Marketing Featured Southeast Asia

PH-centric report unwraps the wide impact of BTS x McDo collab

Manila, Philippines – Following the global rollout of the much-awaited fast-food collaboration of McDonald’s and K-pop group BTS for their limited-time meal combo, the PH social media saw a trend surgeon the collab, with a mix of both the positive and the negative side of trends, new insights from media intelligence and insights business Isentia shows.

Trend-wise, the social buzz on the collaboration, or the number of times a particular term is used online, totaled 33,330 from 11 June to 25 June where 32% of those buzz words, approximately 10,563, were seen during the launch day.

“BTS’s influence and popularity is undeniable. They have cultivated more than a loyal fanbase – they have created advocates who are more than willing to defend them and all-out express their admiration and support for them. For companies and brands, it is important to understand at what level your customers are,” said Victoria Lazo, insights manager at Isentia Philippines.

Part of the popularity of the ‘BTS x McDo’ meal collaboration can be attributed to the creative upcycle featuring the BTS x McDo meal coming from ‘ARMYs’ or BTS fans online. For instance, many fans are collecting the meal combo’s packaging and are posting it online, while some get creative and repurpose them such as tumbler wrapping or a bag.

One social media buzz that also contributed to the hype was a fan tweet that showed the Iloilo Business Park lighting up in violet colors, the attributed color of BTS, in celebration of the much-awaited McDonald’s meal collaboration.

There is no shortage as well of creative ‘spin-offs’ from the online community regarding custom meal collaborations, featuring artists such as Taylor Swift, Sarah Geronimo, and Regine Velasquez.

Lastly, stories of inspiration from the community also further augmented the hype, as for the instance of one foodpanda driver in the country, who expressed gratitude on social media because of the constant influx of BTS x McDo meal delivery orders. In response, ARMYs raised in total PHP45,230 to donate to the said delivery rider, thanking him for his hard work.

“Over the years, brands have taken advantage of the positive impact of celebrity endorsements on consumers’ purchase behavior. Tapping prominent personalities, as well as social media influencers, has been a staple marketing strategy used by companies to create waves to promote brand awareness, shape perception, or push for brand loyalty,” said Kate Dudang, insights manager at Isentia Philippines.

Despite the positive outlook of said campaign, there has been a relative fall-out within the local sphere, including customers who purposely crumpled the packaging of the meal and posted it on social media.

Infamously, the term ‘biot’, or the Cebuano term for gay, was used by a lot of ‘haters’ and ‘trolls’ in a negative way to equate them with BTS. Caught within the issue as well are several Grab delivery riders, who posted on social media the homophobic remarks.

It should be recalled that Grab Philippines recently published a statement, stating that they have suspended the drivers in question and are working towards enforcing their culture of inclusivity within the company.

Despite these fall-offs, the campaign still went on actively, with McDonald’s Philippines offering customers exclusive BTS content on their own app, as well as free drink upgrades to those who ordered the BTS meal via Ride-Thru. The fast-food chain in the country also convinced fans to eat the BTS meal with fellow fans by only charging 7 PHP per address to those who order for others. 

“What BTS did with the BTS meal is beyond product interaction, we analysts saw an amazing display of dedication from the ARMY. This display of brand dedication opens up many avenues for other brands to capitalize on certain trends and personas. From preserving the packaging and turning it into different BTS-themed items to outright uninstalling delivery courier services apps for calling BTS slurs. But with all that said, calling the ARMY ‘just a fandom will forever be an understatement,” said Francis Calucin, insights analyst at Isentia Philippines.

Marketing Featured Southeast Asia

Latest PH-centric report unveils both the ‘dirty and good’ of the alcohol, tobacco industry

Manila, Philippines – With the taboo belief of consuming alcohol and tobacco products now vanishing due to the open acceptance in our modern society, the alcohol and tobacco industry has since thrived in the Philippine market, as media intelligence company Isentia notes in its latest report how the so-called ‘sin’ products are perceived in the social media space.

In the bigger realm of the alcohol scene, recent buzz about alcohol drinks can be attributed to the rise of brand endorsements represented by K-pop artists and K-drama personalities. For instance, when South Korean beer brand Kloud Beer announced that K-pop boy band BTS were to represent the Lotte Chilsung-affiliated brand, Filipino ‘ARMYs’ or BTS fans took to social media to express anticipation for the announcement.

