Dateline Southeast Asia

Quality trumps price for time-poor urban Thai consumers

By RJ Whitehead

- Last updated on GMT

© iStock
© iStock

Related tags Retailing Convenience store Southeast asia

The quality of a product is more important to Thai consumers than its price, according to Mintel research.

In its latest study of Thai consumer sentiments across everyday products, the global market intelligence agency found that as many as three in five urban Thai shoppers—or 58%—rated quality as a key purchase factor, ahead of convenience, special offers and preferred brands.

Thailand’s consumers have become more prudent with their spending in recent years. In light of this, more and more consumers are turning to online channels that give them access to competitive offers and cheaper pricing​” said Avanthi Ravindran, Mintel’s senior trend and innovation consultant for Southeast Asia and India.

However, our research shows that high quality remains a key driver of purchases, and consumers are still willing to pay a premium for products that are safe and natural​.”

Turning to food trends, the research also showed that consumers are increasingly more mindful of the environment and what they consume. 

Indeed, 37% of urban Thais said they prefer products that maintain fair-trade regulations, while just over three in 10 prefer products that carry environmental certification from a credible government or non-profit organisation.

Consumers are now also willing to pay a premium for “safe to use​” claims on products, as indicated by 40% metro Thai consumers, while just over a quarter said that they are willing to pay a premium for everyday products that are “natural​”. 

With ingredient safety concerns on an upward trend globally, consumers are on the lookout for products that highlight naturalness as well as clean, pure formulations. The words ‘safe’ and ‘natural’ enhance a product’s appeal to consumers, and these perceptions are only likely to grow with the increasing concerns around food safety and chemical contamination​,” Ravindran said.

With convenience the second most important driver for urban Thais, Mintel found that 30% prefer to eat out due to a lack of time to cook their meals at home, while as many as one in four prefer to eat lunch at their desk to save time.

According to Mintel’s estimates, Thailand’s ready-meals retail market saw an increase of 2.1% in volume, and reached 50,170 tonnes in 2015. The market is expected to grow at an annual rate of 3% in the five years from 2016, and reach a volume of 58,700 tonnes in 2020.

With metro consumers increasingly looking for convenient meal options, the opportunity for on-the-go formats has expanded​,” said Ravindran. 

The relationship between quality and speed should be recognised: consumers are looking for high quality, fresh products that are delivered conveniently and quickly​. 

Offering the right price and discounting as appropriate are also crucial; companies will need to branch out with their marketing efforts, tap into online channels, and go beyond traditional retail stores​,” she added.

More from Southeast Asia…

Malaysian Customs decides against GST on 60 foods

Malaysia’s Customs department has rejected an order to impose GST on more than 60 food items.


The agency’s director-general, Subromaniam Tholasy, said in a statement that the decision had been made in consultation with the finance ministry. 

It had earlier been reported that the 60 items, including various types of seafood, vegetables, fruits, tea, coffee and spices, would be subject to the standard 6% rate of GST from July. 

In clarification, Subromaniam said: ”The media was referring to Goods and Services Tax (Zero Rated Supplies) (Amendment) Order 2017, which was gazetted on June 6 and will take effect on July 1​. 

"The Customs Department has referred this matter to the finance ministry for feedback and made the decision that this order should be cancelled​," he added. 

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