With 68 million internet users, Vietnam’s internet economy is the second fastest-growing in the region, increasing 39% annually since 2015.
This trajectory is set to continue, with the government’s drive toward 100% smartphone penetration through the support of low-cost smartphone production and one of the cheapest data packages in the region.
In the Google’s first “Vietnam’s Search for Tomorrow” report, we looked at the search trends of people across the country and discovered how they are increasingly integrating digital into their daily lives.
1. Rise of digital rural consumers
Although urban areas continue to dominate the online landscape in terms of spending, rural Vietnam is a prime market for growth, poised to grow twice as quickly as metro cities. This is where over half of the country’s population resides — an untapped market with rising internet penetration.
77% of rural Vietnam now has internet access, and 91% access the web daily. The internet has become a bridge to resources, products, and services that these users are accessing for the first time.
Rural users are rapidly turning to the internet for communication, education, self-development, and entertainment. Marketers can align their messaging to these categories, leveraging the aspirations of these users with useful and relevant content that creates an emotional connection.
YouTube’s relevant and easily accessible content appeals to rural users, with 97% using the platform every week and 62% viewing content on it daily. But when making purchase decisions, Search is the clear leader, with 45% of rural consumers using it to find information on products vs. traditional media (24%) and social media (27%).
In fact, 77% of Vietnam rural users clicked on a Search ad because of a relevant headline.
2. The rise of the on-demand economy
With most of the world in lockdown, the pandemic has resulted in a steep plunge of foot traffic to stores. However, despite the fact that the lockdowns in Vietnam have been lifted, Vietnamese consumers are still not as comfortable venturing out of their homes just yet, leading to a much slower recovery of store traffic.
Even before COVID-19, the internet economies were on the rise with Vietnamese consumers, especially the younger generation, moving to online services in hopes of a hassle-free and convenient lifestyle. The logic here is simple: “If I can get a cab or banh mi (Vietnamese baguette) from a click on my smartphone, why not everything else?”
Over the past year, we have seen a significant surge in Search interest across a range of categories. For instance, Search interest in video streaming platforms grew by 2X in the first half of this year. YouTube Search interest grew for traditional content such as “news” (tin tức) as well as unique online content, like “asmr” and “baby bus.”
Similarly, education and money management also saw a steady increase in Search interest: 1 in 3 Gen Zs turned to the internet in the last month alone to learn and develop their knowledge base. In addition, consumers in Vietnam are also increasingly shifting from physical branches to the online medium for their finance needs, which has resulted in a 33% surge in downloads of finance apps and increase in Search interest for “online lending app” by 300% in the past year.
3. Smart shoppers who do their homework
As Vietnamese consumers integrate digital services more and more into their daily lives, we see them exploring various options and channels on their path to purchase. The shopping journey has evolved significantly due to increased internet access and COVID-19, and 83% of Vietnamese now spend more time researching products online before making a purchase. Online decision-making and offline purchase is the dominant behavior across key categories.
In addition, Vietnamese consumers are asking more personalized queries. We are seeing a steady rise in Search interests that are unique to each consumer’s needs and desires. Vietnamese consumers’ journeys are also traversing more across online and offline mediums as 75% of purchases are being done offline, yet 62% of research for these purchases are done online.
4. Vietnamese care about their health
A healthy lifestyle has never been more important to Vietnamese, and many have looked for products and services to improve their lifestyles and consumption habits.
Air quality is a common concern in the country, as more consumers searched for “air pollution” (+80%) and “air purifiers” (2X). We saw a dramatic increase in searches for products to help improve the home environment.
Consumers are also increasingly becoming more health-conscious, indicated by the surge in Search interest for “health wearables” (“đồng hồ thông minh”) (+55%), and “home workout” (+60%), as well as a 38% increase in “fitness apps” downloads. In fact, time spent per visitor on apps or websites relating to fitness/diet also saw an increase by 62%.
Vietnamese internet users also showed increased interest in using healthier and organic products despite higher price tags, as we saw an increase in Search interest for food and beverages, such as “alkaline water” (+80%) , “zero alcohol beer” (+250%), and “low sugar” (+100%). There is also an increased focus on diet and healthy eating, with 80% growth in Google searches related to diet.
Search is a great indicator of consumer intent. Understanding how and where people look for information when making a purchase decision helps brands meet consumers with greater understanding of what resonates, leading to stronger and more meaningful relationships.
By Tammy Phan, Head of Marketing for Vietnam, Google APAC