PETALING JAYA: Despite the rising cost of living, Malaysian consumers identify strongly with expensive branded products, said the Federation of Malaysian Consumers Associations (Fomca).
Its chief executive officer Datuk Paul Selvarajsaid instead of buying cheaper in-house brands, consumers opt for branded items that are usually more expensive.
“This shows we have become a materialistic society,” he said during The Star's “Protect Our Pockets” roundtable on the rising cost of living on Tuesday.
He said Malaysians have become obsessed with brands until they overlook cheaper price items which they think have less quality.
“Appearances have become more important than substance. They buy a car not because it could bring them from one place to another but to make them feel better.
“It is about our value system. One example is buying a Honda City when they can only afford a Perodua Kancil,” said Selvaraj.
Other panellists at the roundtable were Malaysian Retailers-Chains Associations secretary-general Valerie Choo, Carrefour marketing communications (Singapore and Malaysia) director Low Ngai Yuen,Pemandu director of National Key Result Areas and National Key Economic Areas D. Ravindran, Pemandu senior manager Philip See andThe Star's executive editor Datuk Wong Sai Wan.
Wong added that the basic rule of smart consumerism was spending within one's means and being mindful of consumption.
“You can come out with all sorts of formulae, but you must spend less than you earn. Everyone should also set aside at least 30% of their earnings for emergencies,” he said.
Choo concurred, adding that: “Financial planning is more than just an ability to manage money but a value that is inculcated at a young age.”
She added that parents play a vital role as role models for their children on the importance of savings.