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Vietnam’s investment potential is attracting attention, especially in industries such as real estate and technology. In January this year alone, 9,000 new companies were registered.

Despite its authoritarian government, investors in Vietnam have the option of side-stepping the country’s state owned companies to focus on smaller, private businesses that are poised for growth. Low valuations and a rising foreign cash flow mean there is a lot of potential to drive economic progress forwards but many companies still have doubt.

A lot of marketers, retailers and manufacturers are not sure about what to think of ecommerce: is it another buzz word or the future of modern trade in Vietnam? – Kantar World Panel

The current online landscape and its future

Vietnam is home to a handful of ecommerce marketplaces, notably Tiki, Sendo and The Gioi di dong, where site visits are comparable to the likes of Lazada, the biggest e-player that currently claims 30% of Vietnam’s online retail market.

Source: ecommerceIQ Vietnam data

Vietnam has also seen its fair share of newcomers and exits in ecommerce but C2C and B2C models are the most popular in the country. Garena’s Shopee has been steadily gaining traction after almost two years in the country and the Shopee app has been downloaded two million times and processes 10,000 orders per day.

2017 will be a year of intense competition for Vietnam’s ecommerce players especially as traditional retailers pursue an online presence. An example would be Korean cosmetics giant, Lotte.vn, that has an online and offline presence in the country. In January alone, Lotte gained 1.7 million visits on its website. Another threat to online players would be retail chain Aeon Shop that opened its online store AeonEshop.

vietnam, aeonVietnamese consumers shop FMCG 

According to Kantar World Panel research, the internet and online commerce is becoming more accessible to shoppers in Vietnam thanks to mobile phone usage at 80% penetration in the country’s four key urban cities. These are the other findings:

  • 69% of Vietnam’s households have working women who welcome convenience
  • Nearly 6% of urban households have shopped online for (fast moving consumer goods) FMCG at least once in 2016 and when they do, spend 3-4 X more than they would on an average shopping trip to avoid carrying bulky products on their motorbikes
  • The value share of FMCG ecommerce is 0.2% in Vietnam meaning there are plenty of opportunities for consumer good players to serve the demand and rack up sizable market share

 

Help from the government 

The Vietnamese government is set on implementing measures to improve the business and investment landscape to boost economic growth in the country. These include supporting SMEs and in particular, Resolution 35, which aims to create one million private enterprises in 2020 from 515,000 at present, and increasing the private sector share of national GDP from 43% to 49%.

The country was classified a “lower-middle income” country in 2009 – causes of the middle-income trap can include a lack of basic and advanced infrastructure, adequate financing, skilled human capital and innovative enterprise.

“Vietnam’s vision is to reach the upper-middle income category and be well on its way to a high-income economy by 2035” – Daryn Govender, opinion article on Interest.co.nz

 

Roadblocks to Vietnam’s growth

Analysts have said that many companies in Vietnam are looking to increase exports this year, hoping to leverage upcoming free trade agreements going into effect this year.

According to the Ministry of Trade and Industry, Vietnam will have to implement all commitments under the ASEAN Free Trade Agreement with China and other ASEAN member countries, the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC), World Trade Organisation (WTO) to create highly favorable conditions for the country’s economic development.

There are other challenges from overseas and domestic markets that may hinder the growth potential of many Vietnamese enterprises, especially for exports.

Domestic challenges

  • Macroeconomic instability
  • Lack of adequate development infrastructure
  • Growth quality of the Vietnamese economy

Overseas challenges

  • President Donald Trump’s “protectionism” rhetoric could potentially stunt export growth for Vietnam
  • When official, the consequences of Brexit could also impact as Vietnam was emerging as one of the EU’s most active trading partners

The major economies’ shift from trade liberalisation to protectionism could very well change the structure of global commodity supply and demand and directly impact the global trade market. To analysts, this means that Vietnamese companies should focus on building in its domestic market to contribute to economic growth and development.

For those poised to enter Vietnam, does your business differentiate from what’s already available, more FMCG offerings perhaps? Are you able to benefit from government initiatives such as Resolution 35? For investors, are you willing to take a gamble on a still very much developing country such as Vietnam?

With all this in mind, we look forward to witnessing Vietnam’s growth.

Kantar TNS & Marketbuzz recently released a study based on 1,000 respondents in Thailand, originally published on Techsauce.

The research shows that Thais are generally positive about the country’s economic outlook, despite economic slowdown in Q4 2016 and a more realistic approach to spending.

Thais are still recovering from recent events that have occurred this year, and this has affected the ‘splurging’ mentality among shoppers.

Research from Kantar TNS and Marketbuzz showed that:

  • 42% of Thais are concerned about cost of living
  • 40% of Thais are concerned about the future of the country’s economy

In regards to spending, the majority of those surveyed will only spend when necessary. 80% of respondents admit to being mindful of spending on non-necessities. 77% admit to only wanting to spend on things they really need.

Granted, the survey was conducted from a relatively small sample of 1,000 respondents.

This survey revealed that food & beverage and mobile phones were what Thai people spent the most on (82% & 75% respectively). This does not come as a surprise, considering the rise of mobile commerce in the country this year. In 2016, approximately 50% of ecommerce transactions are done via mobile phones.

Interestingly, Thais are less inclined to buy cars. 52% insisted that they either had no plans to spend on automobile, or will cut back on spending.

The main takeaway from this research, however, showed that millennials (18-24 in this study) were not planning to slow down on spending. Instead, young Thais are finding freelance jobs or or part time work to supplement their income. This finding corresponds with a research study conducted by TMRS earlier this year, which found that millennials wish to run their own businesses, control their own finances and dictate their own schedules.

According to Kantar Insights, Thai people recover quickly and adopt generally positive outlooks, which is beneficial to the consumer market and for brands. Despite economic slowdown, Thais have a positive outlook on 2017.

Here are some key market takeaways:

  • Exports in Q3 have decline by 5%
  • World Bank has predicted GDP to drop from 2.82 to 2.498
  • Rice exports only increased by 2.9%

 

Despite not being specifically related to Thailand’s ecommerce landscape, it proves to be an interesting backdrop for Thailand’s consumer spending. Currently, the country’s ecommerce landscape is estimated to be valued at $900 million and is expected to increase its ecommerce business 12-fold to a value of $11.1 billion by 2025.

Lazada’s recent 12.12 sale campaign reigned in $40.5 million in sales this year in Southeast Asia, with 60% of GMV coming from mobile. Insights revealed that consumers shopped for everyday things and groceries, which does correlate with Thai people’s consumption habits.

Thailand’s millennial demographic will contribute to driving spending, simultaneously online and offline, from what is concluded in this report.

Summary of the report originally appeared in Techsauce on 20 December 2016. Read the original article in Thai here.