Filipino Digital Habits Across Different Generations in the Philippines

Digital Habits of Filipinos

Filipino Digital Habits Across Different Generations in the Philippines

Berns San Juan:  Let’s talk about generations. I mean literally, let’s talk about the different generations. We like to throw around the terminology for boomers, gen-Xers, millennials, and genZ, without really understanding who these people are and what the behavioral differences are between them. These labels offer insights into societal trends, true, and many Filipinos find themselves disconnected from Western-centric narratives around generational characteristics.

So what we wanted to do was talk about what the characteristics of these generations are from the Filipino context because Filipino experiences are shaped by unique cultural and socio-economic factors, right? So in this episode of the Truelogic DX podcast, we’re going to talk about the generational digital habits of Filipinos.

Generational Categories in the Philippines

Berns San Juan: Let’s begin with the different generations. And you know, no offense to my older audiences, you know, boomers. Hi mom. Who falls in that category? But they’re not going to be very digital and so we’re not going to throw a lot of bandwidth when it comes to discussing them as a demographic although we will have a discussion about them within that demographic.

Who are the Boomers?

These are the post-war babies and the pre-martial law babies. So these are the post-war pre-martial law babies. They were born between 1946, happy birthday Mom! And 1964. They should be around 60ish to 78 years old today. So these are your 60 to 78-year-olds as of 2024. And they’re less than 10% of the Philippine population. They should be about 8% of the Philippine population. There are about 9 million of them, according to the Philippine Statistics Office.

The Filipino population will probably hit the 130 mark in three decades with our total population currently at about 116.5 million as of 2023. But boomers grew up in the post-war economics, it was ripe with opportunity. Our circumstances I would say were pretty similar to our Western counterparts at the time. And a lot of people, you know, I think a lot of people still think that that was sort of like the golden age of the Philippines. This is also the generation that saw the Vietnam War, although let’s admit it, culturally that wasn’t such a big deal for us. And they were the pre-martial law generation, right? So again, just to summarize, these are the guys born between 1946 to 1964.


Who are the Gen X?

Let’s talk about my generation, Gen Xers. My favorite generation. If people ask me which generation, if I could choose which generation to have been born into, this is it. Because Gen X saw the switch from analog to digital, right? We were just techie enough that the internet felt naturally native to us and we were not too analog where the internet seemed like magic to us. It was not.

Most of the people who wound up being movers, shakers, and shapers of the internet as we know it today fall within the Gen X category. So, this is us. We were the people who were born between 1965 to 1980. So, that’s a pretty large number, about 15 years. We are approximately 44 to 59. So we are at the right age in our career. We are the most financially stable. We are the most liquid generation. And we make the most decisions at this point. So GenXers were born in a time of political turmoil in the country. We are the Martial Law babies.

We saw, and you know, I’m revealing my age here. I saw EDSA I and EDSA II, I was at World Youth Day, so I saw all of that. As children, we experienced a society with very few regulations. Back in the early 80s, you could go out to a sari-sari store and buy your dad their cigarettes or buy your uncle their beer and not risk going to jail. Now you can’t do that. You can’t send kids to buy adult stuff. I think hip-hop shaped a lot of our generation.

Alternative music shaped a lot of our generation, grunge shaped a lot of our generation. And so, I like that I’m very biased towards music of the ’90s and fashion trends of the ’90s and so on. But like I mentioned earlier, GenXer seemed to have gotten the best of both worlds because we were analog enough to be, we were analog enough to be sentimental about the past. But we were techy enough to transition into digital without really much aversion to change or without much disruption. For us, digitization just felt like moving on to the next better analog, right? Like if that makes sense.

The other thing for us is that by the time social media was introduced, by the time fake news, before fake news entered our vocabulary, we were already in our 30s, right? We were in our late 20s, we were in our 30s, and so we were very familiar with the internet, but it had very little to do with the shaping of our characters.

Who are the Millenials?

Fast forward 15 years and we’re looking at 1981 to 1997. These are my younger cousins. No, I don’t have millennial nieces and nephews, but these are my younger cousins.

Born between 1981 and 1997. And so again, another 15, 16-year period. These millennials are the people who are currently ages 28 to 43. Most of my friends, by the way, are millennials. I just find my Gen X friends too serious. But millennials are about 28 to 43 years old. There are about 24 million Filipinos that fall under the millennial category. There are only 16 million GenXers. So we are double the number of boomers. But there’s only 16 million of us, right? So we’re barely above, we’re just barely above 13% of the population.

