Now is a good time to look back as the country eases its lockdowns somewhat. Barring a second wave of coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) infections that could prompt a stricter community quarantine, we can step back and see how we managed the last eight weeks or so under enhanced community quarantine vis-a-vis our daily routines, habits and even work arrangements.
We have definitely seen an accelerated increase in the availment of digital capabilities, so much so that work-from-home arrangements made employees and business owners busier than usual because of the flexibility they bring. It means we do not necessarily stop working at 5 p.m., and that work could now actually continue without any time limit.
Given that we have been all cooped up at home during the enhanced quarantine, it is also important to realize that most of the activities we used to do in person have shifted online. An example of this would be retail shopping, or even shopping in general: groceries, health stores and the like have quickly transitioned to the new reality or complemented their business with online capabilities to enable their customers to buy at their own pace and time while at home.
The use of digital is here to stay, especially when we expect to see an exponential increase in the use of online platforms to support our day-to-day activities. To put more meat into this, three drivers affect this trend: advertising spending; our population; and our behavior.
A report on statista.com shows that the digital advertising expenditure’s share of total media spending in the Philippines from 2015 to 2020 has been steadily increasing, with a reported projected spending of approximately 25 percent for this year. We predict a spike in this number, given that we had, more or less, a quarter of the year under lockdown — and, most likely, online. This shows that companies would continue to increase their spending on digital advertising, as most people are expected to have quick access to their smartphones.
Second, our population — one of the largest in the region — is composed of young people, who are driving this shift to digital. The Generation X, Generation Z and millennial segments make up the almost 76 million Filipinos who are active on social media. This number represents a very high percentage of our population that are already online. This is almost aligned with the internet penetration rate the country has.
And last, our behavior. Filipinos spend most of the time online, according to a 2019 We are Global and Hootsuite study. Essentially, the amount of time we spend online is 9 hours and 29 minutes, which, to be honest, is basically an entire working day. Imagine the business possibilities offered, and that is why the lockdown triggered all things digital: how we order and have our food delivered; how we consume content, especially movies and television series, Korean dramas, and the like; and how we conduct business (webinars, online learning), among others. As the days go by, we will see how our activities would require or even depend on digital capabilities.
The case to deliver content digitally is getting stronger. It is not only convenient, but access to consume content varies on customer preferences. One customer may prefer to consume your content via Facebook, while another may prefer to access it via YouTube. In any case, digital capabilities provide the flexibility needed to cater to your customer’s preferences. Retail, for example, has Instagram or Facebook to promote their content, such as food or goods. In terms of reach, it is already known that 70 percent of the population are already on digital. In fact, Facebook is rolling out another product, called Facebook Shops, to cater to individuals and retail businesses that aim to use digital in promoting their goods and services.
Whether your business is in retail, movie and TV production, food and beverage, and other similar industries, it is imperative to maximize the power of digital and the reach that you can exponentially achieve. The pivot to this transformation may be unknowingly triggered by the ongoing pandemic, but this opportunity has been available way before. Now is a good time to plan long-term with this in mind. Of course, the necessary planning, upskilling and training of your workforce would also be imperative. But essentially, better late than never.
Kay Calpo Lugtu is the chief operating officer of Hungry Workhorse, a digital and culture transformation firm. Her advocacies include nation-building, education and financial literacy. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.