Selling Beer in Vietnam, a Digital Challenge

Over the last five years Vietnam has seen its beer sales climb at more the double the rate of its GDP, making it South-East Asia’s largest consumer of beer.

In fact, in 2012 a staggering 3 billion litres of beer were consumed in Vietnam meaning there should be huge opportunities for local and international bands to market and sell here.

However, it’s not as straightforward as it should be.

Firstly the infrastructure of Vietnam’s cities, towns and villages which can be described as politely referred to as ‘disorganised’ makes it very difficult for brands to establish where or why there beer is selling well.

This is made even more complicated as many vendors will buy stock from one shop then move around so even consumers will not know where they bought the product from.

This can prove a huge hindrance for brands who want to monitor sales, establish demand for a new product or establish consumer sentiment.

Another challenge is the competition from liquor and wine brands who are looking to get a slice of Vietnam’s youthful and rapidly increasing middle class.

A recent report showed Ho Chi Minh City in the south of Vietnam has one of the fastest growing multi-millionaire populations in the world, and the thirst to match it.

Beverage companies with high-end products such as Diageo (whose brands include Schmirnoff vodka, Tanqueray gin and part own Moet-Hennessy) have been working hard over the last few years to establish a foothold in Vietnam.

While it looks unlikely spirits will ever usurp beer, their appeal is growing (though they are not really present at the street-side eating venues many Vietnamese like to eat and drink at). 

Another problem beer brands in Vietnam face is their struggles to connect with an increasingly digitalised audience.

A spokesperson from market research and insights company, Epinion said: “In order for brands to run effective social media campaigns they need to have a good understanding of who their audience actually is. Without this information you run the risk of analysing the effectiveness of digital campaigns based on falsified and biased data which is a huge waste of time and money.

“In a project we worked with Vietnam’s leading brewery Sabeco we helped them establish who of their more than 100,000 Facebook fans were ‘true’ and who just liked the page for the sake of it, then established the effectiveness of their digital campaigns. 

“As a result of our study, Sabeco gained valuable insight on how they could gain greater engagement with their ‘true fans’ and leverage further impact from future digital campaigns, reducing time and money spent on ineffective digital marketing campaigns.

“Sabeco, along with other beer brands, has to embrace digital media as this is where their consumer is, but they must also know how to connect with them online.”

For more information on beer brands in Vietnam click here. 

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