Thailand flag Thailand: Buying and Selling

Advertising and marketing in Thailand

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Consumer Profile
Thailand has a population of 70.01 million people, out of which 51.4% are women (Data Reportal, 2022). The median age in Thailand is 40.9 years in 2022 (Data Reportal), with 70% of people aged between 15 and 64, 14% over 65, and 16% under 15 years old (World Bank, 2021). There is a strong emphasis on familial connections in Thailand, and often several generations will live under the same roof. However, the average size of household was 3.1 persons per household and only 9% of households consist of six people or more, while 18% of them are one-person households, 45% of houses have two or three people, and 28% have four or five inhabitants (UN, latest data available). 52.9% of the population is urban. The main cities are Bangkok, Chon Churi, Samut Prakan, Chiang Mai, Songkla and Nothaburi (CIA). Unequal education quality is a big challenge, with poorer areas being under-served. Still, Thailand has an adult literacy rate of 93.8%, with 99% of the population having completed primary education. However, only 86% complete lower secondary education and 47% upper secondary (UNICEF, 2019). Additionally, at the end of lower secondary education, only 50% have a minimum proficiency level in reading and only 46% in mathematics. The level of education of the majority of the population is incomplete secondary education (60%). Nonetheless, Thailand has successfully addressed much of its problem of low access to education that existed before the 1990s by increasing education enrolment rates at almost every education level. Indeed, the tertiary enrolment rate in Thailand is now among the highest in ASEAN.
Purchasing Power
GDP per capita PPP has reached USD 19,209.5 (World Bank, 2021). Average wages in the Bangkok area are high compared to other areas of Thailand. In 2021, the average monthly income per household in Thailand was highest in Nonthaburi, amounting to THB 41,129.42 ; while the overall country average was THB 27,352 (Statistics Office).

According to the Bank of Thailand, the private consumption index was 135.24 in June 2022, higher than it was in June 2021 (124.18). Even though poverty has also declined substantially, income inequality, as measured by the Gini coefficient (35% according to World Bank data), declined less so in recent years. Thailand has the greatest wealth gap in the world. According to the Bank of Thailand’s research institute, the Puey Ungphakorn Institute for Economic Research, approximately 36% of Thailand’s corporate equity is held by just 500 people compared to the country’s current population. The institute’s report states that each of these 500 individuals amass some 3.1 billion baht (USD 102 million) per year in company profits. This is compared to the average yearly household income of around USD 10,000.

Though women earn a majority of the higher education degrees in Thailand, women also make less money and represent the majority of the country’s employees in the informal sector. The gender pay gap was 10.94% in 2020, a sharp increase from 2.5% in 2015 (UN Women). Men in disproportionate amounts also fill positions of leadership – particularly in business –, and only 15.75% of members of parliament are women (IPU Parline).

Consumer Behaviour
Rising incomes in the country are generating optimism in the population, and are increasing consumer demand for a wide variety of products. With the increase in incomes, consumers - particularly wealthier ones - have been spending more on experiences, such as eating out, and travelling. The luxury market has also been growing in the country. Price, quality and availability of service are the key selling factors in Thailand. However, consumers are willing to pay more for they favourite brands, and they rarely switch brands - even if the prices are better. Thai consumers are the most brand-conscious and brand-loyal in Southeast Asia. They also spend more than their neighbours, which is reflected in their higher debt levels. Moreover, consumers tend to indulge and make impulse purchases, instead of saving their money - which is typically seen in other Southeast Asian countries. E-commerce is growing fast, especially informal commerce - such as social media accounts that are makeshift shops. The Covid-19 pandemic accelerated this trend. Online retail sales reached USD 51 billion in 2021, up from USD 46 billion in 2020 (USDA).

When it comes to luxury purchases though, consumers prefer to buy in person rather than on-line, as they say it is impossible for them to make any purchasing decision without seeing the product in person. While advertising is effective, word of mouth recommendations have a big impact on a brand's reputation, which consequently, can boost sales. Consumers also expect high quality customer support and after sales service, both of which are taken into account when deciding whether to make a purchase.

The younger generations tend to be interested in a healthy lifestyle, so they spend a lot on healthier food options and supplement products. Influenced by social media, they are also very appearance conscious, so they also spend their disposable income on the latest trends, gyms, cosmetic procedures, and plastic surgery. Since 2018, the government of Thailand has decided to open country's market to collaborative platforms such as Airbnb and GrabTaxi.

The Covid-19 pandemic induced several changes in consumer behavior. According to Mintel’s Global Consumer research, Thais are much more concerned about the financial impact of COVID-19 on them and their families, the economic impact on their community or life not being the same as it was before the pandemic, than they are about their family getting sick or sick themselves. Mintel research highlights that 90% of Thais chose convenience as a key driver, more than budget. There is a rising demand for convenient ready-to-eat meals, healthy food products, and food delivery (USDA).
Consumers Associations
Office of the Consumer Protection Board of Thailand
Main Advertising Agencies
Advertising Association of Thailand
Thai Advertising Agency Directory

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Latest Update: November 2022

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