Thailand Cultural Trends
Thai cultural trends that have impacted consumer behavior include a focus on living in the moment, placing a lot of importance on health and emphasis on spending time with family and friends. These trends, what causes them and how they impact consumer behavior, have been discussed in detail below.
Living in the moment
- The Thais believe in enjoying and living in the present moment. This belief is formed by the Buddhist "belief that life exists in the present." They have a common saying that goes: “The past has passed, the present is a gift, and the future may never arrive”, so they focus on the present, which is something that they are able to control.
- This has led Thai consumers to increasingly place their emphasis on experiences and living in the moment. They spend more on experiences, luxury and instant gratification, especially the younger generation, and brands are increasingly communicating the importance of living in the moment. Experiences that they spend on include leisure travel and dining out; and the luxuries include smartphones, jewelry and watches.
- In fact, Thai consumers have a higher propensity to spend than other consumers in South East Asia, who typically save and invest. Thailand has a higher debt ratio than other countries in the region.
Importance of Health
- During their temple visits, Thais usually "pray for health, fortune and wealth". They believe that health is wealth, and good health helps them to avoid burden and financial issues that could impede them from enjoying the present.
- To them, health is much more than physical health. It also involves a positive mindset, as well as spiritual, emotional and mental well-being. In 2018, 79% metro Thai consumers said that they want a healthier diet, 76% said they wanted a better work-life balance and 73% wanted to exercise more.
- Generally, Thai consumers want to look good and stay healthy. According to a survey by the National Statistical Office, "50,000 Thais ranked health as the most important measure of life satisfaction and happiness." The survey also included other factors such as societal relationship, family, education, jobs and housing livelihood.
- However, they want to be able to stay healthy without too much effort, as studies have shown that majority of them do not exercise regularly. Plastic surgery clinics, supplements, cosmetic procedures, healthier food options, gyms and the latest trends are, therefore, increasingly popular among them.
Emphasis on spending time with family and friends
- Thais believe that "time is best spent enjoying the moment with family and friends." They would, therefore prefer to spend less time on other activities.
- As a result, Thai consumers love convenience not because it enables them to save time, but because it enables them to enjoy themselves more and spend more time with the people they love. According to a middle-class 35-year-old consumer in Thailand, “My job is very demanding. I’m not usually home until 10 p.m., and on weekends I want to spend time with my kids, not drive a long way to hypermarkets and stand in queues.”
- There are numerous convenience stores in Thailand, and this is the fastest-growing channel in the country. Whereas traditional grocery stores in Thailand had a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 2% and a share of total sales volume that decreased from 59% to 54% from 2011 to 2016, convenience stores had a 10% CAGR and their share of total sales volume increased from 14% to 19% in the same period. Convenience stores are only expected to grow further as Thai consumers "plan to increase their spending at convenience stores at the expense of hyper- and supermarkets."
- 7-Eleven, the biggest player, has 10,000 outlets and sells products to 30 million Thai customers every week. Consumers tend to buy fewer items more spontaneously and frequently as opposed to making major shopping trips. Thai consumers also want convenience when it comes to packaged food and other services.
We chose cultural trends as those that were mentioned in two or more sources. Some sources older than 24 months have been included because their findings were similar to the findings that we got from more recent sources.