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Sales and sunscreen

DOUBLE-DIGIT sales days and sunscreen are on the minds of Southeast Asians, at least according to Zalora’s 2022 trend report.

In the 70-page Southeast Asia Trender Report 2022 from e-commerce platform Zalora of the Singapore-based Global Fashion Group (GFG), it cites data from the World Bank that the inflation rate in emerging and developing economies (a category to which the Philippines belongs) increased from 4.23% to 9.37% in April last year. But it also cites Ascential Digital Commerce which says that e-commerce sales in Southeast Asia were projected to grow by 18% last year, reaching up to $38.2 billion.

“Alluding this significant growth to a mass exodus to digital platforms (with much thanks to the pandemic), a new shopper-brand and shopper-retailer relationship has been formed,” said the report. Though purse strings are being tightened due to inflation caused by the Ukraine-Russia conflict and recovering economies from the COVID-19 pandemic, some spots of hope are seen in online retail from increasing internet use, as well as reopened borders.

This is connected to increased internet connectivity within the region. “In Southeast Asia, communities — even those in remote and rural areas — have become digitally connected, with some turning down desktops in favor of mobile phones,” said the report.

The report estimates that 100 million new internet users have come online in the last three years. A graph in the report shows that the Philippines saw an increase of 48% in those who bought from online retailers compared to before the pandemic, and an increase of 50% in those who buy from chat groups. The same graph shows that 54% of Filipinos have adopted digital wallets compared to before the pandemic.

But what are we buying? In data provided by GFG’s trend report, the Philippines’ top search words are: sports lifestyle shoes, sports performance shoes, sandals and flip-flops, dresses, and sneakers. Contrast this with the number one search term in Singapore (sling bags) or in Malaysia (dresses). In a nod towards relaxed travel restrictions, there has been a 440% increase in Google searches for travel requirements. Across the region which Zalora services (Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei, the Philippines, Hong Kong, and Taiwan), the customer demand growth at Zalora for sunscreen increased to 8% in 2022 from 3.096% in 2021. A similar scale measuring for swimwear saw an increase to 4% in 2022 from 1.862% in 2021.

Sales of popular items also increase during popular double-digit sale days. Zalora reports that its end-of-year mega campaign days have six times the number of sales as compared to a typical non-campaign day. “Such is the case for Zalora, whose shopping events saw the highest number of sales versus any other day during 2022,” it said.

In another nod towards increased travel, the report says, “But what’s also interesting here is that sales towards the end of April (2022) far exceeded any other time of the year. This uptick could be explained by the ease in COVID-19 restrictions across the region — since late March, most Southeast Asian countries have already relaxed their travel restrictions, including Malaysia, Singapore, and Indonesia.” (Still, the report suggests that travel levels will only fully recover to pre-pandemic levels by this year or the next).

The report seeks to explain why double-digit sales festivals — think 10-10 (Oct. 10), 11-11 (Nov. 11), 12-12 (Dec. 12) sales) — work: “With special appearances by celebrities and endorsements by popular content creators, these events combine the best of entertainment and retail under one platform. As a bonus, consumers tend to spend more time online and are more inclined to discover new brands. These shoppers would also be more likely to explore new product segments, given the promotional discounts.”

“Now all that’s left is for them to make a purchase.” — JL Garcia

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