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The localism trend is mainstreaming in Thailand and is being accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic. New research from Mintel reveals that over half (51%)* of Thai consumers believe that buying local products is an efficient way to boost the nation’s economy, while 47% think they should feel proud of using Thai products. Furthermore, over two in five (41%) Thais believe that supporting local brands has become more necessary since the COVID-19 outbreak.

Pongsanguan Jiradechakul, Senior Consumer Lifestyles Analyst, Mintel Thailand, said:

“With consumer interest in purchasing local products growing, brands have the opportunity to educate consumers about the positive impact buying local will have on local consumer lifestyles, including increasing job opportunities and further improving the country’s economy post-pandemic. Opportunities exist for brands to play up their ‘proud to be local’ credentials with claims such as ‘homegrown’ or ‘locally-sourced ingredients’. COVID-19 has further strengthened the localism mindset and enabled brands to accelerate their actions and promotions about their contributions to local communities as a way to create strong connections through localism.”

Quality, convenience and local commitment can build brand appeal

For Thai consumers, quality and convenience are key when purchasing local products, as almost half (48%) of Thais are encouraged to buy local brands that are easily accessible, while over two-thirds (67%) of consumers seek improved quality. Furthermore, nearly four in 10 Thais (43%) give higher priority to the community and the environment during the pandemic. 

Moreover, when it comes to raising local brand awareness, and adding more convenience, 43% of consumers think brands should promote their products more on social media.

“Local brands can step up their game to assure product quality through claims, certifications and reviews, as well as push brand presence both online and offline. There are opportunities for brands to work on product communication, pricing strategies and purchasing convenience to attract more Thai consumers. Furthermore, as Thais are prioritising their community and the environment during the pandemic, promoting brands’ contributions to local communities could drive brand empathy and loyalty. Brands should take the lead on supporting local communities and sustainability by sourcing locally and using environment-friendly, sustainable materials and ingredients in products and packaging.

“Social media and retailers are the main channels consumers expect to see local product choices. Local brands can offer convenience by pushing products via e-marketplaces, social media and instant messaging accounts, and using live-stream to assure quality. As social media allows brands to reach a wider audience effectively and economically, local brands can actively make use of this channel to increase brand awareness and also increase engagement with consumers,” continued Pongsanguan.

Consumers seek ‘localised’ products from multinational brands

Mintel research highlights that Thais agree that multinational brands** should put more effort into localising products to fit with their needs (27%). Moreover, multinational products made with local ingredients or materials appeal to Thai consumers (24%). However, 35% of Thais find it difficult to differentiate between Thai brands and multinational brands. 

“Multinational brands can appeal to the Thai market by adapting local elements, such as flavours, materials or culture and offer products that Thai consumers like and are familiar with. For example, using familiar ingredients like local herbs in personal care products to reiterate product efficacy or offer products that fit into local contexts such as those suitable for different regional climates of Thailand. Some Thais find it difficult to differentiate between local and multinational brands, indicating that domestic brands should consider improving product appeal by highlighting that they are locally made. Global and local brands need to highlight the product’s country of origin by promoting claims such as equal or superior quality or how products have been produced to suit Thai consumers,” concluded Pongsanguan. 

*2,000 Thai consumers aged 18+, December 2020
**In this study, the definitions of local and multinational brands were given prior to the survey: ‘Local brands’ are interchangeable with ‘domestic brands’, which refers to brands that originate in Thailand, even though they are manufactured/designed in foreign countries. ‘Multinational brands’, or sometimes referred to as ‘global brands’, are brands that do not originate in Thailand, even though their products are manufactured/designed in Thailand. Multinational brands also include non-Thai brands that launch products that only exist in Thailand.