An exclusive marketplace for local brands
Working with social enterprises for years allowed us to see their potential to create more impact and reach their market more effectively.
A common refrain all of us often hear is that we need to support our local brands. Whether with small crafts enterprises or similar events in the cultural sector, we are taught that extending our support to these brands is a tangible way of helping enrich the local industry. Yet there is a conundrum—the fact that we are hearing this refrain so often means that, unfortunately, it has not yet become the norm.
Multiple years of working with these enterprises and promoting them (whether with larger endeavors or personal projects) demonstrates to us that there is no lack of high-quality and innovative products in the country. More importantly, operation-wise and marketing-wise, there is no lack of effort on their part to grow their endeavors.
A shared passion for local products
Alternative started with this seed of an idea: though these local brands have already successfully identified and worked towards their marketing and promotion goals, there might still be ways to further increase their reach and impact. We noticed, along with some of these brands, that the first hurdle was already cleared—there were already people interested. However, these expressions of interest were mostly singular, meaning, only one product at a time, only one brand at a time.
Though it is beyond our scope to change the purchasing habits of people, we hypothesized that we can make it beneficial for everyone by having the two parties (the enterprises and their customers) establish more convenient ways to reach one another.
Working with different strengths
Alternative, in its current form, was a product of that hypothesis. It is an e-commerce site that features local enterprises that can be categorized under what we believe is the ideal standard: high quality, impactful, and Filipino. These brands with their products, Hi-Fi as we called them, captured what we believe to be exemplary models of local ingenuity.
The rationale behind the categorization was that we wanted to normalize the perception that all of these products were excellent. Alternative, in a way, was also a play on the idea that these are products you can use as “alternatives” to those that you already own, with the promise that they are on par or even better than your current item. To further maximize this, we worked with the brands to curate a variety of kits that would fit different personalities. These kits comprised of products from different brands, carefully curated to fit different lifestyles such as the Muni-muni for the adventurous types and the Paraluman for artistic individuals.
We curated six kits filled with products from different Hi-Fi brands. Each kit is hand-picked with our recommended products that would suit the different lifestyles of our customers. From travellers to young professionals, we've got a kit for everyone.
We invited our brand partners to celebrate Alternative's media launch. During the intimate gathering we asked Pat Sarmiento, the founder of conscious Canvas, to share her story of how she was amazed by the award-winning Filipino para-athletes.
Banking on the brands
The most crucial aspect of this endeavor was establishing genuine partnerships with the local brands. We met with their founders and their teams, and their different backgrounds and experiences led us to explore different collaborative relationships with each of them. For some brands, for example, we co-developed products that we both thought would be a good synergy of expertise.
It was in this process that we recognized an important truth: we worked with these brands mostly because we truly believed in their stories. These were excellent products, yes, but these are also stories and advocacies that we believe everyone should get to hear. We share common ambitions and believe in our partners' work—the local craftsmen and women of Woven, for example, as well as the para-athletes and the PWDs who coordinate with Conscious Canvas. These stories, then, are vital parts of these local brands.
These were excellent products, yes, but these are also stories and advocacies that we believe everyone should get to hear.
Seeing stories come to life
The commonly-used phrase “tangkilikin ang sariling atin” is not just about bringing forth some random faith in the quality local products. When we take a look at local marketplaces and small industries, whether in Alternative or elsewhere, we do not merely see products. We see stories. We see reasons to believe, and we see reasons to take the next step in honing Alternative as a way to keep supporting these brands.
AcknowledgementsAIM Dado Banatao Incubator