Branding in Asia recently sat down with Saby Mishra, the CEO of J. Walter Thompson in Vietnam, for some insights on his seven years spent working in the rapidly developing Southeast Asian market of 92 million.
Over the course of our conversation at the JWT offices in Ho Chi Minh, Mishra talked about the changing consumer in Vietnam.
“Vietnamese consumers have evolved beyond that initial excitement phase,” says Mishra.
“They’ve become more mature, they are more aware, they are more digitally connected, they are more time-pressured, so they value convenience a lot more. Therefore, things like e-commerce or things that can save them more time are becoming much more relevant.”
The interesting thing is that whenever consumer insight has been used or leveraged well the outcome has been exceptional, a step change has happened
Mishra also offered his take on where gaps remain to be filled for brands in Vietnam.
“Beyond FMCG, the level of consumer engagement is often lacking in innovation, that is one significant gap that is happening,” says Mishra.
“A lot of companies have got great business models, so when they go from zero to eighty, say $80 million in revenue, beyond that, the kind of capability that is needed to really go consumer-facing and add scale, that is missing.”
Mishra adds that while the use of consumer insights, with some exceptions, has been “weak and patchy”, he’s observed that when used right, the results have paid off for Vietnamese brands.
“The interesting thing is that whenever consumer insight has been used or leveraged well the outcome has been exceptional, a step change has happened,” says Mishra.
“These are volatile markets, so you see the companies that are winners today, they took a very long-term view of the market, they invested into this market, they invested into scale, they invested into market share capabilities and today they are the winners.”
Watch the full interview here.
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