When we greeted the year 2020, we didn’t think we’d have to go through one of the world’s worst crises in this century—the coronavirus pandemic.

Plans were rerouted as businesses were—and still are—faced with a myriad of uncertainties. Campaigns were put to a halt as COVID-19 demanded strategy recalibration following the changes in consumers’ lifestyle, attitude, and spending habits.

This resulted in a rapidly tech-savvier change in the marketing landscape. With mobility restrictions in place, more activities have been moved online as more people spend most of their time at home with their faces in front of the screen—away from brick-and-mortar stores and toward digital channels.

The new decade is here and it is only wise to predict what this year holds for the marketing industry to remain steadfast in the game. Here are the top trends that marketers in the Philippines should implement in 2021, based on the forecast and analysis from various global studies:


Brands that are more attuned to their purpose can expect a positive shift in their customers’ perception and preference towards them.


Findings from the 2021 Global Marketing Trends by Deloitte Insights show that 79% of their respondents take note of the brands that positively respond to COVID-19 to help their customers, workforces, and communities.

We’ve seen brands manifest this in countless ways, but mostly by toning down their hard-sell marketing. For instance, BDO Unibank offered a 60-day payment extension on loan payments to help qualified clients cope with the COVID-19 lockdown.

Burger King, on the other hand, recently broke the Internet for telling people to order from its biggest competitor, McDonald’s, and to other fast-food chains in support of the struggling businesses alike that employ thousands of staff. KFC paused their famed “Finger Lickin’ Good” slogan after 64 years, saying that it “doesn’t feel quite right” upon having the businesses and lives around the globe upended by the coronavirus.

This trend, according to Deloitte Insights, has proven that brands can get ahead of the game when they inherently understand why they exist and who they are best built to serve regardless of what they sell today. Purpose-driven marketing is what connects the brand to its brand identity and its commitment to its stakeholders.


More and more consumers are now shifting to digital commerce with mobility restrictions and anxieties still in place.


Recently, Comm&Sense conducted an online survey that asked the Filipino netizens about how they foresee their e-commerce behaviors changing once the pandemic is over. Assuming that they’re currently using tech-enabled platforms to accomplish errands, results show that paying bills (43%) and bank transactions (44%) are the top activities that the respondents will do more frequently. Other online activities involving medicines, remittances, food, health consultation, home, and clothes shopping will remain the same post-pandemic in terms of frequency.

These findings align with Accenture’s COVID-19 Consumer Research. The digital commerce trend is expected to continue post-outbreak as consumers reported that the proportion of instances they shop online will increase from 32% to 37%. These findings only confirm the burgeoning area of digital commerce worldwide, suggesting the need for a substantial investment in this channel, particularly in the Philippines.

In 2020 alone, the adoption of online as a channel for shopping markets in the Philippines showed a 1.3 times increase since 2019. There’s also a 1.3 times growth in the number of categories that Filipinos are buying online since 2019, based on a commissioned study by Facebook with Bain & Company.

Among the categories that showed significant growth in online retail penetration, groceries achieved the most dramatic growth as Filipinos became 2.7 times more receptive to buying them online in 2020. The study’s 2025 projection of gross merchandise value (GMV) in online retail also suggests that the industry-wide spending among Filipinos will grow 2.5 times, jumping from an average of $4 billion to $10 billion in 2025.

With COVID-19 and community quarantines in place, it is only expected in the coming years that the above mentioned forecast will grow further as more offline shoppers are moving online to adapt to homebound living.


The omnichannel future is no longer optional as audiences demand brands to go full with their digital capabilities.


Brands should be able to satisfy the full consumer journey in order to stay ahead of the competition. Setting up a website or social media presence is a start, but preparing for an omnichannel future also means developing internal capabilities and investing in proprietary assets such as having a digital marketing strategy and harnessing the power of tech and data analytics.

Facebook and Bain & Company’s study coined the trend Discovery Commerce as Southeast Asian consumers become more driven by openness to digital discovery. 62% of their respondents cited social media, short videos, and messaging as the largest source for discovering new brands and products. Meanwhile, 70% of intentional engagements happen through e-commerce, suggesting that consumers now recognize e-commerce as a platform for intentional purchase.

“Research online, purchase offline” no longer applies so marketing investments should be maximized to boost awareness about the brand and to generate leads. Digital marketing nowadays is a tough sport as more brands amplify their ads vying for the audience’s attention. This is why optimizing product visibility for customers through localized marketing reach can go a long way.

According to the Facebook study, consumers are more likely to consider the brand and its products provided that there’s the right assortment for pack sizing and tailored price positioning. This can go on a successful sales cycle when brands are working hard to enhance buying experience through seamless and efficient services.


Trust flourishes when brands are able to close the gap between what they say and what they do.


Comm&Sense conducted an online survey that asked the Filipino netizens’ opinions about those brands that take a stand. Accordingly, the online respondents trust a brand when they incorporate their programs to a good cause (91%), collaborate with non-profit organizations (87%), and create ads about their social stance (85%).

Deloitte Insights’ study underscored this—that having coordinated efforts are key to building trust. To keep a maintained relationship with customers and audiences, brands should be able to walk the talk in order to ensure that their intentions and competence are well-aligned.

Customers are 1.6 times more likely to purchase from them over competitors when they display humanity and 2.4 times more likely when they deliver their promises. When brands are willing to be held accountable and their intentions are congruent with their actions, that’s what makes building trust easier.


“Love lokal” is not just about buying locally sourced products anymore—it’s also about supporting community stores.


Among the emerging trends in the year 2021 is the growing love of consumers for local products—more specifically from community stores and micro businesses. This poses a significant influence on consumers’ brand decisions as more Filipinos become open to switching brands.

According to the study commissioned by Facebook, 48% of Filipino consumers have switched their most purchased brands in 2020 amid the pandemic. This makes the playing field more challenging as businesses have to be more innovative to maintain customer relationships.

Having limited mobility has made it possible for micro and small businesses to penetrate consumers within their communities. Despite the social distancing protocol that encourages people to stay apart, the burgeoning support to local community businesses is proof that it has only brought people together, one way or another.

As the world slowly rebuilds itself from the emotional and economic toll that’s brought about by COVID-19, 80% of consumers feel more or as connected to their communities—and 88% expect these connections to stay intact long after the virus is contained, based on Accenture’s data. With this trend, it is only recommendable that medium to huge enterprises are able to find ways to connect at the local level.

Marketers, creators, and communications professionals were all forced to adapt to the industry’s new normal. Knowing these trends will put brands in an advantage to navigate in the upcoming days.