The overall pet industry in Thailand is worth $2.8 billion and it is expected to continuously grow at a 10-15% rate per year. Pet food is the largest segment in the overall pet industry in Thailand and makes up 45% of the industry’s value.

Asian Trends in Pet Food and Health; Euromonitor  2017

Out of the 1,015 survey respondents ecommerceIQ has commissioned in August, we have found that 65% of them keep more than one pet.

Let’s dive into what we found out about Thai’s pet food buying behavior.

Kind-Hearts Get Thais More Pets

With the increasing number of singles, married couples without children, and an overall aging society, the pool of pets owners in Thailand is growing faster than ever.

40% of 65 million people in Thailand are working-class singles. An average Thai family now bears only 1.6 child per family even though the government recommends 2.1 children per family to prevent the country from becoming an aged society. Inability to provide the best for their children, whether it is education, safety, or financial stability, is among the most popular reasons why Thais are refusing to give birth to a child. This is why many rather choose to keep pets instead. More often than not, Thais refer to their pets as ‘Luk’ which means baby or child. This shows that they regard their pets as their children that they do not have.

Among the 65% of the respondents who keep more than one pet cited that they want pets to keep each other company. Being a Buddhist society, more than 35% of the respondents keep more than one pet because they do not have the heart to see them being astray.

The reasons why Thai respondents keep more than one pet; ecommerceIQ Pet Food Survey Thailand 2018

Thais are Pet Pleasers When It Comes to Food

Dry food has become the most popular pet food type among Thai pet owners as 40% of them said that they feed their pets with dry food. This does not come as a surprise since dry pet food has many advantages. It doesn’t need to be stored in a refrigerator and it lasts all day, which is important to pet owners who are not always at home. They can simply leave dry pet food for their pets for whenever they feel hungry.

There are also health advantages to dry food. According to Pedigree, dry pet food has distinct benefits for your pet’s oral health. Chewing kibble helps to keep their teeth healthy by reducing plaque and tartar buildup, also resulting in better breath.

While 31% give pets a mix of pet food because they believe that each type of pet food provides different nutrients and has different benefits.

The types of pet food Thai pet owners use; ecommerceIQ Pet Food Survey Thailand 2018

Regarding pets as their children, Thais are willing to choose the best food for their pets. This explains why 22% of respondents say that product quality is the most important factor when buying pet food.

While the second factor depends on pet’s preference, meaning that food types and brands are selected based on the liking of their pets, this factor will continue to be the reason why Thai pet owners change pet food sometimes. It is reflected that 32% of the respondents change pet food when their pets refuse to eat or grow bored with the current food.

The factors that Thai respondents consider when choosing pet food; ecommerceIQ Pet Food Survey Thailand

The Pet Food Industry in Thailand isn’t Betting on Ecommerce Yet

For a country with high Internet penetration and familiarity with ecommerce like Thailand, it is surprising to learn that only 14% of the respondents are currently buying pet food from online channels, with 74% of those buying from online marketplaces, such as Lazada and Shopee.

One would think that pet food, given its bulkiness, purchasing frequency, and lower risk, is a perfect category to triumph in the online space. However, Thai respondents are too comfortable with buying pet food at the pet food shop or supermarket that they did not see why they should switch to buy it online.

Since cheaper product price is the factor that Thai online shoppers value the most, according to the ecommerceIQ E-Marketplace Survey Thailand 2018, discounts and promotions offered through marketplaces are a good incentivized motivation for them to start buying pet food online.

Brands can also implement an e-sampling strategy which will allow consumers to get a free sampling product and learn whether their pets will like the food or not. This is also beneficial to the brand because consumers will be willing to provide the brand with their personal data, in return for the sample-sized pet food. Brands may also use this information to customize and target the communications strategy towards their potential online shoppers in the future.

Through the e-sampling service of aCommerce, Mars Petcare in the Philippines successfully rolled out an e-sampling campaign that was able to gain awareness on social media organically; aCommerce.

How else can pet food brands increase their online capability? Sign up to receive ecommerceIQ’s report on the pet food industry in Thailand here.

Earlier this year, Amazon partnered with the Vietnam Ecommerce Association (VECOM) to provide ecommerce services for local online businesses under VECOM. They also held numerous workshops for sellers, the latest one being in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, called Selling Globally on Amazon.

Similarly, Alibaba-backed AliExpress has been looking to sign up more Vietnamese sellers on its platform since July as it teams up with OSB Investment and Technology JSC to support international exports by Vietnamese small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

Why Vietnam?

Vietnam is one of the biggest exporters in the world, ranked at number 28 out of 225 countries at $214 billion of export value in 2017. Based on 2016’s exports data, Vietnam’s main exports are machinery products, textile goods, and footwear and headwear products.

