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Vietnamese People Grow More Nuanced, Just Like Their Drinks

Vietnamese People have always been nuanced with different kinds of drinks- soda, bubble tea and many more

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Vietnamese who used to drink coffee or cola now have far more beverage options to choose from. VOA

To see how much the consumer has changed in Vietnam, look no further than what he drinks: soda or bubble tea. Vietnamese People have always been nuanced with different kinds of drinks.

Coca-Cola was one of the first foreign investors in Vietnam, selling in wartime and in a postwar period when many foreign companies stayed away amid a trade embargo.

These days it is not an American soft drink brand that has captured the imagination of Vietnamese drinkers, but bubble tea, brought in by a range of Asian companies, from Taiwan to Thailand. Bubble or boba tea, a sugary milk tea known for its tapioca balls, can come in endless flavors, such as strawberry, matcha, or cacao, and combined with balls of tapioca, jelly or sweet beans. The drink is decidedly more complex than soda, and increasingly, so too is the Vietnamese shopper.

This goes far beyond drinks. It used to be that foreign companies entered Vietnam to sell the basics: fast moving consumer goods, such as bags of instant noodles or paper towels. But as Vietnam moves toward a more consumption-based society, foreign investors are responding to a desire for a greater variety of products and services.

Vietnamese, drinks, fond, nuance, consumption
Businesses are working to meet the changing tastes of shoppers in Hue and across the rest of Vietnam. VOA

“[M]ore international brands are entering Vietnam than ever, thanks, in part, to the liberalization of Vietnam’s regulatory and social environment,” Colliers International Research, a real estate services company, wrote in its first quarter analysis of the Vietnam market. “This increase in brands will entice consumers to spend more … with the shift from solely retail-focused to more comprehensive entertainment experiences.”

Bubble tea, after all, is not just a drink but a social experience, seen as a more fun, colorful way for people to get together than over the traditional coffee.

Other kinds of businesses, like boxing gyms, pet shops and cosmetics stores, are starting to appear, too, and with foreign investor backing. It seems every week there is a new storefront popping up, hoping to cater to the Vietnamese shoppers’ changing tastes. The new businesses are engaging in lines of commerce from Japanese whisky bars to stores for birthday party paraphernalia, that did not exist in the Southeast Asian country even a decade ago.

Vietnamese, drinks, fond, nuance, consumption
New businesses like exercise centers, from the all-encompassing gym to the boxing or yoga studio, are popping up around Vietnam. VOA

Vietnamese citizens are earning more, and they are ready to spend it. A survey by Nielsen Vietnam, a market research company, indicated consumer confidence rose 7% in the first quarter of 2019 compared with the last quarter of 2018.

“This significant increase of consumer confidence indicates that consumers continue the positive” sentiment, said Nguyen Huong Quynh, managing director at Nielsen Vietnam.

“Manufacturers and retailers need to capture the latest trends in the consumer market and need to act faster to respond to the evolving needs of consumers,” she added.

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The changing behavior extends past the biggest cities of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. In the central beach town of Da Nang, for example, the changing appetite of consumers is drawing ever more types of business.

“A great deal of international retailers are planning to penetrate the local market to introduce their products to tourists and local customers in Da Nang and enhance their brand image in Vietnam,” the Colliers analysis said. (VOA)

Next Story

Vietnamese Advocates of Solar Power Begin “Million Green Homes” Project

The project is being undertaken by the new Vietnam Coalition for Climate Action, formed in August by a group of leaders from business, academia

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Vietnamese, Advocates, Solar Power
FILE - A solar panel installation is seen near a wind turbine at the Phu Lac wind farm in southern Vietnam's Binh Thuan province, April 23, 2019. VOA

Vietnamese advocates of solar power have begun a “Million Green Homes” project, aimed at spreading the use of solar power in the country instead of coal and other fossil fuels.

The project is being undertaken by the new Vietnam Coalition for Climate Action, formed in August by a group of leaders from business, academia and public organizations, and is designed to use a combination of public outreach and financial initiatives to get solar power on an additional million buildings.

Despite the “homes” in the project name, it is aimed at any small electricity consumers, especially those that can’t afford the cost of converting to solar power on their own, such as farms, small businesses, offices, and public buildings, such as hospitals and schools.

The project will focus on two types of solar power — panels connected to the national power grid that can supply electricity broadly and panels that generate electricity solely for the buildings to which they are attached.

Vietnamese, Advocates, Solar Power
FILE – A business in Ho Chi Minh City promotes solar panels. VOA

Advocates are also encouraging Vietnamese to use more solar power for uses ranging from stoves to water heaters.

The project is being conducted by the Green Innovation and Development Centre, a Hanoi-based organization that promotes sustainable development in Vietnam and the Mekong region. The project is now examining how to spread awareness and make solar power affordable to under-served communities.

The center will start a pilot project next year for new solar power consumers all across Vietnam, including Hanoi in the north and several provinces, such as Thua Thien-Hue in central Vietnam, Dak Lak in the central highlands, and  An Giang and Hau Giang in the south. The project will identify households and other small consumers eligible for support and help them install solar panels.

Environmentalists are pushing ahead with the effort, even though renewable energy discussions here have largely focused on government policies and corporate issues, and foreign investors want to be paid more for their electricity before they invest in solar power.

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“Climate change poses a real threat to the natural environment that supports all of humanity and the critical habitats that we work to protect,” said Van Ngoc Thinh, Vietnam country director of the World Wide Fund For Nature, one of the members of the coalition.

“I call on all committed leaders from across the private sector, universities, subnational governments, and civil society to join the VCCA to take climate action,” he added.

Coal plans

Another environmental organization in the climate alliance, the Ho Chi Minh City-based Center of Hands-on Actions and Networking for Growth and Environment, or CHANGE,  stressed in an email “the urgency of forming the alliance and the specific actions the alliance can contribute to promoting the use of rooftop solar [photovoltaic cells] and other energy-saving and green solutions.”

Vietnamese, Advocates, Solar Power
FILE – A solar water heater, left, and a solar panel are seen at Entech Hanoi, an international trade fair on energy efficiency and the environment, at the Giang Vo Exhibition Center in Hanoi, Vietnam. VOA

Much of that urgency comes from Vietnam’s increasing use of coal for energy, even while it considers itself one of the countries most at threat from climate change. The World Wide Fund For Nature in Vietnam said the Southeast Asian country plans to increase the number of coal-fired power plants from 20 now to 51 by 2030, which would cause carbon dioxide emissions to increase even more than expected.

Even amid government policies favoring more coal-fired plants, the government has expressed support for new types of energy sources.

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“Vietnam’s government always encourages the development and effective use of renewable energy sources,” Deputy Prime Minister Trinh Dinh Dung said at an event this summer. (VOA)