Filipinos invest on happiness amid pandemic blues

Over the last two years, the catch phrase “Deserve ko ‘to!” (I deserve this!) has been widely used by Filipinos to justify online splurges. Some think it’s instant gratification. Others think it’s a coping mechanism. But it is amply clear that Covid-19 triggered an increasing number of  Filipinos to spend more on themselves, promoting happiness amid the pandemic blues.

In line with this, global trend forecasting company WGSN shared that the Philippines’ internet economy was actually the fastest-growing market in Asia Pacific in 2022. Citing the latest Asia: Markets to Watch report, WGSN added that the big e-commerce platforms and the emergence of food delivery apps were the biggest contributors to the country’s growing online market.

Having experienced one of the longest lockdowns in the world, WGSN also reported that more Filipinos have become “joy seekers” or consumers who turn to products and experiences that offer a sense of reassurance.

Ron Magno, a banker by profession and a foodie by passion, shared that his food consumption habits changed during the pandemic. “Before the pandemic, I enjoyed exploring food chains and restaurants with my family, friends, and officemates. However, I had to forgo that hobby with the community quarantines. I then developed a habit of buying food online from online shops on Instagram, the closest experience that I could get to my pre-pandemic dining habits.”

Inspired by the small online food businesses, Magno also tried to learn baking to combat boredom during the lockdowns. “Cabin fever hit me hard. I ended up buying equipment and tools online to get me started on baking. I’d say it brought me short-term satisfaction until I realized that baking wasn’t for me. With eased up restrictions, I now find myself dining out again, although ordering food online has also become a norm for me.”

For market analyst and art enthusiast Mary Joyce Fernandez, it was painting indoors that helped her manage the pandemic stress. “When I had challenges in adopting the work-from-home setup, I knew I had to start painting at home. I immediately purchased paint kits, started scratch painting, and even tried building miniature houses. Rewarding myself with these activities after a long day keeps me more optimistic these days.”

With the reopening of the Philippine economy this year, WGSN added that Filipino consumers will continue to seek happiness through online shopping, whether to fulfill a recreational need at home or satisfy a missed sense of excitement outdoors.

“For the first time in two years, live concerts are permitted again. When I saw the upcoming concert of my favorite artist, I immediately felt the energy that a concert crowd brings. Despite the possibility of the concert being canceled due to the rising number of positive cases, I still ended up buying the tickets because I wanted to feel the happiness of attending concerts again after being cooped up at home for so long,” shared Maria Patricia Sacay, a designer and concert goer.

“Filipinos have been showing more interest to spend on products and experiences that bring them happiness and comfort,” shared Athena Chen, senior strategist of WGSN in APAC. “As they continue to feel the impact of Covid-19 on their mental health, these online purchases naturally become a form of self-care, which promotes a better well-being.”

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