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Digital spending went up 60% for every person in the past year, according to the third iteration of SYNC Southeast Asia, an annual report by Facebook and management consulting firm Bain & Company.  

Titled Southeast Asia, the home for digital transformation, the report takes a look at emerging digital lifestyle trends in the region.  

In this B-Side episode, Facebook Philippines country director John Rubio shares the stories behind the statistics. He tells BusinessWorld reporter H. Lacsamana how retailers can take their business offline-to-online with the help of 6 Rs. 


The consumer journey is mostly digital.  

Filipinos, who spend as much as 10 to 11 hours online, are able to translate their time to e-commerce activity, whether it’s discovering brands and products, considering whether to buy them based on research, or actually making purchases, according to Mr. Rubio.  

This entire consumer journey now happens online — the study shows that the discovery and consideration phases now occur 80% and 83% online respectively.   

“Before, for example, you’d be walking in the mall and maybe you’d hit a makeup stand and you’d say ‘yeah, I like that’ and try it out,” he explained. “What’s happened is a massive shift where that now happens online.”  

To win the battle for brand loyalty, have a robust online presence. 

A major concern for brands is that consumers are now more likely to switch, with 51% more Filipinos saying they switched their most-purchased brand in the last 3 months.   

“What that really means for brands is they need to understand the customer journey we talked about and say, if discovery is now happening on digital, it’s happening on my Facebook or Instagram feed. It’s happening on Facebook Live. It’s happening on YouTube. It’s happening on TikTok,” said Mr. Rubio. “How do they leverage that?”  

He recommended brands think about whether their website or social media pages provide enough details for potential customers.   

Another factor is sustainability, for which around 80% of Filipinos said they would pay up to 10% more: “A lot of people now are very attuned to purpose. They want to buy some brands that are, for example, sustainable [and] adhere to the same social principles as they do, especially as we go to the younger segments.”  

The convenience of e-wallets helped spur e-commerce.  

With Filipinos purchasing 8.2 product categories in 2021 compared to just 4.7 in 2020, the convenience of payment modes has become important as well.   

“People find the utmost convenience of being able to have a digital e-wallet and being able to pay online, whether to pay for Grab, Lazada, Shopee, Zalora, and so forth,” said Mr. Rubio. “It’s much more convenient to do that. You can even shop at midnight.”  

Outside of the pandemic, the massive adoption of e-wallets drove e-commerce — the report found that 1 in 3 people now prefer to pay with an e-wallet.  

Six Rs can help brands go from offline to online.  

Majority of respondents (65-80% across markets) said their digital purchasing behavior may stick even after the pandemic.  

In order for businesses to evolve with their consumers, Mr. Rubio suggested building a good offline-to-online (O2O) strategy with the help of 6 Rs:  

  1. Rewrite a digital first agenda.  
  2. Rewire your business model.  
  3. Reimagine your consumer engagement.  
  4. Refresh your product offers.  
  5. Re-envision your view of sustainability.  
  6. Realign a post-pandemic lifestyle.  

“We need to make sure we’re experimenting so that we’re not one of those that are left out in a post-COVID world,” he said.  

Recorded remotely on Sept. 14. Produced by Paolo L. Lopez and Sam L. Marcelo.

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