By Annelle Tayao-Juego
This article was first published in the Philippine Daily Inquirer, December 16, 2018.
Zero poverty, quality education, and good health and well-being are the three social issues that Filipinos care most about—and they expect brands to become more involved in addressing these issues, too.
This is one of the key findings of “Purpose In Asia,” a report published recently by global market research company Kantar, which looks at the role brands play in issues that matter highly to their Asian consumers. The study also looks at the impact of brand purpose and authenticity on business.
Through an online survey conducted by digital data collection company Lightspeed, the research gathered insights from more than 3,000 respondents over the age of 18 in nine markets: Australia, India, Indonesia, Korea, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Taiwan.
To ensure alignment on the definition of social issues, the study used the framework of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. Social media analysis was also conducted.
The research shows that 90 percent of the region—and 97 percent of Filipinos—favor brands that are engaged in social issues, provided that these are causes that they care personally about.
While climate change and gender are the two topics that dominate global media, Kantar’s findings show that in Asia, the issues that matter are those that are closer to home.
Here in the Philippines, people are concerned about eradicating poverty; their health and well-being (especially with vaccination scares surrounding dengue); and quality education, as it is “seen as a stepping stone out of poverty (similar to other developing markets such as India, Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand).
The study adds that brand engagement with such issues will result in better business, as almost 80 percent of Filipinos surveyed said they would buy brands aligned with their views, while over 70 percent said they would be happy to pay “a little more” for brands with sustainability credentials.
For the majority of respondents across the region, TV still reigned as the king of information dissemination on different issues.
However, when it comes to facilitating active participation among consumes, social media is the rising star—66 percent of Filipino respondents said they had liked posts on social media around an issue they cared about; 63 percent said they had shared a post or an article.
Facebook, unsurprisingly, is the favored social media site of the majority of respondents across the region (85 percent).
The study classifies those surveyed into four personalities based on how they interact with issues online: 1) Not Involved (43 percent), or those who are less likely to take any issues-based action and interact on social media (usually 45 years and older, and come from developed markets such as Australia, Singapore and Korea); 2) Direct Action (12 percent), those who are most likely to do something about issues that concern them both offline and online (Gen Z-ers, millennials under 34; emerging markets such as India); 3) Social Media Follower (18 percent; slightly higher in the Philippines at 25 percent), those highly active on social media, but less so offline, and are less likely to change their behavior based on something they’ve read about an issue (across all ages); and 4) Campaigner (27 percent), those who actively share their views on issues across different social platforms and expect brands to do so, too (younger market; more in Thailand and the Philippines compared to other countries).
Given such insights, the report says brands can take these five courses of action: educate consumers about their issues of concern; initiate and fund programs surrounding these issues; fund organizations directly involved in these issues; run campaigns to raise awareness; and change business practices to support these issues.
“Brands have understood the power of purpose for a number of years now. However, the challenge lies in identifying what resonates across the diverse landscape of Asia, and then engaging in an authentic way,” says Joy Lee, regional digital consultant for Kantar’s Insights Division.
“Brands now have permission to get involved and make a difference. The good news is that this isn’t necessarily about making a lot of noise on the global stage. It can also be about supporting local initiatives and driving small but meaningful change where it matters most to people,” Lee adds.