Stunning landscapes, a welcoming culture and mouth-watering cuisine are just a few of Vietnam’s enthralling qualities that have made the country one of 2016’s travel hotspots. New cultures, delicacies and experiences are what the team at GEM MEDIA thrive on and content manager, Sophie, recently made the journey to see exactly what Vietnam had offer, on the way gaining insight in to how South East Asia does commercial marketing.
Firstly, when talking about marketing in Vietnam it is important to understand that Vietnam is, technically, still a communist country with a one party state and restrictions on free speech and media. However, after joining the World Trade Union (WTO) in 2007 and having sanctions lifted on trade, Vietnamese citizens now have the freedom to start their own businesses and make their own money, creating more of a Capitalist economic culture. Vietnam is, in fact, one of the fastest growing economies in the world! With the freedom to trade, business is booming, most noticeably in the bigger cities of Hanoi, Nha Trang and Ho Chi Minh. In these cities, a consumer retail culture is becoming apparent and is being driven by a new, younger, inclusive generation.
Throughout our marketing abroad blog series a prominence of online marketing has been prevalent, and whilst less apparent in Vietnam, the Internet is becoming a catalyst towards Vietnamese marketing. Facebook has only recently been allowed in Vietnam yet there are now 14million Vietnamese Facebook users. This number is increasing and the Internet is becoming much more prominent within Vietnamese marketing, not only targeting local Vietnamese people but also tourists. For example, a Halong Bay trip aimed at the younger travellers has a large social following and provide images and videos of the 'castaway island' trip in order to market to social media users.
This is also helped by holiday booking sites such as Booking.com and Expedia, which market and advertise hotels across the country. In fact, something that really stood out was the presence of wifi – absolutely everywhere. There are more free wifi connect points across Vietnam than in the UK, they even had free wifi in extremely rural service stations! This is an example of the pull towards the Internet, which will result in greater access to marketing for business purposes.
Fashion is big in Vietnam and the big name ‘Western’ brands are extremely appealing there. Walking through the market you will see fake Nike and Adidas trainers and even shops with front windows displaying ‘ASOS’ and ‘TOPSHOP” signs. These brand names play a big marketing role, not only for tourists wanting to get something that bit cheaper, but for the young Vietnamese crowd who are creating a new generational pull towards consumerism and identifying with new fashion statements. It wouldn't be surprising to see online shops become the next fashion focussed commercial venture in Vietnam.
Construction is also on a major rise at the moment and with the economy on its way up, large commercial companies are investing more across the country. This is mainly coming from tourism with names such as Hilton, Plaza, Ramada and Anantara setting up new complexes and tourist hotspots. Hoi An is a beautiful old town in Vietnam and, whilst more touristy, it has for the moment maintained its traditional charm. This is despite the presence of the bigger hotel chains and because of some wonderful independent Vietnamese hotels. However, a motorbike ride up the coast to Da Nang showed marketing for tourism is in full swing. Large construction sites surrounded by walled advertisements of what the new complexes will look like, line the entire coastal drive from Hoi An to Da Nang.Westerners realise the opportunity in such tourist places.
Western influence is also hitting other areas. You can now find scandi style cafes, such as CocoBox, a fresh produce and coffee shop, now a small chain in Hoi An who has a significant online presence and is owned by a dutch entrepreneur - and more are definitely on their way.
The rise in tourism is due to improved accessibility worldwide, only a 6 hour direct flight from Australia and just over 10 from England, it has never been easier to travel to South East Asia. Vietnam Airlines is also investing in more marketing and advertising overseas and has even extended its flight routes. Americans will soon be able to fly direct in to Hanoi, meaning even more tourists will be heading to Vietnam’s shores and also that American companies will have better access to business in Vietnam, leading to heavy investment in marketing.
One thing the Vietnamese do very well is service, throughout Vietnam in hotels restaurants and on excursions, you will find that the Vietnamese are always willing to go that extra mile to ensure you have an unbeatable experience. At hotels; free drinks on arrival, complimentary massages, complimentary fruit in your room. At restaurants; always a smile, recommendations for the food to ensuring the temperature is just right for you. This is also very prominent on the airlines, which is a key marketing tactic for overseas tourism as this is the first experience of Vietnamese service and culture that most tourists see. The planes are new, with large seat pitches (leg room) as you take your seat, the staff bring round fresh towels and drinks - a truly welcoming experience from start to finish.
Vietnam is certainly changing due to the commercialism, marketing, heavy investment and a young, ambitious generation. The world is catching on to the great value, great food and welcoming nature of Vietnam where your money goes along way and you receive 5* service throughout. This treatment does not come down to marketing alone,it is part of Vietnamese culture and attitude, but marketing is certainly doing its bit for the increased popularity and huge rise in tourism. Now is certainly a great time to go to Vietnam, whether you are interested in experiencing an incredible, stunning and welcoming country or even a country at the early stages of its commercial marketing journey.
We couldn’t recommend Vietnam highly enough!