‘Hugot’ becomes byword in selling brands | Inquirer Business

‘Hugot’ becomes byword in selling brands

/ 12:11 AM April 07, 2017

If people get a sense that you  are being manipulative,  you automatically lose authenticity

Kantar is one of the world’s leading data, insight and consultancy firms with 30,000 employees providing business strategies for clients in 100 countries.


Kantar is part of advertising giant WPP and its services are employed by over half of the Fortune Top 500 companies.

Ria Vita Puangco is Kantar Added Value Philippines managing director. She started her communications career as a strategic planner for advertising before entering market research and brand strategy. Her consulting work spans across various industries and categories, including local government units, nonprofit and multilateral organizations.


Besides the Philippines, she has worked in key Asian markets such as Indonesia, Vietnam and Thailand. She shares her insights on how to market ideas in the Philippines:

Q: What should every marketer know about Filipino consumers?

A: For one, digital and mobile use is widespread across socioeconomic classes and age groups. Consumers will teach us how they will use technology the best.

Second, there seems to be a strong return to morality and family values, centered around togetherness and family bonding. We continue to respond to emotionality.

However, there appears to be a stronger need to connect on a person-to-person level as opposed to encouraging belongingness in a big group.

Thirdly, touch points are ever more important. People now experience life in key moments and are able to create immediately a repository of artifacts that can recall those feelings and multiply them across communities and tribes.

For brands, presence in those moments should be matched with strong relevance. What you can do for them in those moments is elevated by what you stand for.


We recommend to our clients that they must let consumers tell their stories, get to know how they feel and what they do.

Q: What patterns of marketing communications connect with Filipino

A: The Filipino audience connects mainly with compelling characters and surprising stories relevant in the everyday.

Characters that people see in communications may also translate into the personality they associate with a brand. Our Brand Lab brings together key players in telling brand stories and helps define go and no-go areas for easy reference in communication planning.

Stories with elements of uncertainty begging to be revealed have also been very successful.

The news feed on social networks has become Bible truth to a large segment of the population. The more the population is bombarded or exposed to a story, the more the story encourages sharing and discussion, and the more people think it is the truth.

Online reviews have also become crucial to establishing credibility and reliability.

Q: What are the new realities on how brands should market their ideas in the Philippines?

A: Reality 1: Consumers expect to act on the information you tell them. Online, the two steps of knowing and acting on the information intuitively flow from each other. You need to get online, or get left behind.

Reality 2: Create online ads that are strategically built for the medium. It is no longer enough to simply post an ad for TV into your brand’s Facebook page or YouTube channel and expect it to engage people. A video for online release must have its own objectives and should be designed for the strengths and limitations of the medium.

Reality 3: Media-based communication is no longer enough to make them love you. Experiential marketing is on the rise. Devising an activation that will allow for a “moment” to happen between your audience and your brand might become a strong expectation in the future. This might also be an effective way to introduce new technologies and brand innovations without alienating loyal customers.

Reality 4: Agility beats perfection. When an opportunity presents itself, marketers have to think on their feet. Here we can cite “Aldub” and Pokemon Go as two separate but indicative phenomena.

The brands that succeeded in using these to the fullest were the ones that were first. Also, high impact does not necessarily mean the effect will be long-lasting. Initiatives that take advantage of these phenomena should be related to immediate results. Cash in on the trend, and let it go.

Reality 5: Authenticity works, not emotional manipulation. Consumers are now sensitive to messages that seem real and heartfelt, but could be inauthentic. Candor is appreciated, expressiveness is seen as a sign of honesty, even in faux pas moments. But it has to be believable from where your brand stands in people’s minds.

Q: What changes in Filipino values have you spotted?

A: More than ever before, Filipinos are highly involved in the national discourse. We are talking about what is important to us as a nation.

Despite the fact that we are quite divided in opinion, I believe we are becoming a more conversant Philippines. Wala na masyadong nakakahiya ngayon (There is no embarassing topic anymore).

People will vent on social media and tell you to your face what they think. Yes, it still has the distance and anonymity of the online world but at least we are expressing ourselves.

Likewise, consumers are no longer shy to affirm good brand experiences or strongly show disappointment. It will make for a more competitive environment for brands, for sure.

One tool that Kantar Added Value is bringing here is the Cultural Insights tool, a deep dive into the cultural space for a brand or product. This is especially relevant to categories that have been losing relevance, or leading brands that are strongly under attack from challengers and new entrants.

Q: When are old ideas best disrupted in the market place?

A: Credible heritage brands are no longer in the strongest position in the market despite their huge distribution and marketing capabilities. The strongest position now lies with the challenger brand because they can easily push the leader into an irrelevant space by simply introducing new ideas.

If you are the leader, disrupt your own position. Find a way to infuse your team with the thinking of your competitors. Some digital firms even create their own competitors.

If you are a challenger, identify brand values that the leader cannot claim, and attack from an innovation standpoint. Question the way things are done and find a way of making the experience better for your clients. Examples include BDO introducing banking that goes beyond 3:00 p.m. and the case of Uber and Grab versus independent taxi operators.

Q: How can big brands show their authenticity and not be impersonal?

A: Definitely, if people get a sense that you are being manipulative, you automatically lose authenticity. You may claim authenticity in a variety of ways.

The most common would be provenance or history. Where are you made? How are you made? What was it in your history that connects with your brand values? By buying the product, you can connect to the truth of its heritage.

Alignment of claimed product performance and actual experience also makes a brand feel authentic. Experience includes all the sensorial elements: look, feel, taste, smell, even sound.

Character and personal connection could also make a brand feel authentic. This involves how people connect with the character of the brand and how relevant it is to consumers. Are you reachable for feedback? Can customers actually let you know when they are disappointed? Do you respond quickly to their feedback?

Q: Does “hugot (emotional statement)” marketing work? How?

A: Despite being vocal about our opinions nowadays, we still keep our deepest emotions to ourselves. Hugots can be anything that brings to light those unexpressed thoughts and feelings in the most vulnerable parts of us.

A statement becomes a hugot when somebody expresses it in a way that makes you feel that emotion; best when couched in wit or humor. The more unused or unexpressed a hugot is, the more powerful it can be. Sounds like your traditional marketing insight, right?

Yes, hugot can work as a communication tool, but I don’t think it will sell products per se. It will raise awareness, or increase engagement, but you will still have to pair it with strong alignment with the rest of the marketing mix.

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