Vietnam’s Rising Consumer Society
(3BL Media/Justmeans) – Vietnam’s middle class is growing faster than anywhere else in Southeast Asia. These consumers want the same things as everyone else. Yet what makes Vietnam distinctive is how quickly its consumers are moving up the ladder. That’s why it’s an attractive market for retailers and consumer goods companies, with its fast growing and sustainable economy. As Vietnam grows to become an increasingly multifaceted and globally integrated economy, it’s giving rise to a young middle-class with increasing aspirations and a demand for quality products that best suit their needs.
The cities here, though small, are expanding rapidly. Six of them —Can Tho, Da Nang, Haiphong, Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, and Nha Trang—account for 40 percent of the country’s sales, according to AC Nielsen estimates. While the Vietnam Ministry of Industry and Trade forecasts that the market for beauty products will grow 15 percent a year for the foreseeable future. Vietnam began to liberalize its economy in the 1980s, when the country’s leaders launched ‘doi moi’ (renovation). It was only after President Clinton lifted the US trade embargo in 1994 that multinationals looked to set up here. Since then, Vietnam has taken off and in 2007 it joined the World Trade Organisation.
Reflecting this dynamic development, Vietnam today is home to Kimberly-Clark's biggest market in Southeast Asia, and is one of its fastest growing markets globally for both diapers and sanitary protection. This year, the company is celebrating 25 years of providing the essentials for a better life for consumers here, an important milestone in the Kimberly-Clark journey that began in 1991. The initial operations were carried out under the name of TN VINATHAI CO. LTD. In 1991, the company introduced KOTEX Softina to the Vietnamese consumer; it quickly became the number one brand for sanitary pads in the market. Production lines were located both in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. Other brands, including Kleenex and Huggies, have been introduced over the years, with each growing quickly into leading brands in Vietnam.
Today, Kimberly-Clark in Vietnam is recognised for its leadership in product, digital and marketing innovations. The company also actively contributes to local communities through various programs that touch its consumers’ lives by driving for greater health and hygiene outcomes. This includes virtual pre-natal classes for more than 100,000 Vietnamese mothers-to-be; a diaper donation drive via social media for families in need; and building the KOTEX Allies Network to empower girls for new life opportunities.
Overall, Vietnam has done well, boosting its international economic integration, embedding itself in global value chains and signing a number of free trade agreements, such as the Eurasian Economic Union, the European Union, South Korea and the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Simultaneously, the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) Economic Community established on December 31, 2015 is likely to create more opportunities for the country to link further with regional and global economies. It’s a given that the world will be hearing more about Vietnam over the next few years.
Photo Credit: Kimberly-Clark