Earlier this month, Shopee launched Shopee for Men in the Philippines, an in-app store offering male-oriented products in various categories, ranging from Electronics and Sports to Fashion and Personal Care.

Figure 1: Landing page for Shopee for Men in the Philippines; Shopee Philippines

Similar to the strategy adopted for the main platform, Shopee for Men offers big discounts to attract the male audience. By leveraging its partnership with brands for ShopeeMall, the platform curates the selected products of numerous leading brands favored by the male population such as Asus, Xiaomi, Bosch, and Spalding. The platform also offered limited sales of the newly released iPhone XS during its promotional period.  

Why did Shopee launch its Men platform in the Philippines?

The Philippines is the third market where Shopee launched its dedicated platform for Men, after the previous launch in Indonesia and Thailand, and it’s not without reason.

The country has a slightly higher male population (53.8 million) than female (52.8 million), and the Filipino male population is forecast to rise over the years steadily. Moreover, most of the Philippines’ population belong the younger generations of millennials and gen-Z. These generations are more likely to be digital-savvy, have higher purchasing power, and more willingness to spend money. In short, the driver of ecommerce growth in the Philippines.

Figure 2: There are more male than female in the Philippines; PopulationPyramid.net

A report from Paypal and Ipsos already forecasts the country’s online spending to increase by 32% in 2018 to $2.2 billion (PHP 121. 9 billion) from $1.7 billion (PHP 92.5 billion) in 2017.

However, online shoppers in the Philippines are still predominantly female, presenting a mostly untapped male audience with stronger purchase power, as found in our latest e-marketplace survey.

Figure 3: Male online shoppers in the Philippines are more likely to spend more per online purchase; ecommerceIQ E-Marketplace Survey Philippines 2018

What do Filipino male consumers usually buy online?

OLX Data Hub found that Filipino male consumers like to shop online for items in categories like furniture, sports, health items, and surprisingly baby-related goods. Millennial men primarily are the driver of this growth.

Figure 4: The top three categories with the highest growth in 2016; OLX Data Hub

Shopee’s Head of Commercial Business Macy Castillo confirms this finding as they discovered men aged 25-30 years old mainly buy wellness, hobbies, and sporting goods. However, they also found that the top purchases among age groups differ.

The 20-24-year-olds group tends to buy more fashion items. This group also shops online more often than other age groups, despite their lower purchasing power since they’re either university students or first-time job seekers.

Meanwhile, skincare and baby & children products are more popular among the 31-35-year-olds group, of whom are more likely to have a family and already in the working force, giving them a higher purchasing ability to buy items that are more costly like wellness and children goods.

Figure 5: Most Filipino men marry at ages 25-29; Philippine Statistics Authority

What’s the most popular online platform for Filipino men?

Generally speaking, Lazada is the most popular B2C e-marketplace preferred by most Filipinos, followed by Shopee and Zalora in the second and third rank, respectively.

Figure 6: Number of visitors to Philippines’ B2C ecommerce platforms in October 2018; SimilarWeb, ecommerceIQ

Women make up for the majority of online shoppers in the Philippines, and it can be seen in these sites’ demographic as well. As such, there are more products available on the site for women than men online.

Figure 7: Lazada, Shopee, and Zalora’s visitors are mainly composed of Filipino women; Alexa

For example, a simple search of “men” in Lazada will give you around 4 million items whereas “women” will display almost triple the number (11.8 million) — showing the disparity in the number of goods available for different genders. A similar search on Shopee will also show the same result, depicting high opportunity for ecommerce companies to appeal to the Filipino male consumers.

Figure 8: Search results on Shopee for “Men” and “Women” on 15 October 2018; Shopee Philippines

According to the same Paypal report, the top two reasons to shop online for Filipino consumers are convenience (82%) and the availability of multiple platforms (52%). By presenting male consumers the same convenience to compare hundreds of similar items within minutes and providing more products for them, we can expect to see a rising influx of Filipino male consumers on these platforms in the coming years.

How can ecommerce websites attract more male shoppers?

Having a website or a dedicated landing page solely for male shoppers is a step in the right direction as it allows them to save time from having to comb through products mainly positioned for females and lets them start shopping immediately.

Although in general men and women shoppers value the same characteristics from online shopping platforms, our survey found the subtle differences that e-marketplaces can use to take advantage of in attracting the male segment.

