Thailand is the second-largest economy in Southeast Asia after Indonesia. Its capital, Bangkok – also the country’s most populous city – is a commercial hub in Asia with a thriving retail market for Thai residents and overseas visitors. As such, Thailand has attracted many multinational retailers alongside a high penetration of local brands.
Thailand’s retail market has grown quickly enough to suit the diverse and ever-changing lifestyles of the consumers. These same consumers are now being influenced by the Internet’s content and the rise of the social media websites. The Thai retail landscape is now witnessing a stronger consumer market emerging from its upcountry provinces. With these, foreign exporters and retailers of consumer goods are now taking a closer look at the latest trends in the Thai retail market
Quality and Convenience
Given the hectic lifestyles of newly-settled professionals in the main cities, urban consumers prefer visiting convenience stores and supermarkets. It is convenient for them since such establishments are usually near their workplaces or along the mass transit lines, and houses several products for daily necessities and meals. While valuing convenience, these urban consumers, especially in large cities like Bangkok, place a strong emphasis on quality, thereby boosting the demand for branded groceries and ready-to-eat food products. They are more receptive to foreign cultures and are willing to pay a premium for branded household products and imported foods.
Social Media and E-commerce’s Influence in the Market
Social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube have emerged as important advertising tools for retailers. Thailand had about 30 million Facebook users in 2014, with most of them logging in via mobile devices. Apart from social media, more retailers are setting up their own websites for online promotion and shopping. In addition, the wider use of credit and debit cards has facilitated online payments. Also, the higher penetration of smartphones and tablets has boosted the emergence of mobile internet retailing, as consumers can check out product reviews and new arrivals instantly.
While e-commerce is fast gaining ground along with the surge in the use of mobile internet, mobile retailing is still a very new concept in Thailand, with not much market share at present. However, foreign companies targeting the Thai retail market should take note of the rising influence of e-commerce, particularly the growing use of social media and to an extent, mobile apps, on marketing in Thailand. Localization and making use of translation services are one of the ways in order to have solid Thai market base in the country.
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