Rahul Sachitanand
Aug 10, 2020

Thailand's top local brands: CP Group, Chang Beer and Singha lead the charge

ASIA'S TOP 1000 BRANDS: But Thai consumers are still less likely to recognise and support established Thai brands much differently from global competitors.

Thailand's top local brands: CP Group, Chang Beer and Singha lead the charge

THAILAND'S TOP LOCAL BRANDS: TIME FOR CHANGE 

After being dominated by global brands for the last couple of years amid a wide-eyed fascination for Japanese labels, Thai consumers seem to have acquired slightly more local tastes in 2020. In Thailand's local brand rankings, as part of this year's Top 1000 listing, the sprawling CP Group that owns businesses in segments as diverse as food, retail and telcom, continues to be the country’s top local brand. Moreover, it is joined in the top 10 by two home-brewed alcohol labels Chang Beer and Singha.

To try to distill the strongest local brands in the market, we asked: "What do you think is the strongest local brand in Thailand? By ‘strongest local brand’ we mean a brand that originates from Thailand, has the best reputation and resonates most strongly with those living in this market."

It's a question we ask all of our 14 markets surveyed and while this years' responses in the markets we've revealed so far in South KoreaAustralia and Hong Kong threw up an assortment of homegrown labels, Thai consumers seem to blur these boundaries much more with international brands which do a good job of tapping local sentiment. Samsung, Toyota, Honda, Michelin and Bridgestone originate outside of Thailand yet were voted into top 10 positions for local strength.

And while Thai mobile operator AIS once again clung to a top 10 'local' brand position, it lost momentum falling to tenth from seventh in 2019.

Thailand's Top 'Local' Brands

2019

2020

 

 

CP

CP

Samsung

Samsung

Lazada

Toyota

PTT

PTT

Google

Honda

Apple

Michelin

AIS

Bridgestone

Seven 11

Chang Beer

Toyota

Singha

Honda

AIS

Yet as we mentioned above, homegrown Thai labels are starting to bubble up pushing international competitors lower down the 'local' category. Take global giants Google and Apple, for instance, which have seen their robust 'local' brand perception weakened this year, dropping to from fifth to 41st and sixth place in 2019 to 16th respectively.

In the case of the technology behemoths, it's hard to find brand-specific reasons for any dents in their reputation. “There’s a decreasing level of consumer trust in the big brands, with preference for those brands that appear more competitive, reliable, and genuine,” notes Suwitta Chotverasatanon, general manager, McCann Worldgroup Thailand.

In the overall rankings for Thailand, however, it showed that on a broader canvas, local brands had their work cut out to be noticed. For example, the two beer upstarts, Chang and Singha actually fell in the overall rankings from 217 to 257 and 122 to 135, respectively. 

Anne Hutcheson CEO of GREYnJ United Bangkok reckons that it is hard to make a sweeping statement about the rise of local brands and demise of global labels. "Over the past year, Thai consumers have been suffering from a sluggish economy, so "pricing" is the biggest concern in their purchasing decision," she contends. "Generally, it is hard to come to a definite conclusion that Thais have patronised local rather than international brands. I would rather say it depends on which particular categories." 

She explains that this nuance is visible in categories such as cosmetics where homegrown brands such as Srichand and 4U2 have outperformed, gaining market share recently. "Their quality has improved significantly, and according to consumer surveys, its compatible with international brands except their prices are significantly lower in comparison to their competitors," Hutcheson adds. The other factor to highlight in the Thailand market is the creative branding and marketing of local brands, which has shown their brand transformation through storytelling, using integrated communications tactics which has included paid, owned and earned media. All this has led local brands to take that all-important place of 'top of mind' for consumers. 

 

All of this is not to say that Thai consumers don't support buying local. But sometimes buying local means supporting smaller businesses, whereas the big established Thai consumer brands are more synonymous with their big global competitors.

“What’s clear is that there’s a trend where millennials seem more keen to set up their own businesses than become run of the mill office workers,” says Chotverasatanon of McCann Worldgroup Thailand. “So we’re seeing the growth of a lot more exciting SMEs … which are marketing well and offering products are more affordable prices (and) consumers are … starting to shop with these brands, rather than more expensive and perhaps unfamiliar international brands.”

She points out that there have also been a plethora of brands launched by Thai celebrities, which are doing very well.  Examples include CHO Cosmetic by Noey Chotika and Zub Zero, gray hair coverage spray by DJ Poom. As this trend has kicked in, the previous strong preference for global brands—across segments--has dimmed. Illustratively, Adidas has fallen from 16th to 29th, Coca Cola has fallen from No. 17 to 45 and social media giant Facebook from 18 to 55.

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