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The Future of Free Time: Leisure & Amusement in the Renewed Reality

How will Filipinos unwind, relax and enjoy their free time in the renewed reality? Acumen key insights reveal a struggle between an inclination towards activities tied closer to home and an itch to return to leisure outdoors.

The COVID-19 outbreak in the Philippines has drastically altered the way that Filipinos enjoy their free time. Fear of the virus influenced the way Filipinos behaved socially even before strict quarantine measures were imposed. By mid-March, many Filipinos said that they had already began adopting behaviors that minimized their contact with others, including: [i]

  • 83% of Filipinos avoiding crowded places

  • 60% of Filipinos skipping parties/social gatherings they were invited to

  • 53% of Filipinos reducing visits to bars/cafes/restaurants

Leisure in Lockdown: A Scene at Home

When lockdown measures were enforced, the shift in Filipinos’ leisure behavior solidified as a matter of course. With everyone in quarantined locations confined to their home, amusement and leisure activities we’re translated from how they were outside to how they can be inside. Filipinos, whose top leisure activity in normal periods is eating out, began finding pleasure in experimenting with cooking at home. [ii] With cinemas inaccessible, they ramped up spending on at-home entertainment. [iii] And already family-oriented with the weekends typically spent on family activities like malling and going to church, many Filipino families saw quarantine as an opportunity to further strengthen their bond with their family, increasing the time they spent bonding together. [iv]

Given these shifts in how Filipinos found enjoyed leisure and amusement during quarantine, what can we expect as they transition into the renewed reality? Will the leisure behaviors that Filipinos developed to adjust to life at home stick?

Spare Time in the Renewed Reality: Staying Indoors but Tempted to Go Outside

Data indicates that while, at first, Filipinos were once enthusiastic to venture back outside to public venues (particularly retail stores) as soon as possible, interest in doing so has recently waned. This new apprehension about going back outside is likely influenced by the lengthened quarantine period and Filipinos growing disapproval of how the situation has been handled in the nation, as indicated by their decreasing optimism in the country’s ability to overcome COVID-19. Currently, only 56% of Filipinos are optimistic that the Philippines will overcome this outbreak. [v]

As concern about the mismanagement of the situation grows, Filipinos indicate a desire to stick close to home in the general community quarantine/renewed reality period. Out-of-home leisure is likely to continue to be severely affected with:

  • 54% of Filipinos expecting to eat out at restaurants less often [vi]

  • 51% of Filipinos expecting to eat out at fast food outlets less often [vii]

  • 45% of Filipinos expecting to visit cinemas less often [viii]

  • 43% of Filipinos expecting to visit bars less often [ix]

Instead, Filipinos indicate a desire to continue to center their social and leisure activities at home:

  • 71% of Filipinos expect to maintain or increase their spending on at-home entertainment in the renewed reality [x]

  • 68% of Filipinos expect to continue spending increased time socializing with their family/household [xi]

  • 51% of Filipinos expect to continue spending time cooking at home [xii]

  • 55% of Filipinos expect to continue exercising at home more [xiii]

Qualitatively, however, Acumen’s research uncovers that while Filipino are generally resigned to carry on with leisure at home, they’re currently experiencing an internal struggle as they face heightened feelings of missing their life outdoors. Many, for instance, voice a desire to be able to see and spend time with friends in-person: “I miss going to my friend’s house on the weekend where we share stories most of the time,” shares a single, young adult male, SEC B [xiv]. Filipinos also miss key staples in a Filipino lifestyle, malling and church: “I miss going to malls to pick and to buy my OOTD's…I miss going to church because its different when you actually go to church versus the online worship,” shares a single young adult, Broad C [xv]. When asked about the activities that they plan to prioritize once quarantine lifts, leisure activities like local travel, spa/salon visits, and meeting with relatives take the top spots [xvi].

What it means for businesses

Evidently, the foreseeable future of free time for Filipinos will continue to be an indoor scene set in the home but with an overlay of tension formed by the desire to return outside. In this reality, leisure businesses need to react in varying ways:

  • For leisure businesses that Filipinos are voicing an increasing desire for the return of service and that rely on customer visitation of their physical outlets, like salons and spas, the key challenge to address is innovating how they deliver products and services for Filipinos enjoyment in an environment that also delivers on customer safety and security.

  • For leisure businesses that have found their place in Filipinos’ lifestyle reprioritized, like children’s play centers or leisure/social clubs, the critical task is to redefine how their product or services are positioned to address relevant needs in this period of altered priorities

  • For leisure businesses who have recognized and acted upon a clear point of relevance and path to delivery during this period, like most fitness gyms and entertainment/gaming platforms, the strategic imperative is now to strengthen capabilities and build an organization that’s primed for continued pivots during these uncertain times

Despite the clear challenges today given the shift in Filipinos’ leisure behaviors, there are undeniable opportunities for businesses to innovate, renew and solidify their relevance and roles in Filipinos’ renewed reality lifestyles.


Learn about Acumen Navigate’s solutions for re-connecting with consumers and building brand relevance by visiting this page.

Founded on proprietary research on Filipino consumers and businesses during the COVID pandemic, Acumen Navigate provides a suite of services anchored on a consumer-centric approach, helping businesses make informed bets and take keen action to recover and grow their business in this volatile and uncertain period.


[i] GWI Coronavirus Research | Multi-market research wave 1 (16-20 Mar 2020) [ii] Nielsen Philippines COVID19 Syndicated Tracking Wave 2, (30 Mar – 4 Apr 2020) [iii] McKinsey & Company COVID-19 Philippines Consumer Pulse Survey (17 Apr - 20 Apr 2020) [iv] GWI Coronavirus Research | Multi-market research wave 4 (19-26 May 2020) [v] Ibid. [vi] Ibid. [vii] Ibid. [viii] Ibid. [ix] Ibid. [x] McKinsey & Company COVID-19 Philippines Consumer Pulse Survey (17 Apr - 20 Apr 2020) [xi] GWI Coronavirus Research | Multi-market research wave 4 (19-26 May 2020) [xii] Ibid. [xiii] Ibid. [xiv] Acumen Advancing for Business Recovery Study (Business Stakeholders and Consumer Research), May 2020 [xv] Ibid. [xvi] Ibid.


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