Usually a title like that means you will get a pithy answer, but since we don’t know the answer I’ll just share the question and you can offer your own answers. I stumbled on the question while doing market testing for Wahanegi. It may be important, or maybe not, but at least it is somewhat interesting.
We are doing experiments advertising four different angles on the product design to see which ones garner the highest click-thru and conversion rates – I have a gut feel already, but the experiments are a quick way to validate/refine that feeling by seeing and responding to what real people actually click on. I wanted to play around a little before we spent much money on the experiments since there is no ‘how to’ guide about how to use Facebook ads for this purpose. So we advertised at well below market rates for a few days just to see what happened.
Well, it turns out that if you advertise “how to be happy” products in English at ten cents a click on Facebook, then you’ll get a few Indonesian eyeballs but the vast majority of your impressions and clicks are going to come from the Philippines. I suppose this is partly a function of huge inventory – Filipinos are the world’s #1 users of Facebook according to ComScore at over 90% penetration, and with ~100 million people they have the third largest number of English speakers in the world after the US and India. It is also certainly due to lack of advertiser competition for eyeballs with little money in their pockets – the Philippines don’t even show up on the Economists’ back page stats despite being the 12th largest country in the world, which I suppose is what happens when you have the 120th highest GDP per capita, right there with Honduras, Iraq and India (which has 10X the population and is a former British colony to boot, so the Economist pays attention).
I’ve liked every Filipino I’ve ever met…I can’t say that of any other people, not even the Irish or Canadians, so that’s something. But I never thought of the Philippines as a great market for Wahanegi, in part because of the GDP thing, but also because I’d assumed Asian collectivist cultures and Anglo individualist cultures would have some strong biases when it comes to pursuing happiness. That may still be the case, we’ll see.
Regardless, Filipinos are who showed up, so I took what we got and did some investigation.
First, I saw that the hypotheses about gender and age were strongly supported by the Filipino data. In general, women were most likely to click, especially those 35 to 54-years-old. The largest number of clicks came from women aged 18-24, but that was because they generated a lot of ad impressions. On the other hand, men were much less likely to click, especially the 18 to 34-year-old variety. Don’t get too cocky, ladies, as all was not lost on men, at least not those of us in the 35 to 44-year-old cohort, who were as likely to click as our similarly aged sisters. Click-thru rates for the most interested groups were in the range of 0.08 to 0.13 percent, versus around 0.03 percent for the least interested groups.
As I was digging around, I noticed something statistically troubling. The difference in interest between Indonesians and Filipinos was almost as large as the difference in interest between young men and middle-aged women (please, no jokes about cougars and such…oops, I guess that was a joke about cougars and such). In other words, there was a significant difference between the two archipelagos. Click thru rates for English-speaking Indonesians overall were around 0.05% versus 0.075% for Filipinos. That was particularly curious since our logo was designed by a young Indonesian man from Bali. Not sure why there was such a big difference, it may be due to the relative level of English skills, or many, many other things.
However, I was on the trail of online Filipino happiness, not cultural comparisons of populous Pacific archipelagos. For help I turned to the research arm of our modern-day oracle, Google Insight. How much difference could there be between countries when it comes to happiness, and what would their search patterns show?
Guess which people in the world are most likely to type the word “happy” into Google? Yep, Filipinos. What about “happiness” or “how to be happy” or “being happy”? Yep, it’s those Filipinos again. And they’re most likely to include the word “quotes” in their searches, too. So I guess a lot of Filipinos are looking for happiness quotes, who knew?
This was a little spooky for me, so I did some more poking around trying to find something where my beloved US would show up in the top rank. Fortunately, that wasn’t too hard. Taking a clue from the fact that Americans were #2 after the Filipinos for “being happy” searches, I quickly found that Americans are more likely to type “happier” into Google than the people of any other nation. Then I checked “depressed” for completeness…and sure enough, USA, USA, usa, usa… I also tested the words wealth (Uganda), intelligence (India), creativity (Kenya), strength (Trinidad), entrepreneurship (Tanzania), sadness (Lebanon) and healthy (USA). One take away: Go Africa! The other: Buck up America! The third: What is up with Filipinos, and how do I get some?
So. I am pretty sure that the gender and age biases seen in the Philippine data will also be true in the US and other Anglo countries, but I am also pretty sure the interest levels in the specific product ideas will be quite different across countries. Luckily, I believe there will be real interest, and as evidence, I’ll leave you with this graph comparing a few worldwide “how to be” searches on Google over the past 12 months: