Staff Reporters
Jul 16, 2018

Philippines top mobile-friendly brands

Google, Lazada and Facebook excel, while local financial and payment players like BPI, Globe GCash and PayMaya also get strong mobile marks.

Philippines top mobile-friendly brands

As part of our look at the Philippines' top brands of 2018, which is part of our Asia's Top 1000 Brands report, we found that Filipino consumers see Google, Samsung, Lazada and Apple as the top mobile-friendly brands, with Facebook, Nike, BPI, GlobeGCash and Paymaya also rating highly. Then we asked three in-market observers for their insights.

The top 20 mobile-friendly brands

  Philippines APAC
1 Google Apple
2 Samsung Google
3 Lazada Samsung
4 Apple Amazon
5 Facebook Lazada
6 Sony Sony
7 Amazon LG
8 Bank of Philippine Islands Facebook      
9 Nike Yahoo
10 Yahoo Nike
11 YouTube Asus
12 Shopee Naver
13 Asus YouTube
14 Huawei Xiaomi
15 Globe GCash Huawei
16 Paypal Oppo
17 LG Taobao
18 Nestle Adidas
19 Nokia Panasonic
20 PayMaya HTC

Bank of Philippine Islands was voted the most mobile-friendly local brand. Do you agree? If so, what are they doing right?

Pauline Fermin, managing director, Acumen Strategic Consulting: BPI had historically been the pioneer in harnessing technology to transform the previously cumbersome banking experience to one that is convenient and seamless. They were trailblazers in having automated teller machines, in online banking, and in mobile banking – thus outpacing other local banks. They optimized the customer experience through their wholehearted embrace of technology. Like Jollibee, BPI also has a good pulse of their consumers’ needs and they effectively use simple, unintimidating language in their communications – which is key for the financial industry.   

Arthur Policarpio, CEO, Mobext Philippines: I’m a BPI client so I use their mobile app. I know their mobile experience and I’m pretty happy with it – it does what it’s supposed to do but I could argue that the other banking apps also do this. It might be that by sheer market penetration that a lot of people use it.

Among ecommerce brands, Lazada and Shopee rank higher in Philippines than the Asian average, but Amazon lower. What might be behind that?

Juan Manuel De Borja, strategic planning director,Campaigns & Grey Philippines: The Philippines has some way to go in terms of logistics and credit card penetration. What Lazada and Shopee have done is to offer ecommerce with mechanics that recognize these limitations. So for example in the case of Lazada doing some shipping out of Philippine-based warehouses (bypassing issues in customs and international shipping), and accepting mutiple payment options outside of credit cards (cash-on-delivery, bank deposit).

In terms of look and feel, both are more attuned to Filipino sensibilities than say an Amazon: louder, more going energetic, lots going on. Filipinos don’t like empty space. If you go to a broad-market mall in the Philippines, or the main street of any town, you’ll see a lot of colors and elements. This extends to sound too and we love music - in the provinces establishments often have loudspeakers facing the street turned up at full volume. What some westerners might think of as ‘busy’. But for us that is vibrant and alive. Shopee in particular has to some extent translated that into the digital space with bright colors, in-your–face deals and a huge assortment showcased upfront.

Policarpio: I think it’s principally about local distribution. Lazada and Shopee are invested in the local scene in logistics. By sheer location, Amazon’s products come from afar and that affects the pricing as well. With ecommerce I really believe that distribution is one of main keys to success.  How fast and efficient can you deliver a product factors in the local space.

Fermin: Hard to comment on what the other Asian countries – as an average – are doing or not doing vis-à-vis the Philippines.  I could only comment that online shopping has been growing in the Philippines due to several factors:  worsening traffic which discourages physical shopping, increasing penetration of smartphones which allow for online shopping apps, and rise of entrepreneurship.  These 2 brands Lazada and Shopee are the 2 brands have established their presence in the Philippines behind affordable and a wide variety of merchandise.

Local epayment services GlobeGCash and PayMaya were both in the top 20 mobile-friendliest brands. But Paypal also ranked much higher than the rest of Asia. What’s most critical for epayment brands to thrive in the Philippines?

Policarpio: These two payment solutions are tied to telcos Globe and Smart who are pushing these aggressively in terms of merchant acquisition and advertising.  Their adoption rates have been growing a lot.  Merchant acquisition is critical for where I can use these payment solutions.  What products and services can I buy?  Can I use them for groceries and a haircut? That’s what GCash and PayMaya have really been focusing on lately, getting more retailers and brands to accept use. I have to be able to use them across everything that I do.  If not, then it’s just an option – a ‘nice to have’ and the ubiquity is not yet at the level of cash or of a credit card. That really has to be addressed first.

De Borja: The financial services category by nature implies something stiff and formal - qualities that are alien to the Filipino psyche. GCash and PayMaya both leverage on widespread use and comfort with mobile to bring financial services to a population that’s largely unbanked. What they’ve done align branding their branding and communications with their offer so that they feel friendly, easy, and light.

Fermin: I think they have to ensure that the entire mobile customer experience – register, load money, use – is easy, convenient and efficient.  This means that the backroom engine (network, security, etc) must be solid and airtight in order that there are no glitches in the experience.  Wide acceptance is also a crucial factor, in order that consumers see the relevance of these services. And because we are dealing with money, building a trustworthy imagery is also critical.

Google and Facebook ranked higher in Philippines on mobile-friendliness, Yahoo slightly lower. Which social media platforms can really make or break brands in the Philippines? 

Policarpio: The Philippines is undisputedly a Facebook market. Facebook absolutely dominates the local social scene. We’re one of the highest in the world in terms of Facebook penetration.  In terms of usage I think we’re also number one in terms of hours spent.  Filipinos spend three hours a day on Facebook – and this includes Facebook, Messenger and Instagram, so those are the dominant platforms from a point of view here.  For a brand, Facebook is the place from a social point of view – it’s not even close. 

De Borja: Filipinos are collective by nature, making Facebook critical. To feel you are part of a group is essential, and Facebook brings the ability to feel that you ‘belong’ to extremes. When the current president was just another candidate and a mayor in a city far from the capital, his on-the-ground popularity was largely limited to the far south. His popularity grew in the virtual space and that online community was converted into real-world action and votes. The social media team of President Duterte has talked about organizing their social media presence by groups for maximum effect covering key geographies/interests and Facebook has been widely credited for playing  a key role in catapulting him into the presidency.  

Fermin: The top social media platforms in the Philippines are the same as the rest of the world:  Facebook, Twitter, Instagram – albeit we Filipinos spend significantly more time on social media vs the world average. We cannot, however generalise which social media platform can make or break brands – it really depends on the brand and who it is they are targeting.  Some brands find that social media is not one of the touchpoints for their target market and thus, any media investment there will be a waste of money. 

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