In recent years Thailand has staked its claimed as one of the key trade hubs for Southeast Asia.
The country's economy ranks second in the region behind Singapore, and grew by a relatively healthy 2.8 percent in 2015. The 2016 economic growth outlook is also solid at 3.1 percent, although despite signs of continued economic recovery both domestically and across the region, the government revised down its earlier forecast of 3.5 percent, reflecting a decline in exports and trade slowdown.
Other factors influencing the outlook for Thailand’s economy include the prices of exported goods, which have diminished as a result of lower commodity prices in the world market, and lower earnings and cashflow of exporters. The decrease in exports, along with low price of agricultural product, has prompted many households to take a more cautious approach to spending. Consumer confidence is stable, although there is rising concern about the state of the economy and rising household expenses, and many are reducing their spending, particularly in areas such as home decorating, fashion and investments in the stock market (Nielsen Global Survey of Consumer Confidence and Spending Intentions, Q1 2016).
With ongoing investment in internet bandwidth and lower data plan costs providing Thai consumers with increasing online access, digital is a key driver of consumer trends. Smartphone penetration has risen to 50 percent and continues to rise (Nielsen Consumer & Media View Survey), and the boundaries between shopping domestically versus sourcing products and services from another country continue to blur.
Amidst this digital disruption retailers are grappling with how to approach the consumer journey and provide a seamless experience across their physical and online stores. For brands, the challenge lies in adopting an omni-channel approach to ensure their products are easily accessible both online and offline.
Media fragmentation is another key driver of shifting consumer behaviour in Thailand. The recent roll-out of 28 digital TV channels has opened up new alternatives in the media landscape and competition is heating up with channels focusing on tailored content to provide advertisers with highly targeted audience outreach opportunities.
As new battlelines are drawn in the race to win with consumers, it is critical for brands to understand these evolving habits and behaviours, as well as shifting tastes, and develop brand messaging which focuses on brand messaging which clearly calls out attributes which resonate with and appeal to consumer demand. Similarly, investment in product innovation which takes into account the attributes which appeal to consumers’ demand—in particular in the areas of health and wellness, convenience and value—are key.