Looking Back: Trends to Watch in PH in 2014 and Beyond By Josiah Go & Chiqui Escareal-Go

(Thanks to Inquirer for publishing this article last Jan. 10, 2014. The co-author of this article, Chiqui Escareal-Go, is President & CEO of marketing training firm Mansmith and Fielders, Inc. An updated trends article will be published at the Inquirer again on Jan. 4, 2015)

2013 was quite a year—for lack of a deserving superlative to describe it—most especially for Filipinos. Just as it was a year filled with disasters from earthquakes and typhoons to pork barrel scams, the Filipino spirit was once again challenged and tested.

Resiliency (besides sense of humor) seems to be in the genetic make-up of every Filipino just as creativity and resourcefulness are able to shine through these trying times

Part of this possibility thinking is seeing opportunities in crises as Filipinos learn to adjust and start discerning what could be next steps for life to continue and to provide a sense of normalcy and continuity.  Some of the ideas listed here might seem weird or downright outrageous, but who knows what can evolve and be built from these ideas, if only we all keep open minds?

1. Volunteerism and reaching out will continue, including more social enterprises, in part, as a response to our own excesses and indifference in life. This will continue despite the challenges posed to NGOs and other civil society organizations (CSOs) on funding sources after the pork barrel scandal. While legitimacy or advocacy and purpose will therefore need to be proven, credibility of the people behind the advocacy will be the name of the game as donors prefer to work with or donate to people (or organizations) they know and trust.

Social enterprises and CSOs will need to work around the current distrust caused by the pork barrel scam; however, goodwill and good intentions will always rise above all else when transparency and accountability become part of the language of leaders. Hopefully, there will be stronger partnerships between private and public sectors for greater synergy and more sustainable effort.

2. Jesus T-shirts will be cool to wear, especially after a calamity.  Maybe the popularity of Pope Francis has something to do with this as more young people are finding Catholicism or Christianity cool. As it also happens, when faced with many challenges, people tend to look for a spiritual or philosophical explanation to events and religion as a “balm for healing and comfort” remains strong in our country.

3. Tacloban will be a “travel destination” by virtue of its being the site of the world’s worst natural disaster. Whether for science, social responsibility or maybe even a sense of macabre curiosity, people from all over the Philippines and even the world will want to come and see for themselves what happened, what is happening or what will happen to Tacloban. While not intending to capitalize on disasters and other people’s misery, there could be some opportunities here if people look closely enough

4. CSR will increase as companies will not hesitate to transfer budget from advertising and HR in order to have the positive 3As (awareness, association and advocacy), which will help their brands stay relevant.

Filipinos are a sensitive and empathic lot. They can be supportive when inspired or vicious when provoked especially in social media. Consumers will now be more aware of the “good companies who cared” and employees will want to be belong or be part of these companies as they too want to feel good with themselves, whether by donating part of their income or their time by volunteering with their company’s efforts. This of course, will mean that advertising, training and hiring may take back seats, and these industries must be ready for this eventuality.

5. Investment in social media will finally be a must as reliance on company websites will not be the consumers’ preferred information source. Times indeed have changed—when we used to ask people we know or trust when it comes to advice on a new car, a trip abroad or even the latest fashion. Nowadays, netizens check out strangers’ blogs or tweets as these provide a more trustworthy feedback rather than hard sell of some company websites that look more like press releases or ads. Social media influencers are also challenged to create value for themselves and their followers to create that authenticity and professionalism.

6. Instagram will gain much more prominence than Facebook among the younger population. IG is like a magazine or comic book of pictures as compared to novels or words, or other print media. While Facebook will continue in popularity among an older target market, more young people are using IG to connect, to express, and to communicate, given their tendency to be more visual, spontaneous and quick.

7. With people multitasking more and increasingly demanding an “instant” culture, executive education and coaching will gain greater popularity together with the need to jumpstart idea generation and innovation.

External sources will be sought to provide another perspective to strategizing as companies realize that certain organizational structures may have created corporate myopia and that changing the business model and culture will mean needing to change people for a deeper bench for talent. In the long run, companies will see the need to hone mavericks in the team who can challenge the status quo or create entire new departments just dedicated to innovation and execution.

8. An aging population will force people to choose to be in control of their youthful health—the 7S’s (spring water, sugar-free, spa, sleep, skin, stem cell, surgery) will be popular. With improvements in science and medicine as well as awareness of health and wellness rising, we will see longer productive years of people who wish to stay, look and feel young.

9. There is a change in sequence of love, marriage, sex and family.  Social norms and gender roles are changing with more women being educated and working. More couples are either co-habiting or are getting married and having children at a later age compared to a generation ago. This has many socio-cultural, economic and political implications. The middle class now has many other opportunities like travel (for work or vacation) and the breadwinner may now be the wife or the woman instead of the man.  There could be smaller-size families with one or two children with both parents working for double income sources. For the lower socioeconomic classes who are already cohabiting because getting married is more expensive, living together may be more out of convenience and practicality. The concept and structure of family are changing and there will be a need for institutions like the school, church and government to come together to instill the proper value and support system according to these new transformations.

10. Social disorder associated with more Filipino migrant workers leaving for abroad will increase with teen pregnancy, child sex abuse and drug use with music or games as surrogate home companions. Along with lifestyle diseases brought by abuse and unhealthy eating and habits which are more from individual choices, social diseases are a reflection of the changing social norms of society that is becoming more tolerant of excesses or sexual freedom. Like in item no. 9, there is a need to rein in the negatives from the socio-economic situation of absentee parenting, where other institutions will have to come in to fill the void.

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Josiah Go features the movers and shakers of the business world and writes about marketing, strategy, innovation, execution and entrepreneurship


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