Corporate News

By Cathy Rose A. Garcia,
Associate Editor

Save, not spend: Parents want ‘Gen Z’ kids to be money-smart

Posted on February 27, 2017

MAJORITY of Filipino parents are concerned about the financial future of their children, particularly their ability to save and manage money, according to a new study commissioned by Turner Broadcasting System Asia Pacific.

Filipino-Chinese students with rooster hats gesture after tossing a coin in front of a Prosperity Tree display, which is believed to bring good luck and fortune, ahead of the Lunar New Year celebrations at the Lucky Chinatown mall in Binondo city, Metro Manila, Philippines Jan. 26. -- REUTERS
The “New Generations Philippines 2017” report showed 83% of Filipino parents expressed concern about their kids’ future ability to save money. On the other hand, 76% of the respondents worry about their kids’ ability to support a family of their own.

“It’s something we see across the region. I guess it’s borne out of the financial crisis... There has been a real concern about finances,” David Webb, director for research and planning at Turner Asia Pacific, told BusinessWorld in a recent interview in Bonifacio Global City.

Many of the parents interviewed for the study had lived through the Asian financial crisis, and most recently the global financial crisis.

“I think it was down to the financial crisis. Millennial parents when they were young, they lived through the Asian financial crisis. They’re cognizant of finances and what can happen if things go wrong. The recent global financial crisis, perhaps reminding them a bit of that. They want kids to be insured from any financial uncertainty in the future,” Mr. Webb said.

Turner, the company behind popular kids’ channels Cartoon Network and Toonami, conducts the “New Generations Philippines” study every 18 months. It aims to analyze the habits and preferences of Filipino children, aged 4 to 14. Conducted in the fourth quarter of 2016, more than 500 child-parent pairs from affluent homes were interviewed in Mega Manila.

While similar studies are conducted in other Asia-Pacific markets, Mr. Webb said there are different factors for different markets. In Australia, for instance, parents are concerned about their children’s ability to afford their own homes, since housing prices are now out of reach for many with average income.

“What we found here in the Philippines is it was more about the kids’ ability to save money and financial literacy,” the Turner executive said, noting the growing emergence of the middle class.

In terms of spending habits, 63% of Filipino children spent their money on food and snacks, followed by toys, school supplies and clothes.

Banks and financial institutions may find it interesting that the New Generations 2017 study also showed 64% of Filipino parents feel that banks should play a role in financial literacy for kids.

More importantly, 78% of Filipino parents surveyed said they would be more likely to open an account with a bank that offers financial education programs.

“When we spoke to the parents, a lot of them would say they already have bank accounts for the kids. Those who did said they have the same bank as their kids for the ease of it. They all felt there was an opportunity for banks to support that and to do more around it,” Mr. Webb said.

The Cartoon Network worked with Prudential Corp. Asia (PCA) for the animated musical cartoon Cha-Ching, an early financial literacy program. The Cha-Ching music videos feature characters like Prudence and Charity who have different money-spending habits and sing songs about four core money concepts -- earn, spend, save and donate.

In the Philippines, PCA’s local unit Pru Life UK partnered with the Department of Education in April 2012 to integrate the Cha-Ching Financial Literacy for the Youth program in the Grade 2 curriculum of selected educational institutions.

“Prudential was well ahead of the curve in doing that. We think there’s more potential for the banks there,” Mr. Webb said.

“The New Generations 2017” study, the 7th edition done in the Philippines, offers some insight on what’s “in” with the post-millennial generation or “plurals.” Turner defined “plurals” as those aged 14 and younger.

“We’re really measuring the media habits and interests, and what’s in with kids at the moment. That helps us understand how to create content, how can our partners create content and engage with kids,” Mr. Webb said.

For plurals, everything is changing. “They’re very adaptive and curious. Not just about age as a number, their social, cognitive skills, their dexterity, their ability to use different devices and stuff,” he added.

Good for Turner, the study found kids are still watching television.

“TV remains number one. We’re not seeing any significant decline in TV viewing. It’s quite significant here in the Philippines. It’s over five hours a day that kids are consuming TV content,” Mr. Webb said.

He noted Filipino parents have high trust levels for TV, since they can monitor the programs their children are watching.

“TV really is becoming that trusted platform again. Its something that parents can get their family time around... Unlike mobile phone or tablets, TV tends to be more of a shared experience,” Mr. Webb said.

More children are increasingly using the Internet. There was a big growth in the percentage of kids watching online videos, from 16% in “The New Generations 2015” study to 35% in the latest study.

Social media use is also high among Filipino children, unlike Western or other more developed markets where parents are more guarded about their children’s social media access. Indonesia was another country where children had high levels of social media use.

“If you look at the Philippines and Indonesia, they’re both archipelagos and lots of families are broken across those islands and lots of families have people working overseas. So social media is a really connector, something for kids to stay in touch with their parents, cousins,” Mr. Webb said.

The Turner executive said the results of the study can help not just the company, but also its partners create content relevant for Filipino children.

“The idea is to ensure we are relevant for the kids, produce content that is relevant for them; to inform our partners, as they’re thinking of content strategies, advertising strategies, what should they be doing that should be relevant for the kids. It’s tough as an adult, especially if you don’t have a kid, to know what the kids are into. This helps,” Mr. Webb said.