Despite being supported by the “Vietnamese using Vietnamese products” campaign, selling Vietnamese products in the domestic market is still difficult.
The retail market has a lot of potential, thanks to an annual growth of 10 percent over the past five years, according to international organisations and foreign investors. How many domestic products are consumed in the market or is the market more suited to imported goods?
Over the past two years, due to the global economic downturn, export markets have narrowed and many businesses have been trying to conquer the domestic market to ease their difficulties.
At Hoi market in Cam Xuyen district, Ha Tinh province, the proportion of domestic products is small compared to Chinese and Thai products, which are transported through the Cau Treo and Lao Bao border gates.
Most utensils in farmers’ houses in Thien Cam town, Ha Tinh province are imported from Thailand or China.
“Our rice cooker and fridge are both from Thailand,” says Nguyen Thi Hoa. “Thai products are not cheap but are reliable.”
Domestic products have to compete fiercely with imported ones, including poor quality or out of date products that are illegally imported. Garments are in the most difficulty because the country borders with China which produces and supplies cheap and luxury goods to meet the diverse taste of consumers.
Le Xuan Thong in Luc Nam district, Bac Giang province says that young consumers find it difficult to choose Vietnamese products because garment businesses do not research the domestic customer tastes. “Domestic products are good but their designs are not fashionable and they are not cheap enough,” says Thong.
Businesses also find it difficult to sell their products in rural areas if they do not have a basic strategy. Even renowned trademarks such as the Garment Company No10 are not present in the rural market. “It is easy to buy the company’s products in urban areas but more difficult in rural areas because its distribution network is very weak,” says Than Duc Viet, the company’s managing director.
The rural market with 70 percent of the country’s population has a lot of potential for Vietnamese businesses, however, it is not easy to conquer because consumers have got used to imported goods, including illegally imported or fake ones.
Phan The Rue, former Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade and president of the Vietnam Retail Association, says that the distribution network is on many levels, causing difficulties for consumers, especially in rural areas.
Many Vietnamese products in the rural market are imitation and it is only when market management agencies get involved that consumers realise this. The rural market is seen as easy prey for poor-quality products.
Vo Van Quyen, Deputy Head of the Domestic Market Department under the Ministry of Industry and Trade says that businesses still have not grasped the real needs of local people and need to establish a better distribution network to ensure their goods reach the hands of consumers.
Over the past two years, a programme to promote Vietnamese products to rural areas has been carried out in many provinces and has received a strong response from rural consumers. However it is pity that after the sales promotions, rural people still do not know where to find real Vietnamese products.