But millennials comprise almost a quarter of the population. They’re 22, 23% of the population. So these are the people that grew up in the 90s and the early aughts like the early 2000s. They have now established… I remember the first time I was talking about millennials, these guys were students, right? So I feel like a fossil considering this is just one generation down from me. But I remember 10, 12 years ago when I was doing lectures and millennials were not a strong component in the consumer market because they had not become the backbone of the economy yet.

But today, in 28 to 43, these are the people that are coming into their careers, that are progressing, their pay is increasing, they’re beginning to come into financial security. Some of them will have already achieved financial independence. And so many of these guys, like if I had talked about millennials 10 years ago, many of them would have been single. Today, many of them are married, they’re establishing families, they’re starting to own homes, they’re starting to invest in multiple homes.

Millennials are the children of the OFWs, right? Because this is where… Because boomers and Gen Xers comprise the bulk population of men people that became seamen or OFWs and so on. So a lot of millennials grew up in single-parent households. They don’t have single parents, but one was absentee. A lot of millennials came to their financial independence through the BPO industry.

And so that’s no small feat and a lot of thanks to the BPO industry for lifting a lot of people into the middle class. This is the generation that took the biggest brunt of digital disruption. So these are the guys who probably don’t understand what analog technology is but are very naive when it comes to digital. Gen Xers go online, millennials live online. Right, like that’s a very big difference. If Gen Xers log into the internet, millennials don’t log into the internet, they’re always on it, right? So Gen Xers know how to go to the internet. Millennials live on the internet.

millenial using a laptop

Who are the Gen Z?

Let’s talk about Gen Z, the youngest demographic in this conversation. Anybody younger than Gen Z is probably not an addressable market to anybody listening to this podcast. These are the guys who were born between 1998 to 2010. Notice how it was 20 years for boomers, 15 years for Gen Xers, and 16 years for millennials, but Zoomers or Gen Z people only actually comprise about 12 years, like 1998 to 2010. These guys are a huge range because they are ages 12 to 27 years old. Now, I’m not sure, feel free to disagree, but boomers can be perceived as monolithic, right?

Like when you’re over 60, when you’re a retiree, when you’re receiving your pension, when you’re actively working when you’re just trying to enjoy the best life you have. That tends to be pretty monolithic like people over the ages of 60 and onwards behave pretty similarly. I would say the same thing is true for Gen Xers, right? So Gen Xers 45 to 59, yes there’s still a big diversity of behavior there, but I would largely say the behaviors are starting to become monolithic because we are getting older.

Gen Z, A 12-year-old will not have the same behavior as an 18-year-old who will not have the same behavior as a 26-year-old. Right? It’s drastically different and so this is still a very diverse age group. These guys account for almost half of the Philippine population. Nearly 45 million Filipinos belong to the Gen Z category. Right? That’s A, in my opinion, by the way, that’s not bad news because what that says is that the country continues to benefit from a demographic dividend.

I’m not sure if you guys have heard or paid attention to the news, but the replacement value for populations to be viable is 2.1. The Philippines is closer to 3 than it is to 2. And so we have enough young people to replace the old people that are retiring, like the boomers that are retired, the Gen Xers that are looking into their retirement in about a decade. We have enough Zoomers and Millennials to replace us.

However, Zoomers are the ultimate online generation. If I grew up being minded by a nanny and a Millennial grew up being minded… Or if I grew up being minded by my parents and a Millennial grew up being minded by a nanny, Zoomers grew up being minding their iPads. So different, right? Like different, different, different. These guys practically grew up with social media as their sibling, right? Like they grew up with social media from day one. They’re used to being online to them. Face-to-face interactions feel as natural, or I would say online interactions feel as natural as face-to-face, if not more natural than face-to-face interactions.

Key Behaviors of Each Filipino Generation

Let’s talk about the behaviors of these groups in the Philippines setting.

Behaviors of Boomers

Boomers, these guys have nothing to prove anymore. They are not a great addressable market unless you’re selling a product that is related to a legacy.

So they’re not great target customers unless you’re selling a product related to their legacy, like let’s say a wealth management product or a law firm managing in, or a law firm that does estate management or a family law firm provider that does a last will, and so on, or consolidation of assets and whatnot. Those are for the boomers. If you want to talk about products that address the health of a boomer, you don’t want to talk to the boomer, you want to talk to the GenX children, right?

Like take for example, look at the ads for Ensure. Who’s the endorser? It’s not Ding Dong’s mom. It’s Ding Dong, right? So for products where the boomer is the beneficiary but not necessarily the target audience, you want to address the younger generation. This is also a generation by the way where you know no offense, no shade here, but too old to learn new tricks, and nor do they want to. Like my mom could barely get through an analog Nokia phone much less an iPhone right? I gave her one, but she never used it.

