MANILA - The coronavirus pandemic fast-tracked the growth of the digital economy in Southeast Asia by at least 5 years, a Facebook Philippines official said, as he encouraged firms to understand consumer behavior in the changing e-commerce environment.
There can be about 340 million digital consumers in Southeast Asia by 2025, said Facebook Philippines country lead for Business Growth Akshat Jain during the virtual DIGICON OMNI 2020, citing a study.
By 2025, the average spend per digital consumer is seen to rise 3.5 times compared to 2018, Jain said.
"The year 2020 has been a pivotal year due to COVID and this disruption has put everything on fast-foward...For many businesses the only way to secure their future is to build a robust online presence," Jain said.
In the Philippines, where one of the longest coronavirus lockdowns was imposed, the pandemic has accelerated the online economy such as e-commerce, logistics delivery and cashless payments.
CONSUMERS OF THE FUTURE
In the Philippines, at least 74 percent of the overall population who are 15 years and above are digital consumers, he said.
At least 40 percent of consumers surveyed in the Philippines see online as the key channel for purchasing, Jain said citing a survey conducted with 16,000 consumers in Southeast Asia - 2,023 were Filipinos.
Jain added that 1 in every 3 Filipinos said that they consider online as their "most preferred channel" when shopping for all product categories.
Filipinos are also driven by "openness to digital discovery," Jain said. Digital discovery-led purchases is the opposite of planned purchases. The discovery-led category include alcoholic beverages, electronics and clothing, among others, he said.
"Planned buying will always be there but there are more categories led by discovery as more and more Filipinos are purchasing online," he said.
Social media has also become a channel for viewing and discovering short and medium videos, Jain said.
In the Philippines, 38 percent of overall digital consumers are "high-spenders," comparable to its neighbors, the survey showed.
Aside from high-spenders, consumers are categorized as mid-spenders or those who are deal driven and low-spenders or the very targetted shoppers, Jain said.
During the pandemic and as purchases shift online, the use of e-wallets also surged as the preference for cash reduced, the survey showed.
E-commerce has also bridged the gap in first and second tier cities when it comes to spending. Those in rural areas are exhibiting similar behaviors in discovery, spending and frequency in shopping, the survey showed.
Facebook earlier said shopping via holiday sales could surge in terms of cumulative sales as more and more Filipinos search for promotions and hold off their planned purchases to get a better deal this coming holiday season.