Vietnam slides to fourth among the most optimistic countries globally in the final quarter of 2018 from the second ranking in the previous three months, in terms of positive consumer index.
According to the latest The Conference Board Global Consumer Confidence Survey in collaboration with Nielsen, a global measurement company, the country’s Consumer Confidence Index (CCI) score decreased seven points from the third quarter to 122 percentage points (ppts) after India, the Philippines and Indonesia, whose score was 133, 131 and 127, respectively, the survey showed.
A report by Minh An on HanoiTimes mentioned, Vietnam’s decrease in consumer confidence in the quarter was highly predictable, according to Nguyen Huong Quynh, managing director of Nielsen Vietnam. “With 2019 just around the corner, Vietnamese people are understandably anxious about their year-end bonuses and Tet holidays spending which is impacted by not really positive previous Tet experience,” Quynh explained.
However, with steady uptrend CCI score throughout the year, Vietnam’s overall confidence level in 2018 was still high above the global (107 ppts) and the region’s average (117 ppts).
Globally and regionally, many countries (39/64 worldwide and 7/14 in Asia Pacific) also experienced similar CCI downtrend due to uncertainties caused by rising costs and political challenges, said the survey.
Saving is top priority
Vietnam continued to place first in Asia Pacific in Q4 2018 for having the region’s most avid savers (78%, up six ppts vs Q3 2018, the highest figure since Q3 2016), followed by Hong Kong (71%), India (68%) and Thailand (67%).
Noticeably, even with this considerable increased intention for saving, Vietnamese’s willingness to spend on big-ticket items such as new clothes, holidays or out-of-home entertainment remained the same or even increased slightly. In compensation, they were less likely to spend on new tech products (43%), home improvements or decorations (39%) and medical insurance premiums (36%).
“Vietnamese’s culture is saving. Coupled with the above-mentioned worries for the upcoming year, it is no surprise that they want to save even more as the year ended. However, we should not jump into the conclusion that the observed reduced spending intentions on some items are permanent. Historical data showed that Vietnamese’s willingness to spend on technology or health-related products is on the rise. Therefore, enterprises should monitor the trend closely to not miss out on opportunities,” Quynh noted.
Job security and health remain Vietnamese’s top concerns
In Q4 2018, Vietnamese consumers continued to rank job security (43%, up three ppts against Q3 2018) and health (43%, up three ppts versus Q3 2018) as their top two key concerns while 27% pointed to work-life-balance (27%) as the third largest concern.
This quarter, the nation’s economy moved down one spot on the key concern list with only 20% of respondents indicating it’s their worry (compared to 27% respondents in Q3 2018), thanks to an improved sentiment about Vietnam’s economic status. Only 36% believed the country is in recession compared to 41% in Q3 2018. That being said, Vietnamese are less positive about their job prospects and personal finances.
Around three-quarters of people surveyed believed they would have good or excellent job prospects (75%, down five ppts vs Q3 2018) or would be in good or excellent financial states in the next 12 months (76%, down six ppts vs Q3 2018).
Other key areas of attention of Vietnamese consumers were their family members, including parents’ welfare and happiness (19%) and children education and/or welfare (8%).
“With inflation well-managed through-out the year (3.4% in Q4 2018) that led to more stable and predictable living costs, we can see that food prices or utilities bills are no longer consumers’ worrisome points in this quarter. With this extra piece of mind, they can now divert their care to more important matters such as their children’s education and future,” said Quynh.