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Thai consumers, today, are looking for ways to fulfil their desires to better themselves, according to new research from global market intelligence agency Mintel. Latest findings reveal that as many as four in five (79%) metro Thai consumers would like to have a healthier diet in 2018*, while just over three in four (76%) would like to have a better work-life balance and 73% to exercise more.

Almost half (48%) of metro Thai consumers plan to adjust their diets over the next 12 months* for their personal health and wellness. Of these consumers, while the majority (90%) plan to eat more fruits or vegetables, over half (53%) are looking to reduce their meat intake and 45% to follow a plant-based, vegetarian or vegan diet.

“Amidst rising income and rapid urbanisation, consumers in Thailand are embracing the benefits of personal wellness, and, as a result, are increasing their efforts towards self-betterment—be it physically, mentally or emotionally. Thai consumers are not only cutting back on their bad habits, but also paying more attention to what they are consuming. Our research indicates that customisation can be a key player in consumers’ pursuit of bringing positivity into their daily lives. As well, instances of customisation can be introduced in everyday products,” said Delon Wang, Trends Manager, Asia Pacific, at Mintel.

Thai consumers desire for customisation

Indeed, two in five (41%) metro Thais think that brands who offer them the choice to personalise or customise their purchase provide the sense of a premium service. Additionally, the majority of metro Thais prefer the option of being able to personalise or customise in the food (67%) and health and fitness (63%) categories, respectively. When it comes to grooming, over half like the option of personalising or customising in the household and personal care (51%) as well as the beauty and personal care categories (51%), respectively.

When it comes to everyday purchases, high quality (63%) is the top influencer. What follows next are convenience (48%), price (38%), durability (37%), and customisation (29%).

Technology plays a major role in guiding choices

Meanwhile, it seems that the advancement in technology is shaping how Thais are consuming information and being influenced. Mintel research shows that over three in five (63%) metro Thais are getting their nutritional or dietary information from online searches and over half (54%) via social media or blogs. Further, three in five (59%) say that they are getting their beauty information from social media or blogs, while 56% through online searches.

“With so many choices in the market, consumers may start skewing toward brands that help guide them in their purchase decisions and aid in their journey of self-betterment. To stand out against the crowd, brands should consider offering advice to help inform these decisions. As reflected in our research, brands can leverage digital channels to ensure they are at the top of mind among Thai consumers, especially in this day and age where more and more consumers are moving online

“Moreover, body trackers, wearables as well as consumer data will play a large role in the future, aiding customisation and guiding consumers with their choices. We can expect to see integrated features added to surroundings, helping consumers to better understand themselves and how their surroundings can affect them. These present opportunities for brands and companies to reach out and target consumer movements based on lifestyle changes, and in this case, their pursuit of achieving their personal health goals. This aligns with Mintel Trend ‘Data Creators’ which discusses how consumers are creating data through their actions, movements and behaviours—all of which leave a trail and tell a story. Technology allows people to listen to this data, learn from it and react,” continued Wang.

As a matter of fact, Mintel research finds that 39% of metro Thai consumers currently own or have the intension of owning smart technology in their homes.

Keeping things natural

Overall, Thai consumers are undoubtedly on the right track to living healthier lifestyles, but what exactly does a healthy meal mean to them today? Mintel research highlights that two-thirds (67%) of metro Thai consumers describe ‘healthy food’ as all natural ingredients, 61% as low fat, 56% organic, 55% low in calorie, and 54% describe ‘healthy food’ as being low in sugar. What’s more, more than half (53%) of metro Thais are avoiding saturated fats, while 43% are avoiding refined sugar and a third are avoiding salt (33%) and red meat (33%), respectively.

At the same time, it appears that companies in both the food and drink and beauty and personal care industries are aware of consumers’ preference for all things natural. According to Mintel Global New Products Database (GNPD), 41% of food, drink, beauty and personal care products launched in Thailand in 2017 featured a ‘natural’ claim, up from 34% in 2010.

Opening up to plant-based offerings

Finally, Thai consumers are gradually warming up to the idea of plant-based food and drink offerings, finding them just as nutritious and tasty as meat-based options. As many as three in four (76%) metro Thai consumers agree that plant protein (eg legumes, nuts) is just as nutritious as animal protein (eg meat, eggs), while more than half (55%) agree that plant protein tastes better than animal protein.

“To appeal to Thai consumers who are starting to adopt better lifestyle habits, more companies should offer food, drink, beauty and personal care products that are made with natural formulations, seeing as there is demand in the market. In addition, consumers preference for natural, simple and flexible diets will drive further expansion of plant-based alternatives especially as they are finding them just as nutritious and tasty as animal-based food and drink products,” concluded Jane Barnett, Head of Insights, South APAC, at Mintel.

*1,500 internet users aged 16+ living in the metropolitan areas of Thailand, May 2018