MANILA: There is a mood of uncertainty in the Philippines this year as the political climate, changes in taxation and slow infrastructure development challenge Filipino consumers.

According to senior agency figures in the country, the year ahead is likely to be rocky for marketers as Filipinos deal with growing uncertainty despite continued growth in technology uptake and social media use.

“If 2017 was tough, 2018 will be tougher. This year will not be for the faint of heart. Political, social, economic state – your guess is as good as mine,” said Gino Borromeo, Chief Strategy Officer at McCann Worldgroup Philippines.

(For more on the implications for marketers, read WARC’s trend report: Uncertainty plagues the Philippines in 2018.)

The Duterte administration’s tax overhaul (dubbed TRAIN) is set to boost take home pay for lower income Filipinos, but is offset by higher taxes on petroleum, automobiles, cigarettes, and even sweetened beverages, which will hit the pockets of consumers.

This means that brands will need to work harder to capture their attention in more difficult economic times.

Earl Javier, Effectiveness Director at Ogilvy and Mather Philippines, predicts that these changes will push businesses to compete in terms of relevance.

“[We will see] more focus on the fundamentals of what makes brands and businesses meaningful to people. Less focus on measuring or counting, more focus on understanding impact. Less focus on the means, more focus on the ends,” he said.

“And with new policies like the TRAIN law changing business dynamics, this will become even more crucial.”

Another factor to consider is that a lot of marketing funds were directed to digital in 2017, as internet penetration and mobile connectivity continued to increase.

“This year there has been a lot more confidence in doing digital marketing. The majority of the development has been on the ‘hygiene’ side of digital marketing – format-driven ad placements that drive salience on Facebook, YouTube and Google,” said Peach Natividad, Digital Strategy Director at TBWA\Digital Arts Network.

“However, with the big announcement of Facebook on even more tightening of the leash on publisher and brand content, we could see brands reevaluating their allocation of spend and moving back into building their own platforms,” she added.

“I see this reopening the doors to brand-owned platforms, chat solutions, digital CRM programs and more.”

Sourced from WARC