Isentia notes that a total of 1,761 social buzz was recorded on 15 April, the day the brand ambassadors were announced, and a total of 1,362 social buzz on 23 April when Kloud Beer released a short promotional video showing all of the members of BTS.

Social buzz pertains to the keyword or ‘trend’ frequently mentioned by social media users in a day. The social buzz used by Isentia are based on their existing Isentia Workspace, as well as Google Trends statistics.

Aside from garnering a high traction in April, the keywords ‘chicken and beer’ also dominated the social media space, possibly attributed to the well-known chicken combination of ‘chimaek’ which is a colloquial word of chicken and ‘maekju’ (beer in Korean).

“Considering the current health crisis and the rapid changes in consumer behavior specific to the industry, it is important now more than ever to not just be aware but have the numbers to back decision-making in communicating brand messages and fortifying the brand-to-audience relationship. It is not enough to know the issues. Knowledge gained from observing buzz peaks, determining breakout conversations, and deciphering social trends equips brands with data they can use to maximize media space they exist in,” Marla Edullantes, senior insights analyst at Isentia Philippines, said.

Veering away from the K-pop spotlight, local alcohol brand giant in the Philippines San Miguel Corporation (SMC) also gained positive traction this April following its recent CSR initiative on funding the historic cleanup of the Pasig River, a well-known river in Metro Manila. Said initiative gained praise from netizens, with some users even jokingly saying that they will support SMC’s positive efforts by ‘buying and consuming beer’, as well as ‘buying all of their available products’.

Despite these ‘glowing’ notes, the alcohol industry is also a facet for backlash among Filipino netizens.

One notable case was a community pantry located in Muntinlupa City in Metro Manila that gave soju, a popular Korean alcoholic drink, as part of what people can get for free. The negative flak was heightened due to the fact that the initiative was set by the ‘Sangguniang Kabataan, a local equivalent of a youth-oriented civil organization. According to the netizens, despite the heightened popularity of ‘soju’ due to prominence in K-drama shows, there is still a line as to who the target audience be, and it makes sense that youth members are still not allowed based on age restrictions.

Another notable case is the sentiment shared by Brett Tolhurs, president of the Wine Depot, who commented that Filipinos are not drinking the right wine pairing for the tropical season. His suggestion of pairing ‘lechon’, a well-known Filipino delicacy of slow-roasted pork, to be paired with rose wine, was met negatively by Filipinos, criticizing him for his lack of awareness on the Filipino pairing scene.

“What brands can leverage from this is that spokespersons should be able to balance commentaries without coming out with sweeping generalizations that could trigger netizens to veer away from product consumption and instead focus on personalities representing the brand. By mining data-driven insights, brands should be looking at not only how positive or negative the discussions are, but also the manner how their audiences engage with them and their stakeholders,” Isentia said in a press statement.

For cigarettes, there was a notable theme from consumers that smoking after intercourse is something that they do. This sharing of behaviors and experiences is something alcohol and tobacco industry players could look into in terms of user-generated content to bolster ideas in content marketing, advertisements, and promotional sales.

Another pairing people mentioned by netizens is no surprise: cigarettes and coffee. Similarly, these suggestions can open doors to co-branding that could benefit both brands from different industries.

“It is vital for brands to have a good grasp of the trends and consumer behavior in their industry. Given the alcohol and tobacco brands’ defined customer base, looking into the digital public’s organic conversations relating specifically to their industry may cull out fresh and data-driven ideas that will help in deciding how to improve the brand’s appeal to their intended audience,” said Kate Dudang, insights manager at Isentia Philippines.

Marketing Featured Southeast Asia

Latest research takes dive on the ‘good and bad’ in PH status quo of delivery couriers

Manila, Philippines – Courier services in the Philippines, whether for food deliveries or for package logistics, have been an integral part of the Filipino e-commerce shopping. With the heightened usage locally, media intelligence and insights company Isentia has recently published a study noting the local status of courier players, and how their ups and downs can help them strive for local competition.

The Philippine arm of Grab has seen its fair share of the positive limelight after it capitalized on the infamous ‘lugaw incident’, which other brands have also banked into. For context, last 31 March, a law enforcer confronted a GrabFood driver for delivering lugaw, a local rice porridge meal that the latter deemed non-essential, which has earned flak from netizens. 

