Known as the world’s social media capital, the Philippines has stayed up to date with the latest trends. Whether it’s the latest must-have skincare product or cheaper headphones that influencers claim to match the specifications of high-end versions. This phenomenon of buying products promoted on social media earned a rightful term – budol.

While there is no formal definition of “budol,” in its most literal sense, it is being persuaded by another person, to buy an unneeded product. The budol phenomenon has been on the rise since the pandemic forced everyone indoors, where there was little to do besides daily tasks and household chores, and of course, scrolling through social media, as a way of feeling connected.

As expected, Gen Z owned this phenomenon and made their way online to share their newly acquired products.

I Saw It on TikTok: A look at #Budol Culture in the Philippines and what it means for brands

How does this affect TikTok’s growth in the Philippines?

A study by Oberlo discovered that the Philippines ranks  7th in a list of TikTok users by country, with an estimated base of 42.7 million users. This fact, combined with #budol being mentioned at least 203,500 over four months only proves why local businesses and brands should tap into this to grow their audience.

From “I’m never downloading TikTok” to “I saw it on my FYP” real quick

Admittedly, there are a huge number of people who have expressed their apprehension in downloading TikTok, the main reasons are as follows:

  • It’s off-brand for me. It’s only for dance tutorials.
  • I already have musical.ly, isn’t that the same thing?
  • I already have Instagram.
  • I already have lots of social media platforms, and I don’t want any more.
  • It’s not helping my productivity; I spend too much time scrolling on TikTok.
  • It romanticizes my real-life problems and is not good for my mental health.
  • Most of the time, I find TikTok humor problematic

However, by 2022, a study done by Meltwater showed that around 67.9% of Filipinos from ages 16 to 64 consider TikTok as their most-used social media platform, and it ranks as the Philippines’ third most popular social media platform.

How does this affect businesses?

TikTok ads reach up to 34.7% of total male users and around 65.3% of female users in the country – meaning there are more chance of their contacts seeing your ad. It’s a ripple effect! With the magic of a consumer behavior-based algorithm, adding TikTok to communicate with your market can directly affect your campaign’s reach and can lead to more conversions.

The #TikTokMadeMeBuyIt is the predecessor of the budol phenomenon. The hashtag has over three billion views as users share affordable or life-changing products. According to Business Grow, “one of the most popular hashtags and trends of TikTok is all about peer reviews. This simple hashtag reminds us of how we are looking to fellow consumers and peers to show us trusted results, recommend what works and what doesn’t, and help discover new finds.”

See the budol phenomenon for yourself, click the links below to search on TikTok:

But is this budol trend just for Gen Z?

I Saw It on TikTok: A look at #Budol Culture in the Philippines and what it means for brands

According to TikTok’s Creative Center & Analytics, around 67% of the audience that uses #budol or #budolfinds on their platform are around the age range of 18 to 24 years old orGen Z. Millennials come in second with 31%, followed by people aged 35 and over. TikTok is not just for the young but also for the young at heart.

In terms of the keywords associated to the #budol trend, the power players are beauty products and health-related brands.

It’s anyone’s game: You don’t have to be an influencer to influence

In all TikTok history, it has been proven that a person does not have to be popular to gain the power of influencing purchasing behavior. With other social media platforms companies use a formula to recommend content to other users based on their location, who they follow, or what their interests are., By doing this, it is believed that TikTok can give users a more personalized feed experience which explains why For You Pages (FYPs) are unique to the account user.

If someone aspires to be a TikTok influencer, knowing this should only push them to create attention-grabbing, engaging, and fresh content to encourage viewers to watch their videos to the end. Some creators thrive in their own niche, but Philippine TikTokers dominate the game through the budol phenomenon. By playing their cards right, a person who only has a few followers can become an overnight TikTok sensation through their content and influence more people to purchase a certain product.

Unboxing, hidden gems, GRWMs: What works in tech, fashion, personal care, and the cosmetics world?

From a marketing perspective, the budol phenomenon is modern word-of-mouth. Filipinos are so used to flashy commercials and photoshopped bodies that these no longer resonate with them. The TikTok marketing game has shifted into user-approved testimonies, so much so that a review becomes more believable if someone outlines improvements for the brand. Using disclaimers that posts are unsponsored is one-way aspiring TikTokers can start their career as an influencer.

One way that creators have capitalized to garner more views through this budol phenomenon is to trigger their audience’s curiosity, authenticity, and novelty. Here are a few examples accompanied by detailed explanations of what kind of strategies creators use to reel people in to watch their videos:

I Saw It on TikTok: A look at #Budol Culture in the Philippines and what it means for brands

Videos which add text, like the above, seem to attract more views. While the video highlights the product’s novelty, not having Whatever the exact reason is, this video is one of the top results when you search “#budol” on TikTok. The content has already had more than 2.2 million views, over 188,000 likes, and almost 300 comments since November 19, 2022.

It has appeared on users’ For You Pages so much that it reached the brand and received comment from NIIMBOT Official’s TikTok account, further promoting the video.

I Saw It on TikTok: A look at #Budol Culture in the Philippines and what it means for brands

Another strategy being used by creators is to tag on to an already trending soundbite. This ensures that the content that is being repurposed (the sound bite), is already appearing in FYP.

User @glowupwithinah has found success using this technique. This TikTok post alone received 1.7 million views, over 80,000 likes, and at least 800 comments since it was uploaded last September 27, 2022. In the video, she shows before and after photos that ignite curiosity, with a thumbnail that says “tatlo na nagamit ko” (I have already used three tubs), which goes a step further as a testament of the product’s efficacy.  

I Saw It on TikTok: A look at #Budol Culture in the Philippines and what it means for brands

This video of Marj (@marjmaroket) sums up Philippines’ budol culture. The authenticity of the video is seen in the excitement in the user’s eyes, what she wanted the product to do, and even the downsides to using the product – the authentic notes users are drawn to from genuine budol videos are there. The only thing missing is a link that can lead viewers to purchase the product. However, the lack of the product link does not seem to bother Marj’s audience as they continuously interact with each other through her video’s comments section. All in all, Marj’s TikTok review has earned her over 286,000 views, 18,600+ likes, and 149 comments since the video was uploaded last January 16, 2023.

At this point in time, brands, and marketers all over the world can learn a lot from the Philippines’ budol phenomenon.

  • TikTok is the platform for experimentation – for brands or for aspiring influencers.
  • A view can go a thousand miles. With TikTok’s unique approach to brands can rest assured that their videos will be shown to the proper audiences within the same country – those with higher chances of availing their product or service, those who are truly interested in what is being shown to them.
  • The experimental fast-moving nature of TikTok taps into consumers curiosity, project authenticity, showcases novelty and makes brands one step closer to gaining a potential customer.
  • Everyone has the power to influence your audience’s purchasing decisions. Stress less on which big influencer to tap next; try your luck by working with nano-influencers, to see effectively tag on to the budol phenomenon.
  • The statistics do not lie. Although Facebook is still ranks as the third most-visited website and most used social media platform of 2022, people are still on the hunt for a platform where they can stay connected, reveal their truest selves, and see what the market has for them and a lot of them are gravitating to TikTok.

For brands looking for a way to exponentially grow their audience, TikTok is one of the ways to go. Here at Vero, not only are we experts in IMC, B2C communications but we are also experts in leveraging TikTok, among other digital platforms across Southeast Asia.

See more of our capabilities and other related case studies by contacting us today