By Arjay L. Balinbin, Senior Reporter

MOST Filipinos are willing to pay more for convenience, a Facebook study showed, suggesting that businesses should explore innovative ways to provide convenience to customers as a way to recover from the impact of the public health crisis.

“What convenience seekers are looking for are ways that you as companies can redefine value for them,” John Rubio, country director of Facebook Philippines, said at an online briefing on Tuesday.

He said 90% of Filipinos surveyed considered convenience “almost as important as rice.”

Mr. Rubio presented the results of the Facebook-commissioned “Emerging Trends Research” where 12,500 people (ages 18 to 64) from 14 countries including the Philippines were surveyed last year.

The study analyzed the changes in consumer behavior over the past year to guide badly impacted businesses as they try to recover from the ongoing crisis.

Respondents were asked if they were willing to pay for a product or service that would help them save time. They were also asked if they were willing to pay for a product or service that would free up their minds so they could think about more important things.

In the Philippines, 87% of the respondents said they would pay for products that free up their minds while 93% considered convenience alongside price when deciding what to buy.

Also, 92% of the participants thought social media platforms made life more convenient, with 87% saying social media allowed them to interact more and deepen their relationship with brands.

Respondents in the Philippines were also interested in live shopping. Facebook said 25% of them tried live shopping last year while 85% expected to increase their live shopping this year.

Facebook said marketers should set a new standard in convenience, embrace change as readily as their customers are, harness the power of community to create deeper connections — from Facebook Groups to innovative collaborations, and draw inspiration from the mobile-first and agile innovation of businesses around the world.

Akshat Jain, country lead of Growth Business at Facebook Philippines, presented the 2021 Global State of Small Business Report, which looked at the effects of the pandemic on small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) and how they are pivoting towards the new normal. It reached out to over 36,000 SMB leaders, who are also Facebook users, across 27 countries and territories including the Philippines.

The survey found that 27% of SMBs in the Philippines closed in February while 56% of those that remained operational had reduced the number of their workers.

Almost half or 44% reported a decline in sales in January compared to last year.

“The pandemic led to reduced work forces and SMBs increasing their use of digital tools,” Mr. Jain noted.

He said 55% of global SMBs reported using digital tools to communicate with customers amid the pandemic crisis.

“Small businesses play an important role in pandemic recovery. At Facebook, we remain focused on providing small businesses with resources and tools, so that they could continue to reach and engage their customers, and hopefully accelerate business recovery,” Mr. Jain noted.