Thais face challenges with rising costs, financial confidence and debt repayment

November 30, 2023

Inflation has changed the way consumers spend their money. It has also changed the way they live. The latest research from Mintel reveals that 48% of Thais delay or cancel plans for major purchases because of the rising prices of goods and services, while 43% spend less on clothes and accessories and 41% on dining out.

Mintel research shows that Thais prioritise saving money and fulfilling their needs: half (50%) of consumers define financial success as being able to afford the lifestyles they want, and 55% allocate funds towards self-indulgence.

Wilasinee Siriboonpipattana (Kaimook), Senior Lifestyle Analyst, Mintel Reports Thailand, said: “Concerns about rising prices and their potential impact on the cost of living and overall economic stability persist for 75% of Thais, according to the Mintel APAC Economic Tracker. Brands can address this worry by implementing various initiatives that offer consumers the opportunity to indulge without breaking their budget, like introducing smaller-sized products at affordable prices or offering financing methods to make their purchases more manageable.”

Low financial confidence among Thais, many struggle with financial learning

According to Mintel research, 42% of Thais find financial jargon hard to understand, and only 36% feel confident about their financial knowledge. Consumers aged 18-24 and those above age 45 exhibit lower levels of financial confidence (22% and 18%, respectively) compared to those aged 25-44, with 14% of this group saying they are ‘unconfident’.

“This points to the need for further financial education and awareness to empower consumers to make more informed financial decisions,” Kaimook said. 

The research also shows that 46% of Thais get financial-related information from social media. This suggests a trend where financial knowledge has become more accessible, with consumers increasingly seeking convenient channels to learn about their finances. “Brands can share financial-related information via online channels by making it engaging and communicating messages in an easy-to-understand tone,” Kaimook added. 

Thais find it challenging to pay off debt

Finally, The Bank for International Settlements said Thailand has one of the highest household debt-to-GDP ratios in Asia, trailing behind South Korea and Hong Kong. Industry reports also indicate that not only are young individuals accumulating significant credit card debt with difficulties in repayment, but senior citizens are also retiring, burdened with substantial debts and no savings.

This debt scenario aligns with Mintel research that reveals a quarter (23%) of Thais identify credit card debt payments as a significant financial challenge. This is particularly prominent among consumers aged 25 and above (25%).

Similarly, addressing education-related debt proves challenging among consumers aged 18-24, a demographic primarily composed of students actively engaged in educational pursuits (24% vs 20% of the total sample).

“The state of one’s financial wellness plays a crucial role in overall well-being, with over two-thirds (69%) of Thais acknowledging its impact on mental and physical health, according to our research. Factors such as the burden of debt, uncertainty about meeting financial obligations and the inability to fulfil basic needs can contribute to feelings of distress and unhappiness. Brands can position themselves as valuable allies in consumers’ efforts to manage and overcome debt by prioritising financial literacy, providing tailored solutions to individual needs or offering affordable loans,” Kaimook concluded.

Additional research on Thai consumer spending priorities and interviews with the analyst are available upon request from the Mintel Press Office. For those interested in purchasing the full report, please visit the Mintel Store.

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