What Your Customers Want.

Here’s something you might not know about me, I was sent to the Philippines for work, for 3 years in my late 20’s.

This may be news to you, after all it is only Episode 18 of this Podcast, and I don’t think I’ve gone into my personal story all that much.

But if you’ve been following other stuff I’m or the company are doing online .. or if you’re a member of one of our programs – you might of heard part of this before.

I’ll try and keep it short.. My background is in Call Centres. That was my first career. Before that I’d done everything and anything to earn a dollar, from working at local restaurants as a waiter, running food and taking orders… labouring on building sites.. I did a lot of that because it paid well. I worked in food manufacturing factories, night and graveyard shifts also paid well for someone who was 20 or so at the time.
I even did a few month stint in a Subway restaurant. Oh, the good old days. Isn’t it fun to think about how it is you came to be here.. Right now.

Sorry, I’m meant to be keeping this short. I spent 7-8 years in call centres, firstly in Australia. Working my way through the ranks, until I was offered the role to manage and build the company’s new operations in the Philippines.

If you know anything about the call centre industry… you’ll know that Philippines is where it all ends up.
If you don’t know much about the call centre industry, you might of guessed that India is where a career in call centres ends up.,.. But here’s a interesting little fact for you… the Philippines took over India some years back. There you go!

I learnt a very important lesson during my time there in the Philippines. It’s a marketing and business lesson that I still think of and taken action frequently.

The lesson is.. “ everyone, want’s something that they don’t have.”
Of course this is something I’d heard before and probably you have too.
How it hit home for me in the Philippines was very very early in my stay there.

From when I got offered the job, to when I landed in Metro Manila.. (the capital region of the Philippines)… only 10 days had passed. Meaning, from the day I got offered the role in Sydney, to the day I was on a plane for the 8 hour flight, it had only been 10 days.

I knew NOTHING about the Philippines.

I didn’t even know where it was on the map. Literally, and I kid you not… I was reading a Philippines guide book on the plane on the way over…

I saw the map and thought.. Oh, it’s just above Australia and off to the right a little bit.. That’s not too far.
I read a paragraph that said, Philippines was the 3rd largest english speaking country in the world, and it was easy to communicate with everyone… I thought… well that’s lucky! I was also a little disappointed because I knew right then that I wouldn’t be forced to learn a 2nd language fluently (it would’ve been a easy way to learn another language).

My instructions were… land at the airport.. There would be a car waiting for me, holding my name up like in the movies (very cool for a guy in his mid 20’s). The car would take me to the hotel, and the next morning.. The car would take me to the office.

I had a driver! Now that was cool.

I was being driven from that hotel, to the office and picked up… 5 days a week. It was an amazing experience personally, but also professionally. It was equivalent to a Masters of Business Degree in itself.

The first night I arrived, I had to go out shopping. I didn’t have a local sim card yet, or any of that yet. So it was off to the shops.

If you’ve ever been to Manila.. Then you know what Peak Hour is like.. It’s more like Peak Day. 24/7 just chaotic on the street. It’s almost beautiful.. Unless you live there.. Then it becomes just chaotic.

I went found the nearby Mall (the shopping centre) and found the grocery shop. I was buying the essentials, and when it came to Soap.. I had a big problem.

And this is the lesson, that this episode is all about.

Remember what I said before? Everyone want’s something that they don’t have.

I’m talking generally here, like I try to always. Because there is no 100% rule for anything , besides death and change.

Back home in Australia, and a lot of other countries.. .the general agreement is that tanned skinned is preferred over pale white skin.. Right?  Generally…?

Personally I don’t care. But generally… it’s desired. Would you agree?

So imagine the people in the Philippines.. Generally, the average Filipino has a beautiful caramel, brown tan all year round.

So, what happened when I tried to buy soap in the Philippines?

I could not find 1 bar of soap.. Not 1, that did not have “whitening” ingredient in the soap..
Whitening? What !?

I’m in my mid 20’s. I’d been in the country for about 3 hours (2.5 of which was traffic).. And all I wanted is a few bars of soap because the little ones in the hotel run out after a day and I didn’t want to be asking for soap every day or having my room cleaned every day.

Throughout my time in the Philippines I learnt more and more, and deeper about this “issue” I’ll call it. And I’ve heard and seen personal stories of Filipino people that reinforced this same message…
Generally… (again Generally)… the average Filipino wanted to lighten the tone of their skin.
There’s bloody billboard along the main roads, in the streets, tv ads, radio ads, non-stop messages about ‘whitening products’.

Everything from soap, to moisturisers, to lotion, anything and everything that you could apply to your skin… it says “With WHITENING Agent”.

The big corporations had brainwashed everyone to think that they wanted lighter skin too.
95% of people you see in Ads, on the local TV shows, news, movies, etc, have light skin. That message is unavoidable. And I personally think it’s terrible.

There’s a lot of proud Filipino people who love their culture and their skin colour, and that’s great. There’s a lot of youtube clips and Facebook meme’s created by Filipino people that poke fun at the ‘whitening sub culture’ .. which is also great.

So anyway, I’m standing in the soap aisle thinking… is my skin going to turn white? Is this bleach? What the hell is going on?

To be honest, I forget what I ended up choosing, which is a shame. I know I did eventually just find ‘soap’, that didn’t advertise any whitening agents.. So that’s what I used. And anyway.. I’d ended up using them from time to time and it’s not bleach.. It doesn’t really work. Well, not with the one use anyway. And hopefully it doesn’t work at all.

Philippines Whitening Soap.

When I saw stuff like this in the Philippines.. My brain flashed me images of bare semi naked bodies, lined up along Bondi beach… and every other beach in Australian. Hundreds of thousands of people laying out in the sun.. so their skin will turn from lighter, to darker.

Some of them would be pale.. But they wanted to be tanned.

Lots of people in the Philippines, and other parts of the world too.. Have browner skin, and they want lighter skin.

The lesson I took away from this is… people want what they don’t have.

I understand there are deeper concerns and reasons for all this which derives from pure discrimination, but I won’t go into that here. Nor am I qualified too.

  • People who are poor, generally want money.
  • People who are overweight, generally want to lose the excess.
  • People who are hereditarily skinny, want to put on weight.
  • Some girls with really big breasts, want to go down a cup size.
  • Some girls with small breasts, consider AND GET surgery, for bigger breasts.
  • Girls who are Tall, often want to be shorter.
  • Girls who are shorter, usually want to be taller.
  • Celebrities, often try and hide from cameras and lime light, unless they’re promoting their next movie or album.
  • Your next door neighbour.. Posts 400 selfies an hour on Instagram.. Wishing she was a celebrity.

Generally… not 99% of the time… but more than 75% in my experience, people want what they don’t have.
You will see corporations and marketing professionals focusing on this element all day, every day. They focus on the before and after.

They focus on the “now you’re here… but soon you can be THERE”.

I’m also talking about real, genuine, and non-discriminatory / or non-sensitive topics too. If you’re an athlete, the marketing messages you’d be getting are “go from good, to great”. The keep improving message is the same thing.

A good footballer, doesn’t want to be good. They want to be great. They want to be the best. They aren’t happy with being the Captain of the states representative side, they want to go international and play on the world’s stage.

You’ve seen people YOU think are attractive to begin with.. Go and get endless procedures and surgeries.. Until they no longer look naturally attractive.. They were never personally happy. They wanted something else. Not what they ALREADY HAD.   Have you seen these cosmetic surgery stories? 14 procedures later .. and they look more artificial than natural.

It’s an interesting world we live in.

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