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Consumer sentiment down but outlook remains positive in Thailand

Kantar Thailand in conjunction with Marketbuzzz conducted a survey on consumer sentiment in Thailand in the last quarter of 2016. Overall Consumer sentiment in Thailand lost speed in the fourth quarter when several economic indicators continue to drop, in addition to the passing of the beloved late King Bhumibol Adulyadej. Yet despite the current situation, the Thai people have a positive outlook for the future of Thailand.

The survey by Kantar and Marketbuzzz revealed the main current concerns among Thais are the ‘Price of agricultural goods’ with 51% mentioning this as a main concern, followed by 42% mentioning the ‘costs of living’ and 40% mentioned ‘Thailand’s economy’.

The survey also looked into consumer spending with most Thais claiming they are cutting back on their expenditure with 80% of Thais saying that they will control unnecessary expenses and 77% will buy goods only as necessary.

Consumer spending is the key to any market economy. Grant Bertoli CEO of Marketbuzzz explained that “Consumer Spending is fundamentally linked to whether the economy is doing well or not and there is no doubt that consumer spending is the most vital component of any economy and accounts for a high proportion of a country’s GDP”.

The top 3 specific spending areas which are considered necessities to their daily lives are food and beverage, dry groceries, and interestingly their mobile phones. It was also revealed that Thais are delaying their decision to buy non necessities such as e.g. Traveling abroad (64% will spend less or have no plan to do), Investment in LTF/RMF(60% will spend less or have no plan to do) and new cars (52% will spend less or have no plan to do).

While almost all Thais are controlling their expenditure, it was the Millennials (the 18-24 years old) who claim they were more likely to look for a second job or part time job to earn more income.  Indicating this young group is looking for ways to earn more money rather than control spending.

Despite the current situation, general outlook for the future is positive with 71% claiming that Thailand will be the same or better next year. There are a number of factors contributing to this positive outlook. The top three for Thais are ‘Outbound tourism’ where 46% said would improve, ‘Inbound Tourism’ from within Thailand where 44% claimed would get better and Thailand’s overall image where 41% believed they would see improvement.

The survey also revealed the consumers’ views on what they expect from Companies and Brands during this challenging time. The three most important contributions companies should currently make to the country are to support the Sufficiency Economy, Society and Environmental Safety, and Supporting Royal Charity Projects.

And if they were to advertise, 58% thought that CSR and Corporate Ads should be increased yet only 42% revealed that Commercial Ads can be aired as normal. Again indicating there is a more discerning factor at play here for the current situation in Thailand.

“While advertising for companies will remain and consumers will continue to go on with their daily lives, companies and brand which hold a higher moral ground with a stronger sense of corporate social responsibility will be seen in a positive way”

So while the current situation is down, Thais want to look to the future and based on this optimism they are more upbeat as we move towards 2017.