Grab banked on this trend by releasing a promo that uses the code “LUGAWISESSENTIAL”, generously applying no delivery charges off their GrabFood orders.

On the other hand, food delivery courier foodpanda in the Philippines had a minor backlash from the Filipino netizens following its partnership with fast-food chain McDonalds last 20 March for a ‘50% discount for food purchases’. Netizens were quick to point to the misleading promo campaign, as the fine print of the campaign said that the maximum discount for the purchase is capped at PHP75. 

According to Isentia, compared to just headlining ‘max PHP75 off of your food purchase’, consumers will still see this as a win and will prompt more positive feedback than complaints from being misled to getting a smaller discount. Said promo debacle garnered 5,176 buzz during the day it was announced.

“Delivery services are now needed more than ever. But what delivery service should you avail? This trendspotting report incorporates the inputs of all consumers and translating them not just into actionable insights that brands can use, but also into informed decisions consumers can make when choosing which delivery courier is best for them,” Francis Angelo Calucin, insights analyst at Isentia Philippines said.

On a different spectrum, local courier Lalamove has prevailed in the local market due to its recognition of its employees who strive in their work even during the pandemic. However, many netizens are disappointed with the company’s culture of employees only receiving low standard rates and insufficient incentives.

Just recently, a Facebook group called “Lalamove Riders Group” has been flooded by mixed sentiments with engaged netizens commenting and contributing to discussions. With over 18,000 members, it serves as space for Lalamove riders to share and exchange information regarding company updates and their own experiences as drivers for Lalamove.

Meanwhile, a new local courier player has been noted to stand out from its competitors due to its unique offering of online franchising. With ads suggesting that one can earn up to PHP60k a month, it is not a wonder why app downloads reached 153,644 within just four months from its launch. According to Isentia data, there was a total of 1,898 buzz and Toktok-associated mentions in March 2021.

According to Victoria Bernadette Lazo, insights analyst at Isentia Philippines, the e-commerce and logistics industries have boomed and continued to thrive, and with tighter community quarantine guidelines in the country, more people realize the convenience of having things delivered to their doorstep.

“Now, more than ever, is the right time for e-commerce companies to listen in on the buzz surrounding their industry. On top of listening, these companies need to look for ways to make the conversations work in their favor,” Lazo stated.

Rowelyn Bigaya, insights analyst at Isentia Philippines, added that brands have shifted towards a more digital aspect so customers can buy their products from the convenience and safety of their homes amidst the pandemic. 

“Despite contact restrictions and lockdown regulations, companies could continue operation and provide jobs while adapting to the new normal. The use of trendspotting studies will highlight how brands can leverage the potential of digital transformation and optimize conversations to understand and cater to the needs of the public,” Bigaya stated.

Marketing Featured Southeast Asia

PH retailers need to listen to socmed chatter to understand COVID-19 consumer behavior: study

Manila, Philippines – As the initial wave of the COVID-19 pandemic swept the country, pandemic-relevant items such as face masks, face shields, and hand sanitizers have surged in demand. With this new ‘essentials’ in market, a new study from media monitoring and insights solution provider Isentia notes that Philippine retailers need to listen to the clamor of consumers regarding these essentials, especially through social media channels.

Isentia notes that face masks have naturally garnered high attention from the general public on social media, as buzz online has peaked at 75,715 impressions at least during March 2021. The demand has been also amplified with three local events, as follows:

  • The initial announcement from the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) last 13 March where the agency stated that face masks should be worn, even inside of their homes. The statement was met with ridicule from the general public on social media, stating that wearing face masks at home was unnecessary. Some had sarcastic reactions saying that they should then wear masks while bathing, that policemen should be assigned inside their homes to monitor, and that they might as well require wearing a face shield at home.
  • A video of a woman onboard the Metro Rail Transit-3 Train line (MRT-3) last 23 March was met with outrage from netizens after not wearing a face mask and face shield on board the train, where she was met with confrontation from other passengers.
  • An online news report from 30 March stated that people from the English territory Gibraltar are no longer wearing masks due to the absence of COVID-19 cases in the territory. Filipino netizens perceived the news in awe and envy, while others expressed skepticism on how the Philippine Government has been handling the pandemic in the country.

