Xin Chào – What I learned about Youth Marketing on a Trip to Vietnam

20 May 2009

I have returned from Vietnam. For those who follow regularly, thanks for being patient. After several weeks of not writing I have lots to catch up about.

I thought it fitting to have my first post back be about what I learned of [Youth] Marketing during my travels. As with all travel experiences (and hence the beauty of it), it is inevitable you will both discover new things and experiences, as well as rediscover some old ones. Both are amazing and delight me in their own right. Regarding Youth Marketing, it is no different. Some things reinforced what I know to be true in what I am familiar with, other things I stumbled upon were very interesting and new (at least to me).

In regards to the Vietnamese market (and I need to clarify that 3 weeks of sightseeing doesn’t make me an expert, I am merely piecing together what I observed with what I know), the biggest thing that stuck out to was immense amount of opportunity for Youth Marketing, at least in the urban centres. Three things that helped me come to this conclusion are the Young Population, Vibrant Economy and Emerging Technology.

  • Young Population. 54% of Vietnamese population of 87 million is aged under 25…While I have seen variances on this exact figure, really enough said.
  • Young Technology. With the above , that means the largest slice of the pie in Vietnam are young, [and typically] early adopters of technology. Interest and need drive innovation and further extend reach. Social Media is currently utilised by the Early Adopters, but not long after will that give way to brands looking to differentiate in market.
  • Young Economy. Relatively recent admission into the World Trade Organization solidifies Vietnam as a country that is poised for economic growth. My impressions were of a viable, vibrant country and in talking with new friends there, I found there is an overwhelming interest in economy and business.

As a result of the potential in market, I have summarised a few of the more specific opportunities I came across. As there is not a particular heading all of these fit under, I will title: Random Youth Marketing Experiences from My Travels in Vietnam (I wonder if this means I can expense some of my trip…..hmmmm…..)

Mobile, mobile, mobile. Everywhere.
Wow, big demand for mobile in Vietnam. I have since my travels read a forecast of a staggering 270% growth to reach 46 million users by 2010 (Wireless Asia 2007). A recent Neilson survey “found 74 percent of people in Ho Chi Minh and Hanoi own a mobile phone”, and in general boasts higher adoption rates than both China and India. It seems with the recent rise in household incomes, there has been a surge of consumer consumption, mobiles being one of the must-have items. Every street in every corner has a mobile phone store. Texting while driving motorbikes, texting with two phones at the same time (true story), texting in multiple languages – all of these are common in Vietnam. Young mobile users spend a larger share of their consumer power on both voice and messaging than any other age group. The result is the very large youth segment drives the largest mobile and data usage, securing it’s future and growth. With those figures all you have to do is the math, it’s a solid foundation for mobile marketing (hopefully savvy marketers learn from previous SMS marketing mistakes).

Online gaming, 24/7.
4 AM, just got off train in Hanoi, hotel doesn’t open until 6, so I stagger into a 24-hour internet café (which they mostly are in the city centres). What do I find, 10 of the 25 computers taken by very intense online gamers. Let me note that it was not just “kids”, it was common to walk by a internet hub and see business men after work hitting it up as well. There were posters for competitions, and from chatting with a friend Anh, apparently there are professionals as well. Online gaming not only provides sources of revenue, but also co-branded opportunities as well as communities for brands to participate in.

Entertain Me. 24/7.
There seemed to be an overwhelming demand for entertainment in all forms, especially that which is streamed online (TV, movies, music, as mentioned above gaming). Don’t get me started on the English Premiere soccer fascination – think I could have stolen a plane during the Manchester United game and no one would have noticed. Everywhere there are heaps of offers for downloading music (highly doubt legal but will leave that as is), and kids that might not have computers at home streaming very loud pop music at all hours from the internet hubs. While music and entertainment have always been important factors in Youth culture, the co-emergence of access to entertainment through technology ensures it will reign supreme in those enviornments (versus other markets where social networks are used for things specific to networking or information sharing). I also think that this will create demand for local entertainment and innovative companies can trial branded content.

Motorbikes.
Not sure the relevancy here BUT if you can come up with a product or service for the incredible amount of motorbikes in that country, please tell me so I can invest!

So yes, most of my discovery comes from internet cafes (which in terms of community interaction I would liken to the my experiences at the piazza I lived by in Siena, Italy). And obviously not everything screamed out innovation and opportunity, it was until recently third world. However I was intrigued and excited by what I did see, and of course welcome any insight or feedback from anyone who has experience in Youth Marketing in Vietnam, or other markets, to compare thoughts. That’s what this blog is about – sharing thoughts and experiences that lead to best practice youth marketing.

PS next on my trip agenda (as recommended from Silka on her year long, world tour – Argentina, Chile and Peru…..

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One Response to “Xin Chào – What I learned about Youth Marketing on a Trip to Vietnam”

  1. Ada

    Nice experience!

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