general population. This could be attributed to a higher disposable income. Notable though is their significant use of sound and visual media like radio, cinema,VCD and DVD as mediums of entertainment.

Table 2

Exposure to Media

MediaGeneral PopulationOFW Beneficiaries

Source: Nielsen Media Research, 2007

Higher consumption of traditional media is supported by a higher ownership of media facilities that allow them to enjoy the media formats.

Table 3

Ownership of media facilities

MediaGeneral PopulationOFW Beneficiaries

Source: Nielsen Media Research, 2007

Their Aspiration

OFW beneficiaries desire to have the following as soon as their basic needs have been satisfied: real estate (18.3%), high-technology gadgets (11.4%), car/transportation (11.3%), household appliances (10.8%) and a savings bank account (7%).

Apparently, setting up a business is not high on their list of priorities. In fact, only a third of the OFW beneficiaries engage in business at the present time. Most of the businesses they engage in are micro-businesses that include managing a sari-sari store or grocery, transport operator, meat shop, canteen or restaurant and buy and sell services. Their most capital-intensive business would be an apartment or condo rental.

Who is the OFW provider

< domestic and caregivers singers, nursing, include that jobs service professions female-oriented more traditionally for demand the to attributed be could workers overseas female young of number increasing The (11.7%). mothers (17.8%) sons (28.5%), daughters by followed (36.1%) heads household male are providers OFW third a than>More data on OFW beneficiaries can be obtained from Nielsen Media Research.