Figure 1: Vietnam’s amount of exports and its categories in 2016; OEC

Vietnam has become a manufacturing hub with one of the lowest minimum wages in the ASEAN region at $147 to $167 per month (Figure 2). Expanding infrastructure for new projects and a rapidly increasing working age group have promoted low-cost mass-production with many global companies establishing manufacturing bases in the country.

Global companies are benefitting from low production costs but local businesses also have access to ready-to-sell goods at competitive prices. In Vietnam, some 600,000 SMEs are searching for appropriate channels to expand their market share. Ecommerce offers this opportunity from the comfort of their homes.

Figure 2: Minimum wage in ASEAN for 2017; World Economic Forum, Philippines’ National Wage and Productivity Commission, The ASEAN Post

As in all other developing countries, ecommerce in Vietnam is mushrooming. Statista forecast annual growth at 16.8%, higher than Thailand (12.8%) and Indonesia (13%). However, the Vietnamese market is small and still in its infancy. Therefore, the international market offers economic opportunities for local retailers.

Vietnamese merchants are attracted to global e-marketplaces which access customers searching for a broader variety of products and enable international sales at low cost. Online merchandising boosts sales while mitigating the risks of the local economic downturn.

AliExpress executive Yang Ninh commented, “Vietnam, as one of the most diverse manufacturers in the world, is an important destination for Alibaba.”

Comparing between Amazon and AliExpress

To know which platform suits Vietnamese sellers, we compared the specifications of the two platforms in the table below.

Amazon

AliExpress

  • 2.435 billion monthly visits at an average of 6 minutes per visit
  • Most Amazon customers have a high annual income (above $30,000)
  • Visitors are mainly from the Americas, Australia, Western Europe, and South and East Asia (Figure 3)
  • Available in different languages with localized websites in the US, UK, and Japan
  • Monthly subscription fee of $39.99 for those selling over 40 items per month – professional plan or per-item fee of $0.99 for each item sold – individual plan
  • Referral fee of 3-45% of total sales price or a $1 applicable minimum referral fee, whichever is greater, depending on the product category
  • Shipments completed either by sellers using courier services from providers like UPS, DHL and local post or fulfillment by Amazon
  • 549 million monthly visits at an average of 8 minutes per visit
  • Most AliExpress customers have lower annual income (below $30,000)
  • Visitors are mainly from the Americas, Australia, Europe, Asia, and a few African countries (Figure 3)
  • Available in different languages such as French, Spanish, and Korean serving over 200 countries
  • Annual service fee of at least $1,436 (RMB 10,000) and 5-8% seller commission; amount depends on the product category
  • Annual service fees are eligible for 50% and 100% discount if sales reach a certain amount depending on the product category
  • Shipments completed either by sellers, AliExpress or other delivery companies

Figure 3: Where visitors of Amazon (top) and AliExpress (bottom) are located and their average income; Alexa

Whether Vietnamese sellers choose Amazon or AliExpress depends on the target market

Those selling high-end, expensive products may prefer to sell on Amazon because site visitors have higher purchasing power and the majority hail from developed countries. Those wishing to target consumers in the Americas may also prefer Amazon which has a stronger top-of-mind awareness in the region.

Conversely, AliExpress offers Vietnamese sellers a wider global customer base. AliExpress has a more extensive global presence (Figure 3), with site visitors to the platform spending on average 2 minutes longer than at Amazon.

However, the annual service fee at AliExpress is higher than Amazon. Sellers with limited funds or those just starting out might be better to opt for Amazon which also offers different pricing plans for individuals and professionals. Meanwhile, AliExpress discounts annual service fees for retailers if they manage to attain the required annual sales specified for particular categories. This offers value for those selling hundreds or thousands of items.

Vietnam has many local ecommerce players, providing sellers with alternative options for domestically growth. However, reliance on these e-marketplaces alone is not sufficient for Vietnamese sellers to tap international customers.  Listing on either or both of the AliExpress or Amazon platforms offers the most realistic opportunity to maximize sales.

The ecommerce world today is all about data. It’s not a nice-to-have but rather a must-have. Why? Because the richer the data, the better the decision brands make.

Collecting data is easy when brands have their own ecommerce website or what we call 1st party data. Some channel partners do share their data to a certain extent, that’s called 2nd party data. The 3rd party data, which is a set of data collected from sources by a company that isn’t directly involved in the transaction, will help brands drive successful action and increase their ecommerce sales.

Types of data in today’s ecommerce world; BrandIQ

Brands in Southeast Asia are accustomed to ‘surveyed data’, but have a limited amount of data from online marketplaces, so much so that it is insufficient for them to craft a successful online marketplace strategy.