One of the most important values for male shoppers is site reputation, as they’re less likely to browse through multiple sites everytime they’re doing their shopping. By offering an overall good shopping experience and providing additional values such as same-day delivery, a better mobile app, and easy return policy, e-marketplace have higher chance to convert them to be loyal shoppers.

Figure 9: Comparison of the importance of ecommerce characteristics between men and women; ecommerceIQ E-Marketplace Survey Philippines 2018

Compared to women, men tend to shop less frequently online. But many of them are more willing to shop in full price retailers and spend more money per purchase, illustrating how men might not be as price-sensitive as female consumers.

Online platforms like Shopee need to offer more than just low price to get more men to want to shop online.

Figure 10: Online shopping frequency comparison between men and women; ecommerceIQ E-Marketplace Survey Philippines 2018

It’s early days for the male online shoppers in the Philippines, and the verdict isn’t out yet, but if the data says anything, there’s no doubting the potential of this segment. And if Shopee’s attempt proves to gain enough traction, we can expect more male-oriented online platforms in Southeast Asia in the future.

Asian lovers don’t seem to shy away from Valentine’s day.

According to Mastercard, 75% of mainland Chinese are likely to buy a gift for their partner on this amorous occasion, followed by 74% of Thai, and 63% of Malays and Filipinos.

They’re shelling out hefty sums too.

Chinese residents indicated they would spend an average of US$310, closely trailed by Hong Kong at US$282 and Taiwan with US$281.

Filipinos don’t spend as much as some of their other Asian counterparts, but they’re ranked as some of the most romantic in the region.

An Orient McCann study revealed that Filipinos are the most emotional people in the world and second among those who most frequently say “I love you”, making Valentine’s Day an ideal event to let their feelings be known.

Google Trends data for the past week show interest in Valentine’s Day from the Philippines reaching a zenith as we approach the day itself.

Search interest is escalating fast.

What are Filipinos searching for online? And how can brands leverage this information?

Analyzing customer preferences in The Philippines

ecommerceIQ surveyed 500 Filipinos with access to the internet in an effort to understand how they prepare for Valentine’s Day.

87.2% of those surveyed said they intend to purchase a gift to mark the occasion, whereas only 12.8% indicated that they had no plans to do so.

But it’s not so straightforward.

63.9% of survey respondents said their eventual purchase would take place offline.

Within this subset, 42.8% said both the search and purchase would happen in-store and 21.1% outlined that their purchase journey would start online by searching for products but would be followed by a visit to their local mall.

36.1% of the people surveyed said they’re comfortable transacting online, mainly because of better deals & discounts, as well as the option of scheduling delivery at a particular time.

The most popular gifts sought by Filipinos for Valentine’s Day were surprisingly clothes at number one, followed by chocolates, and perfumes.

Flowers ranked a distant fourth – likely because the price of flowers in Manila tends to spike by 500% on or right before Valentine’s Day.

There’s no real substitute for red roses but consumers have a plethora of options when it comes to clothing and perfumes, leading to price stability.

What’s preventing Filipinos from purchasing online?

According to the survey results, more than 75% of respondents exhorted that they prefer to see the product before buying it.

A further 17% said they can’t trust the quality of products they see online or that they’ve been subjected to scams. Only 5% thought malls offer better deals & discounts.

Lazada was the overwhelming favorite among those who did purchase online. Almost 60% of respondents said they’d shop for Valentine’s Day gifts from the popular etailer. Shopee came in second, with 22.2%.

Despite the fact that the most sought-after gift was clothes, pure-play fashion ecommerce site Zalora secured only 4.4% of the vote.

Photo credit: Maxpixel

Capturing love online

Filipino preferences are indicative of a larger trend engulfing global ecommerce markets.

“It’s very hard to launch a brand these days that’s just online-only,” explains Sucharita Mulpuru, analyst at Forrester Research. “It’s an incredibly difficult and crowded ecommerce environment.”

Filipino brands have consistently tried to latch on to prevailing sentiments during Valentine’s Day to either sell more products or increase brand awareness.

Popular fast food joint Jollibee launched a successful campaign last year playing on themes of unrequited love and eventual reunification.

The ads, which were released in three parts, went viral on social media with over 50 million views on Facebook alone.

Condom manufacturer DKT Health gave away nearly 40,000 condoms in Manila during the Valentine’s Day weekend in 2015 by partnering with stalls selling balloons, chocolates, and roses.

