Survey: PH still ‘offline market’ for e-commerce

The latest edition of an annual “digital life” survey has shown that Filipinos are still hesitant to make purchases in the Internet because of the lack of online trade infrastructure in the country.

An executive of consumer research firm TNS discusses the results of the “Digital Life 2012” study in a recent press briefing in Makati City

In the Digital Life 2012 study conducted by consumer research firm TNS, it was revealed that although a growing number of consumers is doing online research prior to purchasing a certain product, they still prefer buying “offline”.

The most number of consumers who conduct online research are looking for a new car, with 18 percent researching exclusively online, and 84 percent doing both online and offline research prior to purchase.

While the Philippines continues to be predominantly an “offline market” in purchasing products and services, the TNS survey said some categories have started to register online purchase, with holiday or travel purchases topping the list at 8 percent, followed by computer peripherals (2 percent), clothes and shoes (1 percent), and personal computers or laptops and tablets (1 percent).

Most online users are still accessing the Internet through personal computers at home (50 percent), and Internet cafés (49 percent), but “non-stationary” access to the Internet is steadily increasing with the advent of smartphones.

Consumers accessing the Internet through their mobile phones and tablets are at 12 percent and 1 percent, respectively.

The study, which covered 1,000 local respondents, also showed that the digital medium has overtaken radio and print. Results revealed that on a daily basis, 89 percent of respondents watch TV, 45 percent connect to the Internet, and 36 percent listen to the radio. Reading newspapers and magazines follow at 12 percent and 4 percent.

Interestingly, the online medium, alongside the mobile phone, is now the primary communication channel for Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) and their families.

A total of 81 percent of families who have relatives abroad communicate with them using the Internet through their personal computers, with 77 percent using their mobile phones to call or send SMS and MMS messages.

Only 24 percent of respondents continue to use landline phones to reach their family members abroad. Majority of family members were likewise found to belong to social networking sites, primarily Facebook (90 percent) and Twitter (6 percent).

The survey revealed that 54 percent of Filipinos say they have used the Internet. The study found that Internet usage is greatest among Filipinos aged 34 and below, with the younger age groups having had very recent online access.

A total of 85 percent of Filipinos aged 16 to 20 years old have accessed the Internet within the past four weeks, followed by 74 percent of Filipinos between the ages 21 to 24 years old. More males were also seen accessing the Internet at 58 percent compared to females at 52 percent.

“While Filipinos who belong to the upper and middle class have greater access to the Internet, the TNS Digital Life 2012 study found that the incidence of Internet usage is over 50 percent across urban Philippines,” said Gary de Ocampo, managing director of TNS Philippines.

About 71 percent of Filipinos from the ABC socio-economic classes (SEC) and 51 percent from the D SEC have access to the Internet.

“As part of the Digital Life 2012 study, TNS looked into the social media activities of Filipinos in relation to brands and shopping,” said de Ocampo.

Filipino digital consumers, he said, have an average number of 440 friends on social networks, noticeably higher than the 171 average number of friends from last year’s findings.

Filipino teenagers between 16 to 20 years old remain at the forefront of social networking with the most number of friends (with an average of 613 friends) compared to the other age groups.

Social networkers are also interested to learn about brands and are open to the idea of online shopping using social networking sites. The study found that 59 percent of social networkers believe that social networking sites are a good place to learn about brands, while 45 percent think that these sites are a good place to purchase products.

TNS also gave a snapshot of its upcoming Mobile Life survey which polled 500 local respondents and is due to come out this March 2012.

The study found that mobile phone ownership in the country has increased to 84 percent from 2010’s 81 percent. Mobile phones are now as popular as DVDs players in terms device ownership, it added.

In terms of mobile phone brand, Nokia is still by far the most popular handset with 64 percent of those surveyed said they owned a Nokia phone, but down from 2010’s 70 percent. Samsung was a far second at 12 percent.

Smartphone ownership has also grown with 34 percent of the respondents saying they own a smartphone unit.

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