Smartphones: Filipinos’ default mobile deviceBy Vanessa B. Hidalgo
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines—Here’s a true story: A man stuck in traffic realized he forgot his wallet at home. He shrugged off the idea of going back for it. Then he realized he had also left his cell phone. That was reason enough for him to make a bold attempt to turn around and retrieve the phone he had left behind.
Third on JWT Manila’s 2013 list of consumer trends is the mobile fingerprint—a testament on how a billion people have grown attached to their mobile companions.
The mobile phone is no longer just for calls and texts. Smartphones have revolutionized the mobile industry by transforming these gadgets into wallets, keys, health consultants and more.
“Smartphones are fast becoming the default mobile phone. At an all-time high, smartphone sales in the Philippines increased almost five times the volume sales in 2011, valued at $606.5 million,” the JWT report says.
The telecommunications industry has responded to this development by improving infrastructure that will lead to faster and cheaper data transmission.
Globe and Smart have rolled out 4G LTE networks in the country recently to facilitate faster Internet speed, thus, improving connectivity.
“Many consumers see their mobile phones as uniquely reflective of themselves. It becomes a ‘mini-me’ or private diary,” says the report.
In the United States, Google Wallet was launched in 2011 and, since then, it had forged partnerships with 25 US retailers and some major credit card brands.
The report explains that Google Wallet users type in credit or debit card details to the app. They can then pay for their purchases in select stores by tapping their smartphone to a payment terminal.
Here in the Philippines, we already have our own versions—Smart’s “Tap2Pay” and Bank of the Philippine Island’s BPI Wallet.
Apart from enabling consumers to easily pay for their purchases, most smartphones have also now become mobile health consultants. Sanofi-Adventis’ iBGStar, an ‘app-cessory’ roughly the size of an AA battery can be hooked up with smartphones, allowing users to track and analyze their blood glucose.
But the report points out that the trend hasn’t caught on in the local setting. Thus, retailers, handset manufacturers, telcos, software developers and other marketers must consider how to best take advantage of the increasing intimate connection between consumers and their phones.
Then, there is the increasing shift from shopping in physical stores to online shops that plays out in multiple and new platforms. At No. 7 on the list is the rise of global mobile purchases where “everything is retail.”
“An increasing percentage of global purchasing power is in the hands of people who can occupy two different shopping environments simultaneously,” notes Kantar’s Bryan Gildenberg.
An example of this is Tesco Home Plus’ shoppable wall. This wall is located at a subway station in Seoul. A consumer in South Korea may scan QR (quick response codes that can be read by mobile phones with cameras and smartphones) coded items and pay with his or her smartphone. The item will then be delivered at about the same time the consumer gets back home.
“Another example to watch out for is shoppable social media via Facebook’s push into e-commerce with Collection and Gifts,” the report says. It is a feature that lets users click a “want” button when they see products they like, “creating a wish list of items that friends can click to purchase.”
Advertisers are now utilizing this new-found retail platform by adding QR codes to their ads. Procter & Gamble has started adding QR codes to magazine ads featuring P&G products. Printed on the ad is the question: “Have you tried this yet?”
The report explains that the retail trends have turned surprising spaces into avenues of retail spaces.
Examples are shoppable soap operas, mobile charging stations with products for browsing or selling, the rise of idle space such as parking lots or gardens turned into night bazaars or food truck centers, mobile fast-food buses and the increasing presence of pop-up stores.
The smartphone revolution goes hand in hand with discoveries of new avenues to sell products, thus, giving consumers a wider array of choices and expanding the means to acquire them.
A local example is sulit.com.ph where users can surf and buy and sell. Sulit.com.ph is reported to have an average of 10,000 ads per day.
The final item on the trends list is health and happiness. The report points out that happiness is seen as a core component of health and wellness.
It builds on the notion that a happy person is a healthy person. In turn, a healthy person is a happy person.
According to Elvie Estavillo, certified laughter yoga guru of the Philippines, apart from physical health, happiness and positivism are also linked to mental health.
“What your mind thinks, your body translates,” Estavillo says.
Governments around the world are gradually seeing the benefits of happiness to health. By launching happiness indices, the governments recognize that quantifying a society’s happiness may be as important as measuring economic growth.
In a survey by news site “Gallup,” the Philippines ranked the 8th-happiest country in the world with 82 percent of respondents saying that they are happy.
Also, most Filipinos believe in the idea that laughter is the best medicine. Even in the face of last year’s devastating storm, Pinoys continued to send funny tweets and memes to lighten up the somber mood.
According to a survey conducted by the National Statistical Coordination Board, health is among the top three sources of happiness for Filipinos. The study points out that, as long as there is food on the table and that no one in the family is suffering from life-threatening ailments, then all is well and good for them.
Finally, brands in 2013 have an opportunity to explore consumers’ growing desire to be happy and healthy by demonstrating “how they can become catalysts for healthy, happy lifestyles.”
The report explains that it will be better for marketers to show how their products or service offer sustainable solutions rather than position their brands as providers of quick hits of happiness.
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