Southeast Asian brands are cognizant of this dynamic, at least in Thailand. David Jou, the CEO and co-founder of Pomelo wrote in 2016 about how he viewed offline as a key component of his business moving forward.

“[…] is our goal to be the biggest online fast fashion brand or is our goal to be the biggest fast fashion brand?”, he said, posing an apparent challenge to his team.

Brands in mature ecommerce markets have already started to take a similar route too. Zara opened a pop-up shop in London last month to support its ecommerce channel. Staff at the store were trained to assist with online orders – shoppers can walk in, examine the inventory, receive recommendations from assistants, and eventually pay for the goods they like. But all the products they purchase are shipped to their address.

For companies looking to capitalize on the visible potential and consumer intent to purchase, they’ll have to overcome the prevalent trust barrier currently impeding ecommerce. A consistent online-offline retail experience could very well be a significant first step in doing so.

All aspects of ecommerce can be controlled by a brand, except for one area that is completely in the hands of the user – product reviews and ratings.

As competition grows on marketplace, where most online customers start their purchasing journey, this aspect has become a reliable filter to help other users decide, “to buy or not to buy.”

On most ecommerce sites, customers can sort products from highest to lowest average ratings, which means a high score gives brands more visibility and a competitive advantage over competitors. Better product rating, better purchase rate, makes sense right?

But five stars alone isn’t enough to convince customers to add to cart, it’s what the reviews are saying that drive checkouts, especially in Asia where an average of 22% customers — the highest globally — count online reviews as a decision making factor due to the strong effect of community.

By aggregating the major consensus of what customers are saying in their reviews, brands can leverage reviews to improve their performance online. How can this be done?

customers review Unilever

Data-analytics platform BrandIQ has collected reviews for four of Unilever’s brands – Dove, Rexona, Simple, Toni and Guy – on Lazada Philippines to showcase what companies can learn from this set of data and separating out the generic complaints (i.e. slow delivery, average product).

The average rating of each brand online gives a high level glance at which brand needs more monitoring and brand building. For example, Toni and Guy scores an average 3.81/5, which isn’t necessarily bad, but can be improved to rank higher in search.

42% of total reviews scrubbed were about the touch and feel of the products, but approximately 58% actually shed light on aspects other than product quality.

What were they saying?

To sort the data, reviews are split into five main categories: Product, General, Delivery, Packaging, and Customer Service.

customers review Unilever

From the data above, the keyword “delivery” is the second most quoted in reviews, but it doesn’t reveal whether sentiment is good or bad.

By splitting customer reviews into two sentiments: positive and negative, we identify the strengths and weaknesses of these categories. This allows companies to understand which area should be prioritised for improvement.

For Unilever brands on Lazada Philippines, despite the small numbers of reviews that talk about Package, the category racked up a strong positive sentiment compared to the other four categories (Service contributes only a small percentage of the total reviews). Extrapolation of this data can signal that the products ordered by customers is well taken care of during the last mile with the packaging the company used.

customers review Unilever

customers review Unilever

Review left by a Dove customer on Lazada PH that was found helpful by at least six other customers.

Customer reviews are a unique and vital aspect to ecommerce that offline retail rarely had to face before. Brands looking to crack the code on e-marketplaces will need to build an understanding for this new metric, and use it as a tool to their advantage.


HOW IS YOUR BRAND PERFORMING ON SOUTHEAST ASIA’S TOP MARKETPLACES?

It’s hard to escape news of changing consumer behavior and ongoing retail ‘disruption’, especially amid the year’s largest sales. An evident signal of this shift has been the steady decline in foot traffic to once widely /lopular Black Friday sales in shopping malls.

Net sales on Black Friday slid 10.4 percent for brick-and-mortar chains, according to RetailNext.

For digital-first businesses, launching online is a no-brainer. But what happens when you are an existing brand that is over 80 years old working with hundreds of distributors around the world? Speed and simple decision making are out of reach.

At the Shangri-La at the Fort Manila, four brands – Abbott, Unilever, Payless, and Titan22 – each leaders in their own categories, were brought together by ecommerce enabler and e-distributor aCommerce to candidly share customer preferences, impact of traffic congestion and what must change internally in order to stay relevant in the future.

This is what was discussed:

1. More Filipino men pushing the carts

“There’s a lot more male shoppers going for groceries, it used to be the woman that was in charge of nutrition labels, but now they tell men to do it,” says Christian Domingo with a laugh. He is the Head of Ecommerce for Abbott Philippines.

