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Holiday forecast: Lockdown-weary Pinoys to reward selves

By: - Reporter / @neltayao
/ 05:20 AM August 29, 2020

After months of limiting their purchases to “essentials,” Filipinos may be expected to indulge in “self-gifting” in the coming holiday season, according to a recent report by Facebook titled “Mega Sales & Holiday 2020.”

The report prepared by Facebook IQ, the social media company’s digital and marketing insights arm, analyzed holiday trends in the Philippines as influenced by the COVID-19 pandemic.

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“We’ve all been stressed, so people will buy something nice for themselves in the next couple of months,” John Rubio, Facebook Philippines’ country director, said in an online press briefing on Friday.

“People have been delaying [buying] clothes, electronics, the new smartphone they want to get, the new appliance they want for their kitchen,” he said.

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The Facebook report is based on the following sources: a survey in partnership with research firm YouGov and conducted from Dec. 2 to 24 last year among some 1,200 shoppers in the Philippines ages 18 and above; an analysis with research firm GlobalWebIndex (GWI) made in April, one month into the pandemic and involving about 760 internet users in the country ages 16 to 64; and an analysis of Facebook conversion and conversation data in the Philippines from Oct. 1, 2019 to Jan. 31, 2020.

Based on the report, consumers are expected to catch up on purchases prioritizing travel (24 percent), clothing (22 percent), personal electronics (19 percent), home appliances and other devices (16 percent) and smartphones (15 percent) as their first nonessential “big” buys.

Gen X-ers, baby boomers

Rubio said almost half of Filipinos wanted to reward themselves as the holidays approach.

He said many consumers may do so by buying a new phone, considering that mobile usage has significantly increased amid the pandemic, as the Facebook report shows.

This is especially true among Gen X-ers and baby boomers who make up 82 percent of those surveyed in the Philippines, according to GWI data.

Moreover, among members of these age groups, almost 80 percent have also been shopping online since the pandemic hit.

“If we look back on the SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) outbreak in 2003, it was the tipping point for mobile technology. [T]hat was when it really started taking off, because of this whole concept around changing behaviors,” Rubio said.

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“The internet emerged as a mass medium, and interestingly, when you look at China’s [shopping website] Taobao and all the big internet companies, if you graph their tipping point, it happened around the SARS outbreak, and [post-SARS],” he recalled.

Even patronage of home entertainment products went up during that period, Rubio added.

He said COVID-19 is similarly driving the growth of technology around three areas, mobile, e-commerce, and messaging.

“Before, we found joy in bringing home all those shopping bags; now, there’s the joy of the doorbell—we get a rush when we hear that sound, because it could be a delivery,” Rubio said, pointing out the emergence of a different kind of holiday shopping experience for Filipinos.

‘Mega sales’

This shopping experience, while no longer a physical one, continues to be social for Filipinos, Rubio said, as consumers still want to be able to chat with merchants to ask details about products they intend to purchase, unlike shoppers in the United States who are fine with “self-service.”

Because the pandemic has affected people’s spending power, many will also watch for “mega sales”—another 2020 holiday trend identified by the Facebook report. Rubio said Filipinos will definitely go bargain-hunting, since even before the pandemic, price has always been a point of concern for consumers.

And if a business is offering something new, the good news is that many shoppers are trying out new behaviors, products, and services amid this pandemic, according to the Facebook report.

In the Philippines 78 percent of shoppers, many of them millennials and Gen Zs, are eager to explore new product categories this holiday season.

Rubio also pointed an emerging sensitivity among online consumers.

“Whether or not you’re a big brand, people want to see a sense of empathy with regards to everything that happened,” he said. “Whether it’s being cognizant of how you operate, or how you care for your customers—like extending flexible payment terms.”

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TAGS: COVID-19 pandemic, Facebook IQ, holidays, John Rubio, lockdown
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