As the West goes, so go Filipino consumers online — study

Crocs, Yeezy sneakers, green hair dye, and cryptocurrency are among the trends that piqued the online interest of Filipino consumers following coverage from Western media, according to a study conducted May 2019 to April 2021 by Southeast Asian e-commerce aggregator iPrice Group. 

These trends were observed by tracking the Google search volume of products that became popular in the West after being endorsed by Hollywood brand ambassadors and influencers.  

The study showed that the Philippines had the highest search volume of the focus keywords out of all of Southeast Asia, indicating thsway of Western pop culture over Filipinos versus citizens of neighboring countries. 

CAUSING COMEBACKS AND TRENDS
A product that crossed the ocean to Philippine shores was Crocs, which revived its brand in 2020. In July, the footwear brand collaborated with Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC), causing a surge in their media coverage and sales in the United States. In the Philippines that same month, iPrice saw a 121% spike in Google searches for the shoe brand compared to January. 

Further driving its upward trajectory were collaborations with rapper-songwriter Bad Bunny, celebrity Justin Bieber, musician Post Malone, and actress Priyanka Chopra, all spread throughout the year. This onslaught of Western coverage caused Filipinos’ Google searches for Crocs to peak at 210,000 at the end of the year, a 185% rise from the start of the year.  

Meanwhile, iPrice reported that the jump in search volumes from Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand, and Malaysia weren’t as big. Google searches for Crocs in Indonesia, for example, only reached over 37,000 despite the country having more than thrice the Philippines’ Google population. 

Another product that got attention from both Americans and Filipinos was green hair dye. Thanks to Grammy-winning popstar Billie Eilish, searches in the Philippines rose by 72% after she dyed her roots green and appeared on the cover of Elle magazine in September 2019. 

Each time the green-haired singer released content, Filipinos’ searches would spike. Before March 2020, she appeared on the Oscars and the cover of Vogue magazine, and by that month, iPrice saw searches increase by 141% compared to January.  

As in the case of Crocs, the rest of Southeast Asia didnt Google green hair dye as much as the Philippines did, which iPrice cited as proof of the West’s clout over online consumers in the country. Ms. Eilish was supposed to tour in Manila in September 2020, but the concert was canceled due to the pandemic, a crushing blow to many of her fans in the country. 

THE POWER OF CELEBRITY
When it comes to celebrity influence, Kanye West was also popular among Filipinos. He released his Yeezy Boost 350 V2 Yeezreel sneakers in December 2019, causing a 132% spike in searches compared to January. This also occurred in December 2020, when Yeezy searches rose 37% from the start of 2020 after the Yeezy Boost 350 V2 Bred announcement. 

This kind of effect wasn’t just limited to brands. Cryptocurrency, already a hot ticket all over the world, was mentioned by Mr. West in Joe Rogan’s podcast in October 2020, which grabbed Filipinos’ interest as seen in their Google searches increasing by 53% since. 

In the first few months of 2021, several celebrities drew attention to the digital currency, from mentions by JayZ and Paris Hilton, an announcement of Snoop Dogg’s non-fungible token (NFT) collection, to Tesla purchasing over a billion dollars’ worth of bitcoin. By April, there was a rise in Filipinos’ cryptocurrency searches by 542% compared to October 2020. 

However, it’s possible that cryptocurrencies were already becoming a hot market globally regardless of the celebrity influence. iPrice reported that the search volume for crypto in other Southeast Asian nations was also high. According to iPricethe spikes in Filipinos’ searches coinciding with major media coverage in the West demonstrates the influence of Western pop culture on the country’s online consumer population. — Brontë H. Lacsamana 

 

The Google search volume was taken from Google Keyword Planner, from the period of May 2019 to April 2021. “Crocs,” “Yeezy,” “cryptocurrency,” and “green hair dye” were the keywords used to obtain the search volume. Events from Western influencers were taken from external sources.