So for her, it’s only used as Skype or Zoom, if she wants to video call someone and that’s it. That’s all the tablet is for her. So if they have not developed any undeveloped digital habits, if they’ve not developed digital habits, it’s unlikely that they will develop anymore. So that’s it for the boomers.

Behaviors of Gen X

Again, I think many of the rebels of the culture are Gen Xers, right? It was a roller coaster of a period. Gen Xers tend to be very anti-establishment, I know I am. They’re a bit unconventional like me. They tend to be very independent. They value work-life balance, but they have a huge appreciation for work. Gen Xers are likely going to be the first people that walk back into an office bringing balloons and a celebration, right?

Like they’re not the ones that are going to demand, oh, can I work from home? Because they’re aging, they are beginning to become creatures of habit. Like they like familiarity, they are starting to look for control, they’re starting to look for predictability, this is what they’re looking for. Their online habits, I would say at best are utilitarian. These are not generations that are looking to bond with an online brand. They’re not looking to bond with an online brand.

They’re looking for the best deal, a great sale, and a functionality that solves a problem. So they go online to solve problems, but they very rarely will go online to satisfy any happiness, or fulfillment requirements. So Gen Xers might be fans of digitalization and they are quick to adopt new habits, but they are also firmly established in their ways. So they already have a certain way of doing things, and it’s hard for them to be swayed into new digital habits.

gen x mentoring another employee

Behaviors of Millenials

These were the kids that came of age when… I would say Gen Xers and Boomers specifically were at the height of their paranoia. These are the kids, this is the allergy generation. This is the generation of helicopter parents and whatnot. And again, I don’t think that’s their fault. I think it’s the fault of overly paranoid Boomers and overly paranoid Gen Xers. These are the kids that didn’t get to play outside as much, that didn’t get to climb trees as much.

But they were very protected, they were pretty sheltered. However, they are pretty optimistic. They tend to be more conventional, I think, than Gen Zers and Gen Xers. I think they tend to be more conventional. They tend to have great relationships with their parents. They value work-life integration. Millennials are great at a seamless… It’s not unusual for a millennial to have their colleagues as their friends. Gen Xers, have a circle of friends and they have their office mates.

Millennials have friends, and they’re either work friends personal friends, or school friends. And so there is a more seamless integration in terms of acquaintances and friends. They are upbeat and opinionated and they can be slightly self-promoting no offense to your millennials and you know a lot of you guys are my friends and they do tend to be more idealistic and I think that is a factor of being young right like more than it is a factor of their generation.

I remember GenXers were idealistic once upon a time. I will proudly say this GenXer is not so idealistic anymore. But millennials are still idealistic and again that’s a function of their age I think more than this their generation. And again, digital adoption is no problem.

Behaviors of Gen Z

New digital habits, no problem. New digital trend, new digital device, no problem. Millennials are practically digital natives, but the true digital natives are the Gen Zs, right?

These guys are passionate, they’re eager, they’re ambitious. They’re amazing at going online and learning new stuff themselves. They spend a lot of time on social. I will say they’re not terrific at face-to-face interactions. And I know based on Gen Z and my family, even if you had a no phone on the table rule, the first person to violate that rule is going to be your Gen Z. They are… Now, I think as a function of society, and this is largely a Western influence, Gen Zs are the most in touch with their mental well-being, which I love by the way. Unusual for me as a Gen Xer, I have always tried to be mindful of my mental health I didn’t see that in Millennials but I see that in Millennials, in Gen Z, in Zoomers. Zoomers seem to be very in touch with their emotional state and they’re not afraid to ask for help. They treat their emotional health like their physical health, right? I think that’s fantastic.

Now, if you take a look at the distribution of statistics, and there’s not a lot of it in the Philippines, but there’s a lot globally, what you’ll notice is that the Gen Z people have a lion’s share of reports of mental illnesses, right? Like depression, anxiety, panic attacks, and so on. But I don’t believe that’s because they’re fragile. I believe it’s because they’re very aware when they feel something and they ask for help or they report it and so on.

gen z using a laptop

Social Media Channels and Platforms of Each Generation

Let’s examine what are the social media platforms each generation uses.

Social Media Platforms of Boomers

Baby boomers. Don’t even try. If they ain’t online, they ain’t gonna be. Right? Like so, boomers, if they’re not online, they’re not gonna be online. There will be a small percentage of boomers that will be online. And these are the boomers with grandkids. They will log into Facebook and they will want to take a look at the photos of the new grandkids.

