Daily conversations of Filipinos on social media on the novel coronavirus disease or COVID-19 significantly spiked after the community quarantine was implemented in Metro Manila and then in Luzon. According to Kantar, the world’s leading data, insights and consulting company, they captured a daily average of 125,000 mentions of COVID-19 between March 12-15, 2020, as people sought to know more details about the “lockdown” imposed by the Philippine government.

This number went down to about 84,000 daily mentions from March 16-21, 2020 during which the Philippine government expanded the community quarantine to cover the entire Luzon. Mentions captured during this week were characterized by a slightly more positive tone of support for both government and private sector based on their efforts to stem the spread of the virus.

Need for news and information

Kantar noted higher TV viewing levels as millions of Filipinos practice isolation in their homes and social distancing when stepping out. This is particularly evident during weekdays, with a 25% surge in viewership during the quarantine period. Kantar also saw an increase of more than three million viewers who were glued to their TV screens during March 15-21, 2020.

Moreover, Filipinos looked forward to breaking news about the COVID-19 situation in the country. Kantar registered 24 million viewers during President Rodrigo Duterte’s press conference on the announcement of the enhanced community quarantine in Metro Manila on March 12, 2020. This increased by 7 million more viewers (31 million viewers) when the President made a follow-up announcement on March 16, 2020.

According to Kantar, this growth in viewership underscores the role of TV in disseminating information to Filipino homes in a timely manner during crisis. At the same time, pieces of information about COVID-19 from news reports were posted on social media as shareable content.

Need for financial security and empathy

In its COVID-19 Global Barometer study, Kantar looked at the top concerns of consumers across Asia, including the Philippines, from February 2020 to March 2020. Based on their data, Kantar found that 42% of Filipinos were worried about falling sick due to COVID-19. Meanwhile, 29% of Filipino respondents said they were concerned about running out of essentials, ending up making ‘panic purchases’ in the process. However, an even higher number of Filipinos, at 58%, felt that the current health situation demands for them to be more proactive about financial planning and security. This resonated with the rest of consumers in Singapore, Indonesia, Korea, Japan and Thailand, wherein 60% of respondents were admittedly anxious about their financial security in the future.

Need for essential hygiene and overall well-being

Even before the March 17, 2020 effectivity of the enhanced community quarantine in Luzon, Filipino consumers have begun stocking up on very specific hygiene and cleaning products for their households. Based on data from 3,000 homes that Kantar monitors across the Philippines, Filipinos increased their purchase of rubbing alcohol by 124% in February 2020 versus the same period a year ago. This was followed by other household products such as scouring pads (65%), dishwashing products (23%), laundry powder (20%), bar bath soaps (15%) and bleach (11%).

According to Lourdes Deocareza-Lozano, Business Development Director at Kantar Philippines, categories geared towards health and hygiene such as home cleaning and personal hygiene, as well as health and nutrition items like fruits and vegetables, will most likely be purchased more in March when we see the full impact of the crisis.

“Filipinos look to the promise of health and well-being when choosing which brands and products they will purchase, especially at a time like this. They want brands that are safe to use and of high quality. Thus, it is crucial for FMCG brands to deliver on these aspects especially during these tough times,” she added.

During a crisis such as that of COVID-19, Filipinos welcome the comfort of familiar and trusted brands. However, Kantar noted that consumers also expect companies to go beyond offering their products and services and do more to help out during this challenging time.

“Especially during a time of crisis, brands must be able to bridge the gap and reassure consumers of their presence. They need to be creative in effectively and affectively showcasing Filipino values that remind consumers of their support and ‘malasakit’ when the challenge becomes too difficult to bear. As consumers are also faced with limited purchase options, it is even more important to discover meaningful and innovative touchpoints to deliver on a seamless shopping journey toward building brand love and loyalty,” said Gary de Ocampo, Chief Executive Officer, Insights Division at Kantar.

About Kantar

Kantar is the world’s leading data, insights and consulting company. We understand more about how people think, feel, shop, share, vote and view than anyone else. Combining our expertise in human understanding with advanced technologies, Kantar’s 30,000 people help the world’s leading organisations succeed and grow.

For further information, please visit us at www.kantar.com

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