It’s all about the brand name in Thailand

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It’s all about the brand name in Thailand

According to the annual Mobile Life study, conducted across 43 countries and involving 38,000 people, including 1,000 in Thailand, when it comes to smartphones, for local consumers it’s all about the brand name.

Thailand’s current smartphone penetration rate stands at around 36 percent or 7.1 million units, as at the end of September 2013, with expectations that it will have risen to around eight million units by the beginning of 2014.

Out of the 43 countries surveyed, it probably comes as little surprise to local cultural watchers that Thai consumers were found to be the most brand-conscious of all. Thais placed a far greater emphasis on the brand and/or model name compared to their counterparts in other Asian markets. The brand name was viewed as more important than features and functions.

The study was broad-ranging in terms of ages, obtaining information from people as young as 16 and as old as 60, and including both mobile phone owners and non-owners.

The survey found Thais are very active in using social media, especially Facebook. In fact, Bangkok ranks at number one when it comes to Facebook traffic, with Facebook messenger the most popular messaging service for Thai smartphone users.

In 2013 a whopping 49 percent of mobile phone users accessed social networking sites on a daily basis via mobile phones. That was an incredible jump from just 19 percent the previous year.

Despite these impressive figures, there are certain areas where Thai consumers tend to lag behind compared to those in other Asian countries. For example, the Mobile Life study found Thai smartphone users are not keen on accessing the internet via their mobile phones. The survey concluded just 39 percent would use their mobile handsets to access data on the internet. The remaining 71 percent said they still searched for information and accessed data through the fixed-line broadband networks. Nonetheless, given the pace of change within the social media network, this figure is likely to also see a sharp jump in a fairly short time frame.

The other major lag area is, perhaps understandably, in the area of internet banking. Mobile financial services, said the survey, remained largely unpopular with Thais. Just four percent of those surveyed said they used mobile banking. Nearly half of the respondents said they saw no real need for mobile financial services. Of course, for this sector, such small numbers mean the only way is up over the next few years.

Once Thailand upgrades to the 4G mobile broadband network, something it should be able to do easily since mobile devices are far more affordable at present, then internet penetration will continue to grow apace.