They’ll want to see the grandkids, they’ll want to see the nephews, they’ll want to see the nieces. But if these guys are not online yet, you’re not going to capture them online. So how do you market to these guys? With boomers, it’s not where you’re at digitally, it’s who you know. You have to network to get to boomers. That’s the best way to get their attention. And then more trade marketing. These are not the guys that are just on Netflix, YouTube, TikTok, and whatnot. So this is not them. They are still… They still support traditional media. And so I will say if you are pushing a product or a service that specifically targets them, no amount of optimization online or Facebook is going to help you attract your boomers. For boomers, it’s who you know.

Social Media Platforms of Gen X

Okay, now let’s talk about GenX, my generation. In 2019, before the pandemic, the most visited website in the Philippines was Facebook. The most Googled term was Facebook. Right? People just typed in Facebook on Google and then they went to Facebook. The most visited website was Facebook and the most used app was Facebook. In 2020, we all got locked down and Facebook got re-thrown and a lot of people went to YouTube. YouTube is the preferred social channel of my generation, Gen Xers.

Whenever I look for content, I’m not looking for snackable content. To me, the longer the podcast, the better. The longer the video, the better. The longer the documentary, the better. I don’t want to switch to new content every 15 minutes, right? Like if I want to look at… If I want to watch a video about astrophysics, if that thing is over an hour, fantastic. If I listen to a podcast, I want that episode to be 45 minutes because I’m a GenXer. I like something very in-depth and focused and I do tend to be more on YouTube than I am on Facebook.

But the channels my generation tends to be in are first YouTube, then Facebook, and then Netflix. So GenX runs to YouTube for DIY stuff. Like if we want to learn a new habit, for example, my brother took up carpentry during the lockdown. His tutorials came from YouTube. That was amazing. And so we tend to like very detailed content, that is very worked through. We’re not looking for snackable content. We’re looking for in-depth engagements. GenXers don’t tend to consume… GenXers do not tend to consume television as much as boomers.

 We were a television generation before. Most of the people that I know don’t even have TV or cable are GenXers. So these are the guys that, these are probably your higher demographic now. So if you’re pushing something to market B, or market A, chances are you’re targeting a GenXer. And again, remember, GenXers are not targeted by short snackable pieces of content. You have to engage them. They will want to look at your product, research it, compare it to competitors, get lured back into your website, make a consideration, maybe wait for a great deal, and then convert. These are the behaviors of GenXers.

Social Media Platforms of Millenials

Now let’s talk about millennials. You know, for better or for worse, this is the Facebook generation. This is the social media generation. Facebook, YouTube, Instagram. These are the channels and the applications that have shaped this generation. Millennials are the pioneers of selfie culture, right? I have to admit, like I am 40… I’m not going to tell you. And I’m horrible at selfies. I’m horrible at selfies.

Facebook page open in a browser

And there are days when I wonder where how this short-armed millennial managed to do a better selfie than I do. I’ve got longer arms. And this is because these guys are experts at it, right? Like they’re amazing at it. A lot of the online content, a lot of influencers, and bloggers are millennials. So they’re great at content creation, they’re great at audience creation. These guys are just amazing at being online.And that’s considering I’m no slouch when it comes to digital, but the way millennials adopt digital is always amazing to me. Whenever I create marketing strategies, I notice that many of my strategies tend to be crafted for millennials because right now they are the mainstream audience. They are the ones with economic power. They are the ones that are earning enough to be able to set aside something for savings and they are liquid enough to buy property and so on.

And so the way I engage millennials is A, it’s classic marketing, right? A, attract their attention, attract their attention. B, keep their attention. And C, get them back, right? Millennials are… I wouldn’t say they’re gullible, but they are the ones that are most responsive to digital marketing. Millennials are the most responsive to marketing.

Social Media Platforms of Gen Z

Now, Gen Z is the age of snackable content. We’re talking Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube. Not just any YouTube, YouTube shorts. So snackable, this is the snackable generation. So a survey done by Morning Consult found that 54% of Gen Zers said they spend at least four hours daily on social media. Also, I would agree that I like Filipino behavior, that’s very true. And a good third of them said they spend more time than that.

The preferred channels for Gen Zers are TikTok, Instagram, and YouTube. However, I think some of the channels that we’re forgetting are Discord and Twitch, right? I think a lot of people pay attention to the big three, whatever the big three, big four, big five social channels are. But I think people are forgetting that hardcore digital millennials and hardcore digital Zoomers are on Twitch and they are on Twitch, they are on Discord, and they are on these different gaming platforms.

