The pandemic has led to massive shifts in the way Filipinos discover, buy and consume content. How are marketers responding to shifting consumer behaviour? What is the role of brand loyalty in an age when consumers could switch brands with the tap of a finger? How are marketers changing media mix at a time when everyone is consuming content, discovering and researching new products and making purchases on digital platforms?
All this was discussed at an exclusive virtual roundtable hosted by Campaign Asia and Twitter, featuring senior marketing leaders from the Philippines, and moderated by Robert Sawatzky, editorial director, Campaign Asia.
Challenges during COVID-19
With everything going digital during the pandemic, home connectivity has become an essential across the Philippines, as Barbie Dapul, VP of marketing, broadband, Globe Telecom, notes,
“For the affluent, connectivity has become a lifestyle enabler, allowing them to bring passions and hobbies into the home. For emerging markets, the internet has become one of the tools for survival.”
It’s a sentiment shared by Tickled Media’s VP of Communications Carla Perlas, who observes that 76% of moms have increased their social media consumption during the pandemic.
Patty Henson, consultant with Insular Healthcare, also notes that their members are in a ‘digital mode.’
COVID-19 has had a greater impact on certain businesses.
L’Oreal’s makeup business was initially hit by the pandemic but its skincare brands have enjoyed a boom during the stay-at-home period.
“The pandemic has accelerated the development of e-commerce,” Isabel Falco, marketing director, L’Oreal Philippines, notes. “Prior to the pandemic, e-commerce was where you buy the thing you wanted to buy but can’t in a physical store, but now it has encompassed discovery”
The challenge, of course, is customers expect the same level of service and experience as before. As BPI’s CMO Mary Catherine Elizabeth P. Santamaria (Cathy) says, “Our consumers move to faraway places, but expect services as they would find in a city.”
Aris Geronimo, marketing director of Sanofi Pasteur, speaks on the importance of having a deeper understanding of the audience to provide the right content.
“[Third-party] cookies are going but it doesn’t mean we don’t need to understand our audiences. We work with our partners to identify what our different audiences want - not just their interest but where they’re expressing this interest.”
Why is brand building vital in 2021
An increasingly digital world also means customers now face a plethora of choices. Whereas in the past, one might buy a brand out of loyalty, today’s customers buy for various reasons - from functionality and accessibility to a brand’s purpose.
As people are more open to experimentation, is there still brand loyalty?
Perhaps this is where brand-building comes in, as Chandan Deep, head of emerging business, SEA, Twitter, notes, “What is the role of brand building in creating loyalty during these over-digitalised times?”
Today’s brands must have a deep understanding of your customers - not just what product they want, but also the values they hold dear.
Falco elaborates, “From a brand standpoint, we want to bring something more to our consumers. Consumers are demanding more from brands - they demand authenticity, and that brands stand for something. Whether it is about sustainability, diversity, or women empowerment, or standing up for the LGBT community.
Aside from the need to engage a digital audience, another priority marketers need to contend with is the rising need to market to attribute sales to marketing.
As MediaDonuts’ CEO Pieter-Jan de Kroon puts it, “How do you make sure you are measuring the success of the campaign? How do you report awareness? How do you find balance between awareness and performance?”
Dennis Perez, media director, Unilever Philippines, says a brand building mindset could help performance. For him, performance marketing and brand building shouldn’t be seen as being on opposite ends of the spectrum.
“Every time we create demand, we establish brand power - that could be your conversion in the future. Brands need to collect first party data and intent, which makes your performance marketing easier. We need to see efficiency that can be unlocked when we see these two disciplines come together, and the connector between them is data.”
How to create meaningful content and long-term brand loyalty
The shift in the way people consume and digest content is changing the way marketers speak to their audiences.
For a first, there has been a gravitational pull towards entertainment and streaming services. For a second, the way networks are pushing out shows-often all episodes in a series in one go-means that there is a lot more passion-binging.
As ever-popular TV channel Viu Philippines’ country manager, Ari Ku-Cader is experiencing this first-hand,
“Historically, people will talk about timelines, and the different types of events that happen throughout the year. In the last year, discussions around ‘timelines’ have been around what people are watching, and how they are watching it. People are just consuming so much content.”
These developments have huge implications for the way marketers engage with their consumers.
Whereas traditional marketing ‘always started with traditional TV’, as Perez notes, digital’s penetrative power means marketers now have a lot of choices to bring [effectiveness]. Marketers need to craft meaningful content but also push it out on the right platforms at the right time.
“When people are consuming content based on passions, they do not want to be interrupted by ads. 30-second ad spots of the past don’t work every time anymore. That realisation brought shifts in the way we market, the way we work with partners to create our own content in a way meaningful to our consumers.”
One of Unilever’s most successful brand purpose campaigns is the #freetolove campaign on Twitter, which promoted the idea that everyone should be able to love whoever they want, free from external pressure, judgement and self-doubt.
“We wanted people to take part in the conversation as authentically as possible. That’s why we chose Twitter to launch the campaign, as we know it’s a platform where people can share their thoughts without any apprehension.”
Being authentic also means tying purposeful campaigns back to what your brand stands for.
Allianz PNB recently launched Allianz’s Ride Safe, a campaign which aimed to encourage a cycling culture during the pandemic.
Kenneth Yu, digital brand management head, market management, Allianz PNB Life, says,
“Ride Safe obviously ties in with health and sustainability, which are a big part of Allianz’s focus. We’ve been getting a lot of positive responses, particularly from our younger audiences. If you tie a strong, meaningful purpose to your brand, it will have a positive impact.”