The Philippines regularly tops global social media rankings, but that heavy, and mostly mobile, social media use has obscured just how far behind the country is in other areas, such as broadband infrastructure, e-commerce and digital payments.

In a new WARC Spotlight series that looks at the Philippines, Bea Atienza, chief strategy officer at Dentsu Aegis Network, contrasts the increased internet penetration since the COVID-19 lockdown began seven months ago with the difficulties Filipinos are having coping with the technology-driven shifts brought about by the pandemic.

At 79%, internet penetration is at an all-time high, but mobile is the main access point and most of the population is on prepaid subscriptions.

At the same time, slow internet speeds and very limited broadband access are among the infrastructure challenges that have kept Filipinos from expanding their internet usage from social media into diversified services and applications, many of which have become vital to day-to-day life during the pandemic.

Those issues will require a systemic response led by the public sector and will take a long time to fully solve, Atienza notes, but many Filipinos are in need now. “This is a tremendous opportunity for brands to support the consumers whose hearts we claim to want to win.”

More brands are now exploring purpose platforms that leverage their proposition or emotional territory to uplift consumer groups or communities, she reports. “This is in line with a new priority that we could call brand bayanihan, where brands help to address the urgent needs of local communities.”

Atienza highlights the requirements of two groups in particular: students’ digital education has been hampered by poor infrastructure, while jobless adults (unemployment is at 40%) can be digitally upskilled.

“Telco and technology brands seem to be the most active in supporting these two groups, but there is no reason it should stop here,” she states. “There are many more categories that would have a strong ‘right to participate’ and strong potential level of ownership.

For more details on what brands can do, read Bea Atienza’s article in full: Brand Bayanihan: The digital gap that brands can help Filipinos address during COVID-19.

This article is part of a Spotlight series on how brands can better connect with communities in the Philippines. Read more here

Sourced from WARC