COVID-19 and the economic and societal impact it has had on the Philippines has shifted consumer perceptions and behavior. Understanding these shifts and consumer trends are imperative to business survival and growth.
The most relevant themes that drive value to the Filipino consumer today are safety and survival. These are evidenced by the shift in consumer behavior towards the purchase of basic necessities, increased at-home spending, along with major concerns on health and wellness.
The perception of safety has brought about 3 types of economies
Safety nowadays, is grounded on the perceived health risks associated with different spending occasions. While perceived risks may vary across the different consumer segments, both ends of the spectrum of safety serve as their common ground. In the spectrum, consumption done within the confines of one’s home is considered safe, while consumption done in public places is considered unsafe. In this respect, three different opportunity spaces arise: the home-based economy, the public economy, and the bubble economy.
The HOME-BASED economy is a space that demands distinguishing one’s brand
The home-based economy is reliant on getting deliveries and at-home services. This market, which had been struggling pre-pandemic, has experienced a significant rebound and has accelerated in terms of growth. In fact, studies prove that the demand for courier services has greatly increased since the early onslaught of the pandemic, mainly due to the limitations provided by current health protocols.
While ripe with opportunity, this space is crowded with competition—making it critical for brands to drive relevance, differentiation, and credibility in order to grab a share of this space. Revisiting your brand proposition while leveraging on the consumer trends that have emerged will be advantageous in the fight for brand relevance.
Learn more about the prevalent Filipino Consumer Trends in 2021
The PUBLIC economy is a space that necessitates innovation and pivoting
The public economy includes out-of-home spending and travelling. Within it, consumers go to different places such as malls, offices, and schools in order to work, buy goods, and avail of services—increasing the risk of infection.
Before the pandemic, this market was at a stage of growth marked by increasing demand and consumer consumption. However, the prolonged lockdowns and restrictions have triggered a number of businesses closures and demand shocks. With this in mind, businesses working purely under the public economy have to create new and innovative ways to play in the other two spaces. Notable examples of this pivot from public to home-based economy include:
Public Services at Home
Some businesses in the public economy have transformed their products and services into ones that can be delivered and consumed at home.
Portable at-home gyms
Ready-to-cook food products from restaurants
Shift to Online and Digital
Some businesses have transformed their products and services into ones that can be consumed digitally or online—allowing them to participate in the Home-based economy.
The digitization of breakout and escape rooms
The emergence of online and interactive theaters
Digital healthcare and teleconsultations
Retailers shifting to e-commerce
Collaborative online music production apps
The use of augmented reality and virtual reality to enable customers to interact with products before purchase
Utilization of virtual reality to train healthcare professionals
Limiting Contact & Exposure
Businesses have also been determined to decrease perceived risks to encourage consumers to participate in the public economy.
Retailers now offer curbside pick-up of orders
Outdoor dining, greenhouse dining, and the use of dining pods
Capacity restrictions and Supermarket traffic light systems to ensure social distancing and to limit the number of shoppers within the store
Strict implementation of social distancing, and of wearing face masks and/or face shields
The use of tents for hybrid schooling and extra-curricular activities
Robots performing in-patient care such as taking temperatures and delivering food
Delivering medical supplies and equipment by using drones
Consumers will also likely perceive a place of business to be safe if it is evident that disinfection is done frequently. In fact, some businesses have disinfection booths for customers to step in before entering the location.
The BUBBLE economy is a relatively new space that opens up new opportunities
The third economy—the bubble economy—is a unique and interesting space that emerged in light of the pandemic. This space includes exclusive rendezvous with friends and family, and the simple act of grocery shopping. In it, individuals gather and interact within a space for a limited period of time, all the while observing social distancing and other health protocols.
The bubble economy exists as a hybrid between the home-based and the public economy. Despite being new, it has a lot of potential for growth. As such, it is advisable for businesses—especially those still fully serving out-of-home consumers—to determine new opportunities that they can capitalize on in order to participate in the bubble economy.
Some examples of some strategies adopted under the bubble economy include:
Temporal Spaces and Community-based selling Companies have utilized temporality in order to ensure safety as consumers are able to enter and make use of a space for a limited period of time—decreasing the risk of exposure to the virus while allowing them to experience novel services. They have also moved "closer to home" making their products and services available in areas that are closer to the vicinity of their customers.
Bubble Retail appointments where a space is only open to a specific set of customers for a period of time
Bubble vacations for hotels and resorts
Van-renting services that act as mobile hotels
Pop-up offices and stores stores
Mobile service centers
Food trucks for mainstream QSRs
Reviewing the portfolio will help insulate from volatility and emerge growth opportunities
Given these three spaces and the continued volatility of the market, businesses must ensure that their portfolio fits this new landscape. To do this, business and brand owners can start by answering these questions:
If your business is still 100% out-of-home, how do you pivot to play in these two other spaces?
How can you decrease the perceived risk associated with businesses within the public economy so that more and more consumers participate here?
What new opportunities and innovative ideas can you capitalize on to participate in the bubble economy?
About the Author Anny Oliveros
Anny Oliveros heads Acumen's Knowledge and Intellectual Property Development Center. She is a certified Agile practitioner and has had over 15 years of experience in Business, Strategic Planning, Marketing, Sales and Capability Building both locally and in South East Asia building global and local brands.