BrandIQ is envisioned to provide brands in Southeast Asia with measurable data and actionable insights for their online commerce strategy. Using sophisticated ecommerce data collection and proprietary machine learning technologies, BrandIQ will empower brands to monitor online merchandise, analyze competitors, offer better promotions, understand consumer sentiments, and improve the overall ecommerce experience.

When 4Ps is not enough. BrandIQ Analytics will be able to provide brands the data and insights across 9Ps; BrandIQ

At Okura Prestige Bangkok, three brands – Beiersdorf, Kimberly Clark, and L’Oreal, were brought together by BrandIQ to discuss and share their experience about the growing influence of data usage and user-generated reviews.

From left: aCommerce’s Group Director of Product, Poonpat Wattanavinit as the moderator, and panelists: Praponsak Kumpolpun, Senior Ecommerce Manager, L’Oreal CPD Thailand, Aviroot Prasitnarit, Sales Director – Kimberly Clark Thailand, and Phunnapa, Limtansakul, Senior Ecommerce Manager SEA – Beiersdorf Thailand

This is what was discussed:

Keep your Friends Close, Your Enemy Closer

By having an understanding of your competitor’s movement, brands can gain a significant advantage to help guide its own pricing and marketing strategy.

Tracking your competitor can be easily done offline, especially the price. Brands can simply send an intern to take note of the price. In the country’s FMCG industry, prices change every two weeks. Online channels? Every minute.

“Unlike offline, monitoring our competitors’ online movement is extremely challenging. Promotions are constantly changing and without a proper tool, it is impossible for a human to keep up,” says Aviroot Prasitnarit, Sales, Kimberly Clark. “My team once woke up to a surprise that our competitor could perform really well overnight because of its flash sales at 10 PM. None of my team members was standing by to track that.”

Being in the competitive FMCG industry, Kimberly Clark aims for a double-digit growth. Therefore, taking up more market share from its competitor is very important to Aviroot. So when it comes to price, Aviroot suggests keeping friends close, enemies closer.

In addition to direct competitors, brands should also be aware that grey sellers on the online marketplace can be a threat. According to BrandIQ, 35% of e-marketplace sales happen through grey sellers. This should raise a concern among brands because not only can grey sellers take away your share on an online marketplace, brands will not be able to create a unified brand experience.

Because at the end of the day, consumers will not differentiate if the sellers are grey, authorized or official. They will perceive it as one brand.

The New Rising Star: Nano Influencer

Besides price, reviews and ratings are also important for L’Oreal Thailand where the cosmetic industry is a “Red Hot Ocean”, according to Praponsak Kumpolpun, Senior eCommerce Manager, L’Oreal CPD Thailand.

“Thailand has many strong local beauty brands that are 40-50% cheaper than L’Oreal with roughly the same quality. So monitoring 4Ps (Price, Product, People, Place) is not enough.”

BrandIQ also found that the FMCG category has almost 70,000 reviews with most comments regarding the quality and speed of delivery. This is because FMCG has a “need it now” characteristic, making consumers very sensitive to delivery lead-time.

The number of reviews versus % of reviews that are about delivery across the categories on Thailand’s leading online marketplace; BrandIQ

Aviroot also added that a survey conducted by his team revealed that commercials on televisions are not convincing for consumers today. 80% of respondents also say they’d rather listen to recommendations of their friends and family. This is where the concept of nano influencers comes in.

Influencer marketing is not new in Southeast Asia. Around 40% of companies’ social media advertising spending has been allocated to influencer marketing in Thailand, up from 15% three years ago. Thailand, being the home to 57 million active Internet users, consumers are fairly familiar with social media. Seeing the success of established influencers and bloggers in the industry, many could not help but aspire to be one, in hope to enjoy the perks brands offer; overseas trips, free products, and a large amount of side income.

The trend to become influencers made the social web of today home to a millennial digital entrepreneurial society. Brands make a good use of it by handpicking matured ambassadors, ready to promote their values, from the army of new social influencers.

“Whether they are macro, micro, nano, influencers play a big part in convincing the digital consumers. Knowing that Nano influencer is new to the market, I think it is a big opportunity that brands should start considering.” – Phunnapa, Limtansakul, Senior Ecommerce Manager SEA – Beiersdorf Thailand.

What Can Brands Take Away from This?

Time and again, brands are constantly curious about two things: what is my competitor doing? How do my consumers feel? As ecommerce and social media become a bigger part of consumers’ daily lives, brands are looking for ways to gather data and gain insights from platforms such as Lazada and Shopee as a rich and dynamic data set.

The metrics that BrandIQ will be able to offer to brands.

And the metrics that brands should start paying more attention to, tools like BrandIQ will be able to track and analyze consumer behavior and sentiment on marketplaces, in addition to tracking their own performance as well as benchmarking against competitors selling similar products.

Interested in monitoring your competitor? Get BrandIQ’s free trial here.