May 27, 2014 00:00 By Kwanchai Rungfapaisarn
Thai consumers have been changing their buying patterns for fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) as they adapt to the current political and economic uncertainties, according to a major market-research agency, London-based Kantar Worldpanel.
Howard Chang, general manager of the agency’s Thai operation, said individual consumers had been spending more time at home since the political chaos that culminated last week in another military coup.
FMCG food-preparation categories, for example, had seen sales jump by 7-8 per cent during the political unrest. People also preferred to buy products at nearby convenience stores.
“As a market-research agency, we have seen Thai consumers spending less and less money and purchasing fewer items during this period of political and economic difficulties. Many major brands have reported slower sales,” Chang said.
He noted that during the government’s first-car tax-incentive scheme, those taking advantage of it cut their FMCG spending by about 10 per cent, and an even deeper decrease was seen in non-FMCG categories. Fast-moving consumer goods are defined as products that sell quickly and relatively cheaply.
Consumers have also become more responsive to promotion campaigns.
“[According to] our market research, individual consumers have increased their purchases by 20 per cent on average because of attractive promotions,” he said.
Chang said this was quite different from the period of high inflation in 2008 when high-end consumers went for convenience stores near their homes. They have shifted their purchases to cheaper brands.
Martin Choi, consumer insight director, said Thais had been gradually changing their purchases from bulky products or those in large packs at hypermarkets to small packs at convenience stores near their homes. The shift in buying patterns has been driven by the rapid expansion of convenience stores, especially 7-Elevens, as well as their successful promotional campaigns.
Based on a brand-footprint survey conducted by Kantar last year, which was a global ranking of the most popular consumer brands, Coca-Cola remained on top, with 5.8 billion consumer-reach points. Coke was also the No 1 brand in eight countries around the world. Meanwhile, Dutch Mill remained Thailand’s most-chosen brand, with 386 million consumer-reach points.
Kantar Worldpanel defines “consumer reach points” as the number of purchasing decisions made for particular items and at particular retail outlets.
Based on its global survey, Thailand enjoyed the world’s highest increase in consumer reach points last year at 9 per cent, compared with the Asian average increase of 2.9 per cent. The number of consumer reach points in Europe dropped by 1 per cent last year, while in the United States, the number increased slightly, by 0.8 per cent.