“Tawad naman, suki!” This phrase can be usually heard in wet and dry marketplaces in the Philippines. Shoppers often use this term to get a discount on what they are buying. The culture of tawad or haggling is part of the typical Filipino market scene. No matter how much the price of a certain product is, we always ask for tawad.
Little did we know, it affects small businesses. Sellers do not get the whole amount of money we pay in exchange for a certain product. They can only get a small amount of profit while most are their capital. They are only getting so little from the payment they receive.
Loss of small business owners
Have you seen someone bargaining for a product at malls? Of course not. Giant businesses do not engage in haggling which is why they continue to get richer. They have a fixed price and that is it. Buy it or leave it.
On the other hand, small businesses’ products or services can mostly be haggled with. The price can depend upon negotiation between the buyer and the seller which is clearly a loss of the business. Sometimes, when the buyer is good at tawad, the seller only gets ten percent of what the original price is.
Imagine if half of the customers haggled for the amount of half of the profit of the business. Average-earning Filipinos prefer to buy in public markets where tawad culture is normalized. Yet, we should also keep in mind that a certain business could be the only source of income for their families.
Products are personalized
Especially during the quarantine period, a lot of small online businesses emerged. From foods and beverages to clothing and accessories, everything can be bought through social media platforms. These online stores are mostly small businesses or resellers that personally prepare their products.
Paying for staff is beyond their budget. They are both the owners and employees of their businesses. They, themselves, made all those thank you cards or personalized wraps attached to our orders.
Unlike the owners of big businesses that profit without overseeing all the products directly, small business owners pour blood and sweat into their items. Haggling the price of their goods is haggling for their hard work.
Always less than big businesses
Small businesses are like giant businesses but lack in many things. They both have owners, manpower, resources, and the same goal. However, they differ in terms of the amount of all their similarities. By this logic, we should treat both businesses the same. Those branded products started as amateur ventures.
Also, a lot of conglomerates in the country are owned by foreign investors. Meanwhile, most small businesses in the Philippines are owned by locals. Support local as they say. However, we can only put it into practice by purchasing their products at the price they set.
The culture of tawad has been a part of our lives for as long as we can remember. Hence, it has also been affecting the profit of small businesses since. It may only seem a few but refusing to participate in the tawad culture can go a long way. Who knows, maybe it could help upgrade small businesses.
Angelo has always been interested in photography and writing. He has been participating in various photography-related events since high school. Street photography is his most favorite type as he believes that this is where life is the most candid - where inequality, denigration, love, and hope coexist everyday. One day, he aspires to be an environmental photojournalist that does his part for a better world.