This look at Thailand's Top 100 brands is part of Campaign Asia-Pacific's Asia's Top 1000 Brands report. For more on Thailand and the status of Thai brands according to our research, see the full Thailand market report.
There have been few changes in the top 10 rankings for Thailand this year, with only one brand entering (and another exiting). Elsewhere across the top 100, homegrown Thai brands remain relatively rare.
The top 10
Chanel, which gained a spot to be at the fourth this year is the only bright spot among the high-end fashion brands. Its counterparts Armani (160), Christian Dior (90) and Louis Vuitton (78) all suffered a bloodbath, with double-digit decreases in their rankings.
Meanwhile, Google enters the top 10 for the first time, rising from 16th to 10th, and it can expect to be top of mind for Thai consumers in the coming years with no competitor in sight for its search engine domination. Furthermore, the Google Maps motorcycle mode, launched recently, could prove most handy for the large number of Thai commuters who rely on two-wheelers to navigate the jam-packed streets of Bangkok.
The top 100 rankings are populated by a healthy share of Japanese brands given the historic mutual affinity between Thailand and Japan, with the ties strengthened by Thailand being the production and export hub for Toyota (76), Honda (13) and Canon (14).
Among food brands, Meiji is ranked fairly high at 23, while the Oishi Group makes a notable presence at 37th place. The Thai brand, which offers sushi and green tea drinks, currently operates 241 restaurants in Thailand and plans to add 20 new restaurants this year. The brand understands that affordable Japanese meals are its best proposition and since 2016 has given consumers the option to pay for their meals by installments, a development that could have led to its rise from 23 in 2016 to 17 in 2017. Melyssa Koh, Asia managing director at Labbrand, wrote in an overview that the laid-back attitude of Thai consumers contributes to Thailand’s higher propensity to spend, judging from Thailand’s higher household debts compared to its neighbours.
Telco brands AIS, DTAC and TrueMove may have the best chance to inch up the rankings from their current positions at 11, 12 and 32, respectively, although none of the operators are fully Thai-owned. TrueMove, which overtook DTAC as the second-largest mobile operator last year, could easily outperform DTAC in the future rankings given that the latter lost 200,000 subscribers in the second quarter this year, a slip of 8.4% compared to a year earlier. The shrinking user numbers are not unexpected, as DTAC has been dogged by concerns about its expiring spectrum licenses and has only reluctantly agreed to participate in an upcoming spectrum auction next month.
The telco’s troubles can be traced back to a run-in with the Thai government in 2014. DTAC's owner Telenor released a statement that spelled out an order by the then newly installed military government to shut down access to Facebook. The junta retaliated by threatening to exclude DTAC from a 4G auction bid on allegations of foreign-ownership breaches, forcing the telco to issue an apology.
Colgate rises, L’Oréal falls
Seeing as three can be a crowd in the telco sector, a broader category such as beauty and personal care presents more upheavals and a mixed bag of performances. Colgate jumps from 84 to 26 this year on the back of its 100-million baht ($3 million) spend for its Colgate Naturals line last year; compared to Darlie which lags behind at 226. Colgate’s APAC performance is no less stellar, rising from 47 to 21 following the regional rollout of the Naturals line. A report from The Nation states that Colgate owns more than 40% market share in Thailand, with the toothpaste market in the kingdom being valued at more than 9.1 billion baht ($272.92 million).
L’Oréal, meanwhile, has had less luck, tumbling from 46 last year to 130. Japanese cosmetic giant Shiseido suffers a similar fate, falling from 52 to 102 this year.
There are a few factors that may explain the poor showing of these brands. Established beauty brands would be wise to remember that legacy does not always play to their advantage given the fast turnover of trends in this sector. For example, L’Oréal Paris only launched its micellar water line in late 2016, long after brands such as Bioderma cemented their hold on the popular makeup cleansing product. Other new releases by the drugstore beauty brand in Thailand for the past two years include the Pure Clay hydration skincare line and the holographic lipstick range.
However, a few of its flagship lines, such as the anti-ageing L’Oréal Revitalift range, have been in the market for over two decades with few updates to product packaging. Even more crucially, established beauty brands have been bearing the brunt of competition from Korean beauty brands in the aftermath of the Hallyu wave that swept across Asia and the global market.
This is compounded by the proliferation of beauty stores selling Korean beauty products in Bangkok’s metro stations, which may reduce foot traffic to drugstores stocking beauty brands such as Revlon and Maybelline. Watsons slips from 57 to 99 this year while British-owned chain Boots fares even worse, falling from 70 to 134. To its credit, L’Oréal came to realise that if you can’t beat them, join them: the L’Oréal group bought South Korean cosmetics firm Nanda in May, even though it has yet to embrace some rather bizarre skincare hype from Korea, such as slapping snail slime on skin, which purportedly gives rise to homegrown Thai brand Snail White, which is gaining ground among Thai consumers and Chinese tourists.