Distributors and retailers have reported big changes in the Vietnamese consumption habits. 57 percent of the family budget is spent on food, while the other 43 percent on non-food products.
Four big supermarket chains in HCM City, namely Co-op mart, Big C, Maximark and Citimart, all have reported that in the current economic difficulties, consumers have to fasten their belt and cut down spending. However, while the purse gets lighter in the context of high inflation, the people’s demand increases and the range of products gets wider. All that factors have changed consumers’ habits.
On February 25, at Co-op Phu My Hung in district 7 of HCM City, while waiting at the check-out counters, Hien and Loan still discussed about whether to buy a set of bowls. The husband said that they would be better to take the set because the retailer offered a price discount. Meanwhile, the wife wants to save 100,000 dong by abandoning the set.
Finally, they decided not to take the set of bowls. The bill of the couple showed that 90 percent of the products they bought were food, while there were only three non-food products, including a soap, dish washing liquid and toilet paper. The total sum of money they had to pay was 500,000 dong.
According to Co-op mart, which has branches in 32 cities and provinces nationwide, in 2009 and 2010, the revenue from food products was no more than 45 percent of the total revenue, while non-food products brought 55-60 percent of the total revenue.
However, the structure is changing gradually. The proportions now are 57 percent for food, and 43 percent for non-food products.
Nguyen Thanh Nhan, Deputy General Director of Saigon Co-op, has noted that in order to save money, consumers now prioritize to buy essential goods for their daily life, especially food. After that, they would consider buying the products on sale with price discounts.
“Consumers nowadays do not want to try new products, or simply choose the goods with familiar brands,” he said.
As for Citimart, 70 percent of the sales comes from food and essential goods (soap, detergent, shampoo), while the figure was just 40 percent in 2009.
Lam Minh Huy, General Director of Citimart supermarket chain, has also noted that in the central area, people tend to buy the goods which are both cheap and essential. Especially, some visitors even asked if the supermarket provides the services or repairing used products.
At Big C chain, fresh food and fast consumer goods account for 70-80 percent of the value of the bills.
Duong Thi Quynh Trang, Public Relation Director of Big C, has noted that as consumers try to save money, they tend to compare the prices and quality of similar products. Therefore, the products under the brands of supermarkets, which have reasonable prices, have been selling well.
Coop mart has announced that the number of products under the brand of Co-op mart would increase by 30 items this year, which would make up four percent of the total turnover of the chain (800 billion dong per annum).
The retailers have affirmed that the total sales still keep increasing steadily thanks to the higher number of customers, but the average value of the bills does not increase. Meanwhile, retailers have to offer more preferences to attract consumers.
Nguyen Phuong Thao, Director of Maximark, has noted that prior to 2010, food prices only decreased by 5 percent, and non-food products by 10 percent. Meanwhile, nowadays, the price discounts should be 10-22 percent for food, and 15-50 percent for non-food products to be attractive enough to lure customers.