I'm super excited for 2014 because it's a pivotal year for the Philippines in terms of technology, life stages, and starting a new cycle of business innovations.
When I was giving a talk to entrepreneurs about how I started OAP and related businesses, one person noted that the single most important success factor in my businesses was spotting trends before they peak and acting on it.
For the first time, I'm sharing with you the 11 Biggest Trends in 2014 that would significantly impact and shape the business landscape in the Philippines...
1). Brain Gain (Talent Infusion into Manila)
Still remember the term "Brain Drain"? We are now seeing the reverse happening -- experienced Filipinos trained abroad coming back to Manila to setup businesses, or foreign talents relocating to Manila to make a difference in the Asian market.
When Filipina Tricia McDonald, who worked at London-based Michelin Star Restaurant L'Autre Pied, convinced Chef Carlos Garcia, former chef at also London-based Michelin Star French Restaurant, Gauthier Soho, to go back to Manila together they established a new and exciting concept in the restaurant scene called THE BLACK PIG.
I love Nix Tolledo's article, "LOOKING INTO THE 2014 CRYSTAL BALL" where he concluded:
"2014 is the year technology will sweep us off our feet. With more capital, talent, and technology available in the market, there is an opportunity to build value at an unprecedented scale."
Our Asian neighbors are starting to notice the Philippines and start to incorporate it in their expansion plans. (Read: CIBO di M Private Dining: A Toast to a Booming Manila Food & Dining Scene in 2014!)
Lastly, there's a new breed of Social Entrepreneurs that are being attracted to Gawad Kalinga's Social Enterprise intiative, where the Philippines leads globally in terms of conceptualizing and executing Social Businesses.
Now is the time to learn a new skill to increase your competitiveness, to network and tie-up with foreign talents, or if you are a Filipino overseas worker, to go home and start a new business.
2). Free Independent Travelers (Average Age = 25)
Did you know that the average age of the Philippines is 25 years old? YES, and this is driving a lot of commerce on the internet and increasing consumption of lifestyle products and services.
This also gave rise to a travel segment called "Filipino Free Independent Travelers". They travel by setting up their own itinerary like a backpacker, but live luxuriously and travel leisurely without the need for a travel agency.
In Korea, Filipinos are the 4th largest market in terms of tourism next to the Chinese, Japanese, and the Americans. In Singapore, Filipino travelers are the 5th biggest market. I won't be surprised if Filipinos are the top 1-2 traveler markets for Hong Kong. You'll see a lot of countries now marketing to Filipinos and really acknowledging the Philippines as a source of tourists and not only as OFWs.
For your next lifestyle project, assume that your young target market is well traveled, they look for quality themed executions, and a "Puede na" attitude is Hindi na Puede.
3). ASEAN Integration (Education, ICT, Agriculture, and Tourism)
I'm still surprised that not a lot of Filipino Entreprenuers know about the ASEAN Integration (AEC). The best way to explain it is it is like the EU for South East Asia, minus the currency integration.
The biggest impact of this integration is in four areas: Education, Information and Communication Technologies (ICT), Agriculture, and Tourism. We are now seeing the big four schools (DLSU, Ateneo, UP, and UST) aligning their school calendars with our Asean neighbors by opening in September so that they can also attract regional students and talents.
For me, OAP is positioned to be the #1 food and travel blog not only in the Philippines but also in Asean. If you have a physical product, are your products and prices competitive against our Asean neighbors? What does the ASEAN Integration mean for your business?
- First, start removing the physical country barrier of "just the Philippines" in your mind and think more South East Asian and Global with your new projects this year.
- Second, benchmark your business with other businesses in ASEAN and assess how competitive your business is.
- Third, write a book to make your mark as an author and to define your expertise. A book is the best calling card you'll ever have in the Asean integrated landscape.
4). Unbearable Traffic NakakaBadTrip! (Increase # of Cars + Congested Roads + SLEX ~ NLEX Connector )
It's very cheap these days to get a car -- downpayments and the monthly amortizations are low. Every 25-year old Filipino wants to have a car to have the freedom to travel anywhere, not to mention having one as a status symbol in itself.
The problem is there are no new roads that are going to be built. There are no new trains or subways being planned in the metro. The killer would be when the SLEX-NLEX Connector project is constructed and if the elevated 4-lane sky way along EDSA is approved.
Coupled with crazy weather patterns, just imagine the traffic in the Metro for the next 3 years.
- Considering the scenario above, think of projects that would be successful as the traffic worsens in Manila.
- Anticipate the migration of the people in the New South: the Nuvali Sta. Rosa area. Are there businesses that you can setup now before the population migrates?
5). E-Commerce Roar (as Internet/Mobile Penetration reaches 50%)
As the Internet Penetration increases from 30% to 50% in the next 3 years, we are seeing the boom of E-commerce sites in Manila. Yes, the Philippines is still in the infancy stage when it comes to E-Commerce, but thanks to deal sites such as Groupon, Zalora, and Lazada, Filipinos have started to trust the internet a little bit more.
The additional internet penetration will actually come from increase in mobile broadband usage which will make more Filipinos connected.
With the increase in traffic for the next few years, wouldn't you want to just shop online?