Findings from a recent Nielsen study show that 40% of today’s grocery shoppers in the Philippines are men, an increase of six percentage points from last year. The driving factor? Affluent Metro Manila residents, especially in dual-income households.

Nielsen

Grocery shopping behavior for men and women in the Philippines. For more charts & graphs, visit here.

What this means for brands is to rethink marketing strategies traditionally targeted towards women.

Referencing another study, Christian attributed the popularity of ecommerce to worsening traffic conditions in the Philippines. CEO and owner of Titan22, the top sneaker retailer in the country, Dennis Tan, also shared his experience.

“The customer decision window is getting shorter and shorter. It used to take days where people thought about purchases and then come back to it but now the entire process seems to happen with minutes.”

He should know as Titan sold 400 pairs of Jordan Elevens during Single’s Day (11.11) in the first hour online.

“I won’t drive for hours for a chance to get the right shoe size. Consumers have a lot of options where to buy products, so we need to offer a competitive advantage.”

2. After-sales is as important as the purchase journey

Ecommerce is commonly misinterpreted as the shopping experience on a website but what gets forgotten is the attention given to the steps that come after checkout.

“How a customer feels after the purchasing experience is a big factor to the entire happiness experience to retail. This is one of the big pieces,” comments Dennis.

“We need to give them inspiration, not only about the shoe, it’s about happiness guaranteed,” agrees Thea Lizardo, Head of Ecommerce for Payless Philippines (Footwear Specialty Retailers Inc.).

3. Internal processes causing friction, there needs to be unified commerce

aCommerce, ecommerceIQ

Christian Domingo and Thea Lizardo from Abbott and Payless, respectively.

“It’s not typically mentioned but an important factor to talk about is the hurdle of internal friction in terms of technology. There’s a lot of confusion around how we attribute sales,” mentions Thea. “ These discussions are vital to transforming the entire business.”

“How do we remain competitive? How do we keep customers? It’s overwhelming for brands and business owners to adapt to all the changes because it’s so quick but at the end of the day, it’s understanding your numbers, your customers, your behavior and leveraging it.”

“Internally, there is no P&L, who is going to own the digital marketing unit? The marketplace?” comments Christian.

“It’s recommended [at Payless] to have a separate P&L, separate ERP for our ecommerce business as we didn’t want to disrupt the other 76 stores,” replies Thea.

Another internal roadblock Christian hopes to push through is the company’s (lack of) unified shift to ecommerce.

“We are selling milk online but other product divisions such as diabetic drugs need the push. They have hurdles like FDA approval, internal conflict, etc. but what we envision for 2018 is to go beyond the brand because it’s the user looking for a solution to a problem.”

“We [Unilever] have a long heritage selling fast moving consumer goods but we need to move things faster,” closes Kay Veloso, Head of Ecommerce for Unilever Philippines.

“It’s [unified commerce] not an unachievable dream, it’s a basic expectation. B2C, B2B – we serve the entire ecosystem to get the pulse of people we serve, and continue to adapt our brands to ensure their day to day needs are met through ecommerce.”

aCommerce, ecommerceIQ

Kay Veloso at the aCommerce Philippines Partner Media Workshop

4. Data and mobile will pave the retail future

Each brand has their own ideas about the main focuses for 2018. Unilever Philippines hopes to e evaluate its mobile experience to understand if it’s delivering the brand message across the board.

“Omnichannel is the big trend that is here to stay in the Philippines. We need to provide consistent online and offline experiences and preserve the quality of our products both instore and online,” comments Kay. “80% is coming from mobile websites and the Philippines is actually the fastest growing mobile market in Southeast Asia.”

Payless Philippines wants to leverage its data to better utilize its offline stores to become more customer oriented and explore new channels.

“How can we leverage the 76 Payless stores and unify them to serve our customers better? We have online data, consumer data so we can map out our merchandising plan for various locations.”

“Social commerce, exploring the space that we’re not in [social media] but also stores (they can be turned into fulfillment centers). Customers are becoming brand agnostic. We need to capture them when they are on their devices, not only at the mall, people no longer go online, they live online.”

Titan, on the other hand, will focus on expansion through ecommerce to meet the demand growing outside of Metro Manila.

“The challenge for Titan is all our physical stores are in Metro Manila while 50% of consumer base is outside Metro – we will continue to build on it and see what role innovation really plays for us.

