Jessica Goodfellow
Sep 17, 2019

Electronic brands nosedive in Vietnam, but Oppo bucks anti-made-in-China trend

Chinese brands amongst biggest hit by electronics slide in Vietnam’s top local brands; while Brand Korea is at an “all-time high”.

Oppo rolled out a campaign in May featuring Vietnam's top talent
Oppo rolled out a campaign in May featuring Vietnam's top talent


China’s electronic giants face an uncertain future outside their home market, amid intensifying trade tensions that have led to the termination of several technology contracts. In parallel, household incomes in Vietnam are rising as the country enjoys sustained economic growth, leading locals to favour quality over price.

These factors explain why Vietnam is turning off its neighbour’s electronic brands while its own local competitors creep up the ranks. That is, besides Oppo, the only Chinese brand to make it into Vietnam’s top 10 local brands list.

Climbing three places to become the eighth most popular local brand, the smartphone manufacturer also features third in Vietnam’s mobile phone category this year, behind Samsung and Apple. This is despite Oppo have a larger share of the smartphone market in Vietnam than Apple, where, together with Samsung, it controls more than half the market.

“In comparison to other parts of ‘developing Asia’, Vietnam has a strong premiumization streak,” he says. “Chinese brands haven’t yet grasped this, so are unable to win big despite some differentiated products and branding. That said, Oppo has done a decent job in transcending the mental barriers in this market and that explains its position in the list.”

It is one of few Chinese brands that has figured out how to market itself to Vietnam’s consumers, who lean more towards value than just low price, according to MullenLowe Mishra president and chief executive Saby Mishra.

In May the brand rolled out a series of films featuring some of Vietnam’s top personalities, including transgender beauty queen Huong Giang, singer Den Vau and model Hoang Thuy.

Accordingly, Oppo was named as the fourth highest brand that best aligns with consumer values in Vietnam this year, behind Honda (3), Apple (2) and Samsung (1).

Made-in-China brands have “always been suspect” amongst Vietnamese, Mishra said, where Japanese, Korean and even Thai brands are more highly regarded in the product safety and reliability perception game.

South Korean electronics giant Samsung is once again the number one top local and top overall brand in Vietnam’s list. Besides the brand’s home country, Vietnam is the only country where Samsung is featured as the top local brand — proving its strength in the market.

“Brand Korea is riding at an all-time high in Vietnam,” says Mishra. “It has the perception advantage on modernity, design, reliable quality and its tremendous cool factor. That among other things helps a brand like Samsung stay at the top.”

Oppo’s rise into Vietnam’s top ten is compounded by the collapse of several other Chinese electronics brands, including Vivo, Xiaomi and HTC, which fell 115, 73 and 21 places, respectively. Interestingly, the brand seemingly most affected by trade tensions—Huawei (46)—is only down two spots.

Motorola, owned by China’s Lenovo, suffered the biggest collapse in Vietnam’s list of top local brands, falling a catastrophic 350 places to sit at 387th place.

Essence VP of product APAC Chandler Nguyen said the fall of Chinese brands such as Vivo and Xiaomi “is aligned with their overall business performance in the market and investment in advertising”.

Chinese electronics brands were not the only ones to suffer: Toshiba (179) was also a significant dud, falling 146 places in this year’s ranking, while Nokia (32), Sony (17), LG (21), Bphone (18) fell 14, 11, seven and five places, respectively, in Sony’s case slipping out of the top 10.

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