So they are in, they are distributed in more channels than everybody else. So how do you talk to these guys marketing messaging-wise? So I just told you, here’s who they are generationally, here’s how they behave online. How do you talk to them from a marketing context? And this is sort of like my wrap-up of this conversation.

platforms for short form videos

Tips on How to Market on Different Generations in the Philippines

Here are some strategies on how you can market these different generations.

Marketing to Boomers

Boomers, don’t try to tug on their heartstrings, they might not understand it, so be very straightforward. Let’s face it, I’m not being rough, boomers ain’t got a lot of time left. So don’t waste their time. Be straightforward, they like being in charge, they like making decisions. These are who boomers are. Are they getting a great deal? Tell them how they’re getting a great deal.

Don’t beat around the bush. Don’t tell them, okay, 40% off, and then if you buy two shoes, don’t do that to boomers. They’ll abandon your cart. That’s not them. If it’s 20% off, they’ll assume everything is 20% off. They don’t want to think about it, they just want to get 20% off. But if you do some of these funky buy one at 10%, get the second one at 20, get the third one at 30, a boomer is not gonna get that. So be very straightforward with your content when it comes to boomers.

Marketing to Gen X

Gen Xers. We will love you or we will hate you. Like that’s it. So don’t be afraid of taking a risk with Gen Xers. By the way, Gen Xers are also the most convertible audience. What I mean to say about convertible audience is, that if a GenXer hates you, you have a 67% chance of being able to turn that GenX detractor back into a promoter. So be willing to take risks with messaging with GenXers, cause guess what? We’re getting old. We feel we’ve earned the right to be judgmental. So we will love you or we’ll hate you. We won’t bear a grudge, but we’ll love your messaging or we’ll hate your messaging, and that’s that.

Do something risky that catches our attention and then see if magic happens from there. Omnichannel works well, by the way, if I were to say anything. Because brick and mortar matters a lot to GenXers, Omnichannel works wonders for us. The consistency of your messaging on trad, digital, and brick-and-mortar creates amazing experiences for us. I mean, look at Apple, right? Their biggest spenders are probably people in my generation. So we appreciate omnichannel marketing like we like having consistent experiences across brick-and-mortar, foot traffic, online, and traditional marketing messaging.

girl talking on the phone

Marketing to Millenials

Okay, millennials date them, right? Like you gotta date millennials. For your brand to like millennials requires brand resonance like a harp. I don’t know, but they require brand resonance. So I think here’s the best example of this. Have you guys noticed how many cult brands there are? Like brands that just become viral, brands that just take off but are not mainstream, right? I can name a few CosRX is an example, right? Cult beauty products, Korean beauty products, right?

In my generation, there were no cult brands, right? If you were a cult brand in the ’80s, Oh, that’s ” Uy, satanista yan!” Today, no! Cult brands are fantastic, right? Like small brands try to be cult brands. They try to build cult followings. And because these brands try to make an emotional connection with their audiences. Because this is how it works with millennials. You must emotionally resonate with them.

So why would a boomer buy a Nike? A, because it was there or B, it was cheap. Like A, it was there, B, it was cheap. Why does a Gen Xer buy a Nike? It was 50% off. Oh, that’s… I got a great… I got a great recommendation from my compadre, right? Like that’s why a Gen X will buy a Nike. Why does a millennial buy a Nike? Right, because the brand resonates with them, right? Because like Nike, they just do it, right? That’s how millennials are. They feel that a brand has to reflect their values and then it resonate with them, which by the way, makes them the most loyal customer base. You are going to get a lifetime value, an incredible amount of lifetime value from a millennial that you’d never get from a Gen Xer and that you’d never get from a boomer.

Marketing to Gen Z

Gen Z is not your best viable market yet. Remember, they’re 12 to 27-year-olds. So the only addressable market you have among Gen Zs are the people that are like 23 to 27. And if you’re going to get their attention, social media is the way to do it. Snackable content, authentic influencer content, app you gotta be willing to embrace relationships with creators, and you have to have a really solid persona that they can relate to because Gen Zers, like the word authenticity, matters more to Gen Zers than any of the generations that I talked to.

So with that good podcast, a long podcast, I want to thank you for joining me on this episode of the Truelogic DX Podcast. Truelogic DX is available on Spotify, Google, and Apple accounts. I hope you had some really good actionable takeaways from this episode. Thank you to our marketing team and our friends at Podmachine for continuing to power these episodes and I’ll see you on the next one. Cheers!

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