Tech

Smartphones Upended Democracy and Christmas Shopping in the Philippines

A new study by Facebook shows how mobile devices have become crucial to Christmas.
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We're all too keenly aware of how smartphones and social media have adversely affected the state of liberal democracy around the world, and how those effects are even more grave in a social media-addicted country such as the Philippines.

But on the flip side, a new study commissioned by the local arm of Facebook reveals that smartphones and social media have also helped us accomplish our Christmas shopping. The study explored the shopping habits of 1,504 people ages 18 and up in the Philippines and combined that with data from Facebook and Instagram. The findings reveal that especially in the holiday season, Filipinos are using our mobiles more and more to discover and buy products, helping us to make better-informed purchase decisions.

Filipinos discover products while browsing through social media on their mobile devices. An overwhelming 94 percent of surveyed shoppers in the Philippines said Facebook influences their holiday shopping. Instagram also factored heavily, as 67 percent of shoppers claimed it to be influential in their holiday shopping journey. The study showed that these are often done during idle time: 59 percent use mobile to shop at times when they would not be productive otherwise.

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In fact, mobile-first shopping also figures into shoppers' trips to physical, brick-and-mortar stores: Of all respondents, 64 percent said they continue to browse their phones while walking the aisles of shopping centers to come to a purchase decision. The top five reasons for this are: to compare product prices (72 percent), read product reviews (66 percent), compare competitor products (66 percent), review their shopping list (59 percent), and take photos (56 percent).

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The type of content that Filipino shoppers consume is also very telling of our culture and preferences. We tend to prefer videos that emphasize families (64 percent); videos that give us new ideas about gifts to buy (60 percent) and are humorous in a way that celebrates the holidays. When asked about the kinds of videos that they consider useful for the holidays, respondents cited holiday recipe videos (61 percent), tips showing them how to get the most of a trip to the store (49 percent) and product demonstrations (48 percent).

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So even as the world as we know it is burning in the harsh blue light of our own smartphones, we can at least take solace in the ways that these devices do help us. Merry Christmas!

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