Line of Sight

Penetrating the Filipino market

FILIPINOS spend more time on social media than anyone else in the world, according to a recent global study conducted by the social media marketing firm, We Are Social. As of January this year, 58 percent of the country’s population (around 60 million Filipinos) is connected to the internet. The study added that in 2016, Filipinos spent an average of 4.17 hours daily on social media; 3.6 hours of which (three-quarters of that time) were spent using their smartphones.

Who could have ever imagined that the telephone of Alexander Graham Bell in 1876 which is the size of a huge bag would mutate itself more than a century later into a handy piece of multi-functional device? The world is practically within our reach, right through the palm of our hands. How do smartphones and the social media affect companies and businesses in the Philippines and how they interact with their Filipino market?

Undoubtedly, the internet is going mobile and with this shift in technology, businesses in the Philippines with smartphone-compatible websites are at a competitive advantage over those with websites that are not smartphone-friendly. These incompatible websites are cluttered when viewed through mobile phones; the images may not show up, texts are too large or scrolling through them makes it difficult and inconvenient for consumers. For a brand to compete now, it needs to be as mobile as the customers.

We are now living in a world where everything should be easy and convenient. With just a few taps on your smartphone, you can already place an order of your favorite burger and French fries, delivered to your doorstep, fast and easy. Of course, no one can deny the emerging growth of online shopping in the Philippines. Who are not familiar with online platforms like Zalora, Lazada, and OLX which are transforming the old shopping methodologies that Filipinos were used to in the past?

MasterCard’s Mobile Shopping Survey in 2016 reported: “More Filipinos are using smartphones to shop for the convenient transactions, and are focused on fashion items, beauty products, and home accessories.” The survey also noted that in the Philippines, the increase in mobile shopping was dramatic, with 41 percent of the respondents purchasing an item via their smartphones. Filipinos point to being able to shop on-the-go and convenience as the primary reasons for mobile shopping.

Social media also have significant impacts on marketing and advertising in the Philippines. If you’re not “following” and “friending” or “tweeting” and “YouTubing”, you’re missing out on a lucrative opportunity to connect and engage with the Filipino market nowadays. Strong social media presence can entirely make a difference for Philippine businesses.

You can just imagine how a short clip uploaded on content-sharing websites like YouTube and Vimeo can reach millions of prospective and target customers. Social media marketing increases brand awareness and helps companies establish a growing online market of Filipinos that will, willingly and unwillingly, promote their business through liking and sharing.

For instance, Facebook, the world’s largest social media outlet, allows businesses to advertise to its billions of active subscribers using the highly-advanced “Ads Manager” tool to aim ads at the companies’ exact target market. Not to mention all those pesky ads that pop out on the screen when we are playing online games or those lurking on the sides of websites. These are annoying for some but unconsciously, it slowly penetrates the Filipino market right through the palm of their hands.

Just this Valentine’s Day, the whole Filipino social media were reacting and debating the three promotional videos of a famous fastfood brand on YouTube and Facebook. The fastfood brand not only premiered these videos on the social media to create enough buzz but they also promoted them during the meal hours so that the hunger would follow the buzz.

Lastly, social media is an effective tool for companies to improve their customer service by receiving feedback from customers and clients. If companies have good social media presences, it would be easier for them to address complaints, concerns, and inquiries from its market. A company that wishes to innovate should not do all the talking, it also should listen.

Indeed, technology has greatly changed how Filipinos make business these days. Now, it becomes a challenge for companies and businesses, big and small alike, how they can keep up with the rapid change in technology and how they can manage to jump ahead of ahead of competitors to take advantage of the turning tide. It is either you swim or you sink.

Mr. Mamacus is with the P&A Grant Thornton, one of the leading Audit, Tax, Advisory, and Outsourcing firms in the Philippines with 21 partners and over 800 staff members.  It has branches in Cavite, Cebu, and Davao.  We’d like to hear from you!  Tweet us: @PAGrantThornton, like us on Facebook: P&A Grant Thornton, and email your comments to raymond.mamacus@ph.gt.com or pagrantthornton.marketscomm@ph.gt.com. For more information, visit our Website: www.grantthornton.com.ph.

 

As published in The Mindanao Times, dated 21 February 2017