Visit us at

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

The digital age in Vietnam is booming, but where are the advertisers?

Recently an interview was featured online ( with the director general of Broadcast and Electronic Information under the Ministry of Information and Communications (MIC) of Vietnam (imagine the kind of dinner party conversations you could have with a title like that) speaking about internet freedom in the country. The interview covers his views (or perhaps a panel’s – okay, most likely a panel’s) on the progression of the internet usage in Vietnam. It’s a very brief and short interview that does sound like a carefully scripted press release.

The director reveals that the internet was introduced in Vietnam back in 1997 (This is only 6 years after the world wide web was introduced to the world by Tim Berners-Lee). So it’s actually been around for a lot longer than most people probably think. He goes on to say there are currently 27 million people in Vietnam, which is 31% of the population, now on the internet. That’s 10 million more internet users than the number of users in Australia. What’s even more amazing is that there are more Vietnamese internet users than the entire population of Australia.*

So where are the advertisers? The numbers seem to be pretty impressive. And to date, we haven’t seen any truly innovative campaigns from the major marketers that engage this large and growing online audience. Instead we generally see adaptations retro-fitted from other countries. Surely 31% of the country’s current online users deserve more than this.

According to the director general, ‘Vietnam is now leading the region in internet growth and is among the countries with the greatest internet development in the world.’ He also adds, ‘internet access is easily available to the people of Vietnam with hundreds of online newspapers, thousands of information portals and millions of personal blogs.’ That’s a lot of eyeballs, trackballs and mouses.

The golden cyber gateway to Vietnam is waiting and ready. Now clients just need to believe in it as much as the government does.

The original article is here.

*2010: Australia population - 21,262,641. Australia internet users - 17,033,826. By Internet World Stats via Nielsen

Friday, 18 February 2011

Supply and demand

One of the biggest complaints I hear about living in Vietnam is customer service. And at the same time, I often hear about the gentle nature of the population and a sense of being eager to please. So you can see how I struggle to reconcile the two.

Perhaps it's simply a symptom of the change that is happening here. We are coming from a time when services and goods had their pick of clientele. But as we swiftly move to a more commoditised marketplace, it is becoming apparent that to survive in this marketplace there will have to be a greater benefit than simply being in existence. It's been wonderful to see the bar raised across the board though as new stores pop up and even the street-side cafes start to update to actual store fronts. Maybe it has just been exposure and training. With more MNC's, returning Vietnamese, growing tourism, the rise in overseas travel, we are seeing exponential increases in opportunities for training and the rise to global standards.

Regardless of the cause, as Vietnam becomes a greater part of the global market, added value beyond just the product or service itself will become vital. There is simply too much supply and choice available for Vietnamese consumers for them to feel compelled to purchase anything less than exactly what they want.

What will be the response? Will we follow the trend of more values based marketing or more experiential marketing? No reason why you won't see both.

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

I'm king of the world... errrr... road!

Every year at the end of January or early February (depending upon the Lunar calendar), thousands of people living in Ho Chi Minh City flock to their hometowns and provinces to visit their families for 1-2 weeks to celebrate Tet. It's a wonderful time of festive gatherings, family dinners and fireworks. But alongside the card games and visiting with relatives there is something people secretly enjoy during Tet sometimes even more than the special rice cakes – uncrowded, empty streets.

When asked, a good number of locals in Saigon listed ‘no traffic’ as one of the wonderful benefits the Tet holidays brings. Surprising? Probably not, when you consider their daily commute consists of enough bumps, grinds and invasion of personal space that would make even Paris Hilton uncomfortable. The chance to enjoy unhurried travel through the city streets is a wonderful treat. Thousands and thousands of scooters gone for two weeks. Perfect.

You’re able to cruise down Dong Khoi Street and actually have a chance to check out the architecture and scenery around you. And ride the way Hells Angels do completely mask free so you can enjoy the cool breeze on your face, and maybe even chat with other bikers. Best of all, there’s no one around you forcing you to inch closer to the bike in front of you at a red light. Ultimately, your bike riding experience during Tet can be a liberating and an enjoyable one.

We’re already looking forward to next Tet, so we can practice our best Kate Winslet pose.

See you on the road.