This is the best time to start your own online store project where you'll still have that wild, wild west landscape. The E-Commerce revolution in Manila starts now in 2014!
6). Year of the Podcast? (Creating Your Own Show)
( Image credit: so47 / 123RF Stock Photo )
The trend for online businesses is to create your own platform and the best way to do that in 2014 is to start your own show -- a podcast, a video channel, or a mobile show. Attention is getting to be a very limited resource and a more experiential viral platform is needed to grab attention these days.
In a recent article, "TV Is Dying, And Here Are The Stats That Prove It" concluded:
"People who are unplugging from both cable TV and broadband internet are likely going to free wifi.
So if fewer people are watching cable TV and fewer people are paying for Internet service, does that mean that we just don't care about watching our favorite shows anymore?
Free wifi — at work, in coffee shops, and on campuses — is making it easier for consumers to get the shows, movies, and videos they want without subscribing to any kind of cable or broadband service."
There is a shift on how entertainment is delivered via on-demand, cloud services. This is where your own show would come in.
Start your own show this 2014!
7). Blogging is Dead (Is it really?)
Yes, blogging as we know it is dead. Blogging used as an online diary is dead becaused it's already been replaced by social media alternatives -- Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, SnapChat, or WeChat.
In an article by Jason Kottke entitled, "The blog is dead, long live the blog", he concluded:
"So, R.I.P. The Blog, 1997-2013. But this isn’t cause for lament. The Stream might be on the wane but still it dominates. All media on the web and in mobile apps has blog DNA in it and will continue to for a long while. Over the past 16 years, the blog format has evolved, had social grafted onto it, and mutated into Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest and those new species have now taken over. No biggie, that’s how technology and culture work."
If you have a blog now, or wanting to start your own blog still, there are three things that you need to focus on in 2014:
1) Story Telling Skills - You need to build your skills on how to tell a good story that grabs attention through heart-to-heart conversational writing, photo essays, or via video.
2) Your Mailing List - One of the key differentiators of OAP versus other blogs is that I have a very strong mailing list where OAP readers can opt-in to receive my full blog posts every day. Yes, I still need to share my posts in social media but I'm assured that my message would reach my OAP friends. :)
3) Build Your Platform - A blog is the conversational component of an overall messaging strategy. A blog format is still good for its archival nature where you can search through the years of blog posts and be able to refer to each individual post when needed.
Make sure to develop a book, build your YouTube channel, and strengthen your social media touchpoints with your audience.
8). iPhone & iPad Rule!
iPhone and iPads are outselling computers and now is the time to develop a mobile-first strategy for your business.
Mobile Penetration in the Philippines is 45% for ages 18-34, and 38% for ages 35-54. Google Philippines predicts that mobile will be the dominant communication at the end of 2014.
Define your mobile strategy for 2014. Google provided mobile analytics data in a free service called: Our Mobile Planet. Start to mine the data for insights for your strategy.
9). Empowered Filipino Teens
I'm excited about the Filipino Teens...they are the digital natives. It's so easy for them to shoot, edit, and create their own videos using an iPad to the amazement of their parents.
They are a product of the proud generation of Filipino parents who remain optimistic about the Philippines and value what it really means to be a Filipino.
This teen generation is hungry to learn and their parents are teaching them important lessons on financial management, entrepreneurial spirit, Filipino values, and love for the country.
They are the generation that would benefit a lot from what we are doing today and the reason why we do what we do.
They are both the inspiration and the hope of the Philippines as we strive to become a First World country, hopefully in our lifetime.
Think of ways on how can we contribute to the overall education, and development of the Filipino teens.
10). The Battle for the Filipino Palate
The Filipino Palate is getting more educated with the introduction of the different restaurant concepts in Manila and being more exposed to traveling abroad.
Take the Ramen Craze for example, where Manileños were introduced to various high quality ramen last year. Foodies are more knowledgeable on the subject now, and can say what constitutes good ramen versus a bad one, and even tell what region in Japan a particular ramen came from.
The prices of food are also increasing, which is both good and bad. Good in a sense that there's now a market for higher quality ingredients and services, resulting in high-end restaurant brands and celebrity and Michelin Star chefs investing and setting up shop in Manila. It's bad because the cost of dining out is going up and foodies will be more demanding of the quality of food and services they pay for.
Now is the time to introduce crazy concepts, innovative food, and alternative dining options to the Manila market.
11). The Young 40's: In Search of a Legacy
This is a delicate subject as our generation reaches the mid-life point and passes the 40's life stage.
It's a new world for most of us as we contemplate on the first 40 years of our life. We shift gears towards leaving a lasting legacy for the future generation of Filipinos.
It will create a new lifestyle of making meaningful choices and saying "YES to the BEST".
The companies that can address this new lifestyle will win 2014 and beyond.
Hope you like my New Year's Gift to all of you -- my OAP friends -- who supported us throughout the years.
I do hope that this article ignited the entrepreneurial fire in you so that together, we can kickstart the Filipino Entrepreneurship Revolution and push the Philippines towards achieving First World status in our lifetime. :)
If you are inspired by this article, please share this with your family and friends.
Live an Awesome Life,
P.S. More than ever, it's crucial that we select the right President to lead us in 2016!