In addition, Isentia notes that the most discussed face masks in the country are N95 masks and the brand Coppermask, as many netizens complain online about using disposable surgical masks when wearing makeup. Some netizens reacted negatively towards the Philippines’ vaccine expert panel’s suggestion that wearing two face masks reduces the risk of getting COVID-19 by 90%. Others praised Doc Adam, an Australian doctor and YouTube personality, for his critique of the Coppermask – saying that wearing the mask is just a fashion statement for most people. 

“Since the pandemic, what the public deems as essential has very much shifted. Masks are now a must-have and retailers and producers have found ways to cater to different tastes,” said Victoria Bernadette Lazo, insights manager at Isentia Philippines.

In regards to face shields, conversations about them were driven by multiple events during the month of March, garnering a total of 43,599 total buzz during the month. The highest momentum was on the Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Francisco Duque III who went out on the streets of Baclaran to hand out face shields. The majority of the comments were highly unfavorable in nature, with netizens dubbing that it was a ‘failed PR attempt’ for the government arm and its top official.

Lastly, ‘hand sanitizers’ garnered 1,605 total buzz in the social media. One news article that included the mention of sanitizers struck out on 13 March when Thailand Prime Minister Paruth Chan-ocha sprayed hand sanitizer on the reporters of his press conference to avoid answering questions. Filipino commenters still found a way to correlate the news to Philippine government leaders such as President Rodrigo Duterte and Vice President Leni Robredo. 

“With the threat of COVID-19 still lingering, you can never underestimate any measure when it comes to your safety. A lot of luxuries were taken away from us but what we still have is a choice, an option to choose your face masks, face shields and even the hand sanitizer that goes along with your bag,” Francis Angelo Calucin, insights analyst at Isentia Philippines, said.

The report uses the example of Coppermask which engaged in a so-called ‘Streisand effect’, where the brand attempted to hide, remove, or censor information about negative reviews of their product, such as those of Australian doctor/YouTuber Doc Adam, which in return has the unintended consequence of further publicizing that information, often via the Internet.

“Social media, given its volatile nature, is a good avenue for retail brands to gain insights into customer preferences. Amid the clutter in online platforms, trendspotting reports unlock relevant organic conversations that may be leveraged by brands in devising strategies that will impact their consumers.” Kate Dudang, insights manager at Isentia Philippines, explained. 

Meanwhile, Gladys Mae Ruiz, insights analyst at Isentia Philippines added, “A critical situation like the COVID-19 pandemic has pushed human behavior in different directions. Trendspotting studies such as this will help brands and businesses better understand and respond to the ever-changing consumer behaviour.”

Marketing Featured Southeast Asia

New report unveils the ‘bad’ strategies PH telcos play—and how they can flip it

Manila, Philippines – As more and more telco users vent out online in regards to issues with their communication providers, the Internet has now become a new hub for telco players to create critical data-driven decisions in improving their services, new report from media intelligence and insights business Isentia.

The report had uncovered customer sentiments on social media and how these experiences from the services provided by Philippine ISPs, fold into every Filipino’s digital consumer journey. 

Isentia noted that netizens frequently take their frustrations to the comments section of Facebook Pages to express opinions and share their user experience. Once posted, these comments, especially those like complaints, can be picked up by other consumers and spread like wildfire. 

Taking for instance telco provider PLDT, when they issued an advisory that its users may experience slow or intermittent internet services and emerged as the top trending topic for that day, generating negative tweets from subscribers. While PLDT responded with a statement justifying the quality of internet services that day, it could not temper further unfavourable discussions surrounding the incident.

Isentia also noted that customers also complain about how telcos like Globe resort to ‘automated replies’ instead of immediate action from the company. Criticisms on how ‘repetitive’ and ‘insulting’ the templated reply saying, ‘We don’t want you to feel that way…’ dominated the discussions.

“Internet access has been and will continue to be a basic necessity in every household. But, from the perspective of many, these internet service providers are struggling to consistently satisfy its customers’ needs. From sluggish connection speed to poor customer service, a lot are voicing out their complaints publicly where everyone can see the quality of service that they provide,” said Francis Calucin, insights analyst at Isentia.

Despite efforts from local telco players to improve their marketing strategies, netizens often have mixed to negative views about them. For instance, many netizens have complained about telco Smart Communications that they don’t need a foreign ambassador or endorser but instead improve first on their telco services, following the telco’s announcement of Hollywood actor Chris Evans as one of its newest endorsers, aside from the rise of Korean drama stars and pop stars as well taking helm as brand ambassadors as well.