“At the moment, ecommerce is more defense than offense, but when you start playing offense is when you start to win.” — Dennis Tan, CEO and owner of Titan22

“It used to be that companies had to set up a website because everyone was doing it but the companies that have their own internal ecommerce teams are the ones that are most successful, you need to be ones to drive and grow it in the organisation.”

Dennis Tan from Titan22


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For more charts & graphs, check out our database.

Seeing as the sun is always shining in Southeast Asia, sunglasses are a popular item that never go out of style, especially in the Philippines. The market is lauded as the fastest growing market in the region for luxury sunglasses brand Oakley as said by Andrew McMahon, former retail manager for Oakley Southeast Asia.

To feed consumer demand, the brand utilizes online channels, in particular, an official store on Lazada to sell to the growing middle class, who is also increasingly tech-savvy. Analytics platform BrandIQ takes a look at the sentiments surrounding Oakley’s products.

Oakley Lazada Philippines

Oakley official store on Lazada Philippines.

Launched almost a year ago, Oakley shop-in-shop (SiS) on Lazada Philippines leaves a good impression for the Filipino customers as witnessed by a 83% positive seller rating provided by customers.

Oakley got a good review rated by the customers on Lazada Philippines

Taking a look at all Oakley sunglasses/products across Lazada Philippines, BrandIQ found that they generate 70% of positive sentiments from the Filipino customers on Lazada Philippines, with ‘authentic’ and ‘fast delivery’ being the keywords that most often appeared in product reviews.

Simultaneously, ‘fake’ is the most common keyword that appeared most often in reviews with negative sentiments as grey sellers are abundant on the marketplace.

Oakley Lazada Philippines

The sentiments show that for customers shopping for higher-end brands, authenticity is more important than a low price — giving brands an advantage competing with grey sellers when they open online.

Discount season generated more reviews

During the build-up to the 11.11 last month, the average discount for Oakley sunglasses on Lazada Philippines increased by 35% on November 9, compared to the week before, and stayed the same until the end of the campaign.

Oakley Lazada Philippines

Sellers for Oakley (Philippines) starts the Online Revolution discounts on November 9. Source: BrandIQ

Although the discounts during this period only increased slightly by approximately 7%, the hype and ergo, traffic, to the website resulted in double the product reviews for Oakley sunglasses post campaign.

For brands attempting to boost ranks in search results on a marketplace, offering special incentives such as high discounts will encourage customers to leave product reviews and increase relevancy of the product.

Oakley Lazada Philippines

HOW IS YOUR BRAND PERFORMING IN SOUTHEAST ASIA’S TOP MARKETPLACES?

*Introducing eIQ DataBite series that shares interesting charts and research findings relevant to consumer habits and ecommerce in Southeast Asia. 

Indonesia is commonly thought of as Southeast Asia’s largest market as it contributes to 40% of the region’s economic output, has the largest population in the region and endorsed as the ideal cash cow for many businesses (VCs and startups alike).

But according to alpha-beta and Nielsen findings in a recent report highlighting consumer demand in the region, Indonesia does not dominate the largest consumer markets for items like shampoo, soft drinks and detergent.

ecommerceIQ

*Nielsen doesn’t report demand for chocolates in VN. Covers six largest cities in Myanmar, includes carbonated soft drinks, isotonic drink and sports drinks. Source: Nielsen.

 

It is the Philippines that actually accounts for a larger share in one third of the consumer product categories looked at by Nielsen (cigarettes, beer, chocolate, diapers, instant noodles, vitamins, moisturizer, etc.).

Other notable stats was Myanmar’s increasing impact on ASEAN’s consumer demand for items like chocolate and diapers and the popularity of facial moisturizer in Thailand.

Euromonitor 2016 reports predict that most consumer demands in Southeast Asia are being driven by online channels. Unilever brand, St.Ives, launched an official shop-in-shop on Shopee through aCommerce Brand Services in July and sold out its all-natural SKUs in a day and a half.

Keep in mind

Indonesia shouldn’t be the only market that foreign FMCG companies look at when assessing the Southeast Asian market, especially as the market becomes saturated with resource rich outsiders.

According to Euromonitor (2016), well-educated Filipinos between 25 and 34 years account for just 3% of the population but more than 20% of discretionary consumption – that is, spending on categories other than basic needs.

By 2020, this particular demographic group is expected to contribute 50% of the country’s discretionary expenditure, much of which is starting to be conducted online.

Read more about the Philippines ecommerce landscape here.