The COVID-19 pandemic’s economic impact has spared few Filipinos. Most Filipinos have had their sources of income affected, ranging from reduced pay to total job loss. This has led to tightening wallets and focused spending on essentials among Filipino consumers as a whole. However, Acumen’s recent consumer study indicates that there are specific Filipino consumer segments that are continuing to spend on non-essentials to meet their unique needs and motivations. These segments are the Strained Socialites and Caged Explorers.
Strained Socialites deeply value connection and are acutely experiencing the impact of current social restrictions.
Their overall health is strongly tied to their social wellness. Today, because they are faring worse than usual socially, they indicate that they experience ripple effects on their physical, mental, and emotional health.
Their behaviors indicate their inner turmoil in seeking connection. They largely recognize that public venues and social activities are not safe but are actually more likely to participate in activities that involve going outdoors than the average Filipino.
Their spending indicates an affinity for self-care as they work through the tensions in their lives and purchases like home improvement, snacks and alcohol that try to bring socialization into the home.
For Caged Explorers, the greatest losses of this pandemic are missed adventures and the present lack of excitement in life.
They yearn for fresh experiences and greater variety in their day-to-day. Unlike the Strained Socialites, despite their hunger to bring color back to their lives, Caged Explores are sticking close to home and generally avoid venturing outside more than necessary.
This has led to increased spending on distractions within the home like home improvement as they look for activities to mix things up and break up the perceived dullness of their everyday experience.
Between these two discretionary spenders, Strained Socialites are more likely to venture outside and engage in activities out of the home. At significantly higher rates than the average Filipino, Strained Socialites indicate that they are going the mall, riding on planes for travel, going on roadtrips, and dining in restaurants more frequently today than at the onset of the pandemic. Interestingly, Strained Socialites are not more likely than the average Filipino to believe that these activities are safe. In fact, Strained Socialites recognize and indicate that meeting up with family and friends is not safe at all at higher rates than the average Filipino. The mismatch between their stated knowledge and behaviors alludes to the inner, unresolved tension in their lives as they seek connection with others.
In contrast, Caged Adventurers stick closer to home. Like the Strained Socialites, Caged Explorers recognize that most out-of-home activities are not safe. However, they are more likely than the average Filipino to believe that going to malls is safe and this belief mirrors their behavior: they indicate that they are visiting malls more frequently today than at the onset of the pandemic. Whereas Strained Socialites experience tension because of the misalignment between what they know and what they do, Caged Explorers are discontented because they are more strict in adhering their behaviors to their beliefs.
When it comes to purchases for themselves, their home, and their household, both Strained Socialites and Caged Explorers are spending more on non-essentials than the average Filipino consumer. One category that they show a similar increase in spending on is home and work improvements.
For Strained Socialites, their spending in these categories likely results from the increased relevance of the home as a social venue. Whether they are hosting virtual social events or in-person small group gatherings, making the home a more enjoyable space for social connection seems to be an investment that they are making.
For Caged Explorers, their limited trips outdoors have likely increased the relevance of the home as a space for generating excitement and adventure. Spending on home improvement may indicate DIY projects or refreshing the home so that it may be experienced as a new, animating space.
The current lifestyle of Strained Socialites where they are venturing outside more than the average Filipino and have also refitted their home as a social venue has also led to increased spending in other categories. More than the average Filipino consumer, Strained Socialites are also spending more on apparel, skin care, jewelry/accessories, furniture & appliances, and vehicles. Increased spending in these categories indicates that appearances is still highly relevant for this segment even in a world split between in-person and virtual social encounters. Strained Socialites are also spending more than the average Filipino on snacks, ready-to-drink juices, beer, and imported alcohol showing the continued importance they place on entertaining.
On the other hand, Caged Explorers’ cravings for excitement and adventure is reflected by their increased spending on entertainment & subscriptions and ready-made food. Sticking close to home, it appears that this segment is seeking convenient, accessible alternatives to introduce variety and generate thrill in their lives. They expand the boundaries of their experiences within the home through their purchases.
Opportunities and imperatives for businesses
For businesses looking to capture these segments that show a higher propensity for discretionary spending, key considerations include aligning brand and product propositions to address the persisting, unresolved tensions in their lives today or riding on the solutions that they have found for their needs and desires.
For businesses in categories that these segments are spending more on today, the opportunity for further growth lies in innovating products and services to maintain relevance, introduce variety, and drive repeat purchase.
For businesses in categories outside of what these segments are currently spending more on, the challenge is in repositioning products and services to establish relevance and exploring partnerships with categories relevant to this segment to drive business growth.
About the Author Bianca Eyales
BA - Biology; Science & Society graduate from Brown University. Bianca has 3 years of experience specializing in brand strategy, data-driven creative strategy, and corporate planning. Prior to Acumen, Bianca came from the digital marketing field, holding a position at DigitasLBi. In Acumen, Bianca is responsible for collaborating with and supporting senior strategists in Brand Path and Corporate Strategic Planning projects.