Another example is how netizens often have mixed thoughts about service provider CONVERGE’s use of memes, which was met with some harbored unfavourable comments while others see the strategy of injecting memes in its content producing a significant traction for the brand to the delight of other netizens.

Amid the bad light to the local telco players, Filipino netizens are inclined to switch networks, specifically with the new player DITO Telecommunications. Despite early approval of the franchise, the telco isn’t also safe from criticisms, such as complaints on roll-out and delivery of their SIM cards necessary for their services to work. In addition, Isentia also noted that they have recorded claims that certain high-end phones were the only ones compatible with DITO’s mobile data services, as well as fears from the public that the telco is allegedly a medium for China to spy, risking the security and privacy of Filipinos.

“Since the pandemic, telco companies have had to step up their game. In the Philippines, they were directed by the President himself to amp up their services. This study looks into conversations on the top telco industry players and dabbles on one of the newer ones who raked in hundreds of thousands of buzz in a single month. Companies can leverage trendspotting studies like this to harvest and pinpoint relevant insights and themes from organic conversations about their services and industry,” said Victoria Lazo, insights manager at Isentia Philippines.

Isentia recommended in its report that companies need to invest more in improving their messaging by streamlining and personalising conversations and responding to customer issues. This is a source of rabid responses from users that could greatly reflect and affect the image and reputation of a brand. Also, telco companies can migrate discussions to more private avenues – SMS, private messages, and emails – to address their concerns and avoid being bombarded with comments of unfavourable nature.

They also noted that telcos can promote an arena of competitiveness to cause market disruption. Telco companies can explore throwing in deals and freebies to cascade the value for money message, in response to embracing regulation and competition.

In regards to marketing, Isentia recommends that local personas can work better. Brands can tap multiple personalities across their campaigns and do not have to stick to just one throughout an entire period. Messaging and creativity of the promotion are vital points to be considered. The public now craves more organic promotions/marketing efforts over traditional ones, which will help appeal to the younger generations.

“Having a data-driven approach in finding out what competitors or the industry as a whole has been doing will help brands close in performance gaps and identify key areas they can work on to boost their growth. Trendspotting reports such as this aim to encourage brands to look outside of their business and understand the industry better so they can formulate informed strategies and come up with relevant initiatives,” Kate Dudang, insights manager at Isentia Philippines, stated.

Technology Featured APAC

Media intel Isentia adopts Google’s speech-to-text tech

Singapore – Isentia, an APAC-based media intelligence and insights company, has adopted the speech-to-text technology of tech giant Google in order to provide real-time services to its business clients.

Through the integration, Isentia enables communications and media relations teams and organizations, relying on its range of AI-powered media intelligence products and capability, to manage reputations and opportunities in real-time. 

The technology feature automates the conversion of broadcasters’ speech to text. It matches words in text transcripts to the video player’s content, even during the prime time television news bulletins and current affairs shows, where the demand peaks ten times.

The broadcast results can be analyzed using the following features as well:

  • A boundary detection service that uses AI to identify when one news story ends, and the next begins, isolating relevant media items and giving clients immediate access to news segments relevant to them 
  • An ad filtering service that uses AI to identify and remove advertisements from automated broadcast monitoring 
  • A music filtering service that uses AI to remove the music that plays before or after many broadcast news items 

“Our monitoring goes far beyond cataloging mentions of brands or executive team members, to the supply of information about what people are saying about a business, industry, or interests in near real-time. That is extremely important because the value many of our clients gain is the ability to understand a trend or an event and respond quickly,” said Paul Russell, chief technology officer at Isentia.

With Google Cloud, Isentia deployed this new TV and radio broadcast solution within three months and planned to expand it to other languages, such as Chinese dialects, Malay, and Tagalog. 

“Isentia is delighted to be able to showcase world-class AI-driven improvements to our client deliveries courtesy of Google API’s and applications. The technology that sits behind the Isentia offer contains to lead the way in the industry,” said James Merritt, chief executive for Asia at Isentia.

He added, “The transition to Google Workplace was perfectly timed and saw a seamless transition. This helped Isentia to quickly and effectively adapt to the ways of working required to thrive during the pandemic and opened up new opportunities for productivity and collaboration.”