Marketing

Exploring Consumer Behaviour in Maturing Thai Society

Since the 1980’s Thailand experienced an economic boom that started its transformation into a vibrant state with a significant portion of middle-class population. This is one of the reasons why Thai consumers are distinguishably set apart from their neighbours by their remarkable brand consciousness and loyalty. 

Let’s explore what makes Thai consumers stand at the forefront of the e-commerce progress in Asia as well as other characteristics specific to the purchasing behaviour in Thailand.

27,352THB is an average household income in Thailand in 2021, which is around 800 USD.

Source: Out Source Accelerator, 2023

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In 2023, growth is expected to accelerate to 3.8% due to a further rebound of private consumption and increased tourism, despite the global economic slowdown and weaker demand.

Source: OECD Development Centre, 2023

1. Brand loyalty

In spite of the fact that most consumers in Southeast Asia are very price conscious and will switch brands for better discounts or promotions (as Indonesian consumers), Thai consumers are willing to pay more for their favourite brands. People in Thailand are the most brand-conscious and brand-loyal consumers in the region. Recognising this characteristic of the Thai consumer can help you to build a strong brand with loyal customers. At the same time, a company’s brands must rank number one or two in a category in order to achieve recognition.

2. Respect for hierarchy and authority

Thai society has a hierarchical structure categorised into social groups and classes that are determined by characteristics such as age, gender, family lineage, social class / status, or occupational rank. Therefore social and cultural rules play an important role in their social behaviour including such spheres as consumption. When curating your marketing campaign, it is important to consider these hierarchical nuances such as choosing the right communication channels, language and images. For example, Thai consumers highly respect and follow the opinions and recommendations of authority figures, celebrities, and influencers.

Thailand shoppers
Image: Banner of the initiative of social commerce platform LINE SHOPPING. Under the “Free Superstar Endorsers” campaign small businesses receive free endorsement by top-tier Thai superstars and influencers.

3. Social media dynamic and e-commerce dominance

Following global trends, online shopping is growing in popularity among Thai consumers. Despite the maturity of Thailand’s social media penetration, there was an increase of three million social media users, or 5.8%, in January 2021 as compared to the year before that. This can be explained by a shift in the social media audience profiles and behaviours, due to the increasing types of social platforms and content. According to Thailand’s Ministry of Digital Economy and Society, e-commerce marketplaces appear to be the preferred shopping channel for Thai consumers, with social commerce being the preferred online sales channel. It makes marketplaces a necessary element for any product category in Thailand’s consumer market.

Brands should not underestimate the presence and activeness in social spaces: from product discovery to interactions and purchase triggers.

4. Growing Environmental and Ethical Concerns

There is a growing awareness and concern for environmental and ethical issues among consumers worldwide, and Thai consumers play a role in this growing statistic too.  Sustainable and socially responsible products and brands are gaining traction and appeal to the conscious consumer. However, with that said, a high level of awareness does not necessarily translate into purchases as other factors (e.g,  pricing).

Increasing consciousness about the environment is also observed in the purchasing behaviour of Singaporean shoppers.

5. Role of women in decision-making

Thai women hold the strongest role among all countries of the SEA region. Factors such as education, occupation and purchasing power as well as demographic change are supporting this dynamic. Disposable income of Thai women relative to Thai men’s is also higher than in other developed Asian economies. Female shoppers in Thailand, especially working women, are more likely to be the primary decision makers for household purchases even in the categories traditionally more associated with men (alcohol, durables) compared with women in other Southeast Asian nations.

 

According to New research by the McKinsey Global Institute (MGI), purchases in Thailand could grow sharply from US$120 billion a year to US$410 billion over the next decade. By 2030, up to 90% of Thailand’s population will be able to afford not only basics like food and housing but also non-essential spendings. Definitely making Thailand one of the emerging economies to look out for when expanding your business in Southeast Asia. 

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By 2030, up to 90% of Thailand’s population will be able to afford not only basics like food and housing but also non-essential spendings.

What's next for you?

This article follows our series of posts where we analyse consumer behaviour in South East Asian countries. Find out what drives the interest of customers in Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam, Philippines and Indonesia – for a deeper understanding of the target audiences in SEA countries. Or simply download our complete guide below.

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