Understanding Consumer Psychology in Thailand

25 September 2009

Conference in December 3-4 (Thurs-Fri )
Queen’s Park Hotel, Bangkok – skytrain: Phrom Phong

If you are a foreign company or director doing business in Thailand
– or if you intend to establish a presence in Thailand –
then this conference is for you.

More details about the conference here. And to understand the value-for-money you will receive from this conference, please read the last section below.

What do you think of when you think of Honda? I had a Honda Civic once. It was my favorite car, fast, nippy, responsive handling… and always reliable. But since I heard of the troubles that K Duenpen had with her Honda (the woman who hammered her car to bits in Bangkok) plus the woman in Chiang Mai who’s Honda had to go in for major repairs five times in eleven months – I’ve decided that my next car will be a Toyota.

Polls by Forum and Gibbons (in the USA) show that the main reason why customers switch to a competing business is because they don’t like doing business with the company (70%). Only 15% say they switched because of a better price. And 15% said they switched because of technical quality. Nevertheless, basic reliability and overall value for money counts a lot too.

When it comes to quality and after-sales service, I had similar experiences with Sony. I’ve bought four Viao computers over the last seven years and each time I had problems. Viaos are sleek and stylish, but it takes Sony two months to repair even minor faults. I need my computer every day, I can’t afford to be without it for more than two or three days. The last time my Viao broke down, I lost so much money from not being able to work effectively that it would have been cheaper to throw the computer away and buy two new ones, one to work on and one for emergency back.

That’s what I did in the end. I bought a cheap Acer and when the Viao broke down again, I just threw it away!

Now, Acer has a great two-day repair service. But, last year, my Acer began to fall apart at the edges: a key broke off, the touchpad is faulty, it overheats and shuts down regularly, there’s a small mark on the screen, the battery runs out after 2 minutes… I could get it repaired fairly quickly, but it’s a hassle. I haven’t been able to find two or three days when I can take it in for repair.

It turned out to be more convenient simply to buy another computer. I bought an HP Compaq this time. I’m using it to write this article. And it’s probably the best computer I’ve had… ever. I’ve had it for nearly a year now. It’s also sleek and stylish… not quite like the Viao, but it has been so reliable: no breakdowns, everything still working, the battery still lasts several hours, etc. etc.

I am a typical consumer. I like to buy things. I buy digital cameras and video recorders, computers and printers, video players, TVs, clothes, furniture, fridges, books, DVDs, mobile phones, MP3 players and other gadgets, souvenirs, gifts… I go out to watch movies, eat out at restaurants, stay at resorts, etc. The list is endless.

And I have learnt which are the brands to avoid – I no longer buy anything made by SKG, or Sony computers. I don’t buy products from Watsons. I’ve been stung enough times to avoid buying from eBay. No more ‘no name’ brands, even if they seem like bargains. My last MP3 player/phone was a cheap LG, but it was so awkward to save and listen to music that I don’t use it for music at all – the very reason why I bought it. I went out and bought a simple Nokia instead, just to use as a phone; forget the music… My next purchase will be an iPod, the one made by Apple!

I tell all my friends and colleagues to avoid the brands that I’ve had problems with. And I recommend brands that worked for me. I had an Israeli friend stay with me last month and on my recommendation, he bought an HP Compaq to take home with him. He was so impressed that he bought a second one for his brother!

Multiply my experiences by several thousands (or millions) of people, and you get a kind of ‘consumer intelligence’ that can either make your company super successful, or just mediocre. Sony lost a great deal of its market share to Acer as a result of its poor after-sales service, but it’s a rich company with slick marketing, so what do they care? Well, maybe they should… my partners in the UK started out buying Vaios for each of the 20+ travelling sales executives, but after having bought three units, we decided to switch to other brands that were more reliable and cost 1/3 of the price. We simply weren’t getting the value we were paying for.

Are your customers happy with the reliability of your product or service? And how do you know?

In the conference Understanding Consumer Psychology, we will discuss several approaches that connect product design with customer service & after-sales support and customer loyalty. It’s not just repeat business that brings you success, it’s the enthusiasm of your customers that brings in new customers and helps to expand your business.

And everything is connected. Good Corporate Responsibility means taking care of your staff, which means they look after your customers and take care of your business. And ensuring that you deliver on your “marketing promise” means that customers trust you to give them the best overall deal possible.

Once customers start to realize that the overall cost of your product or service is actually cheaper than the cheap ‘n nasty products offered by the competition, your company will become more profitable, even if you don’t have a larger market share than your competitors.

It will be this kind of thinking we will be helping you to develop in the conference.

Please come and contribute your questions, problems and ideas with other like-minded business owners and directors.

Even if you take back – and implement – one good idea from the conference, you are likely to see a return of possibly millions of baht (depending of course on the scale of your business).

Click here for more details about the conference.

So what value do you get out of this conference?

Well firstly, to hold a two-day conference in-house with just one seminar leader would cost 200,000 baht. We have four!

Secondly, we all have on-the-ground, practical expertise of establishing and operating businesses in Thailand. We’ve made many of the mistakes that you are about to make, or have probably made already if you’ve been here a while.

Thirdly, we don’t talk about general blue-sky, total quality, leadership laws and other theoretical principles. We will be discussing real, practical solutions that you can implement relatively easily to obtain dramatic results.

Finally, this is a conference of other like-minded decision makers, each bringing their own experience and expertise to the table. We will be tackling difficult issues that do not have simple one-size-fits-all solutions. We don’t have all the answers. Our panel has been grappling with these issues for years, and we are still looking for more effective ways to grow profitable and sustainable businesses. Your contribution counts too. And so do your problems and questions.

You can’t get that even if you hire in an international expert or two to provide consultancy to your leadership team, whatever the cost.

Two days of your time and 28,000 baht is good value. You will get back many times more than that if you implement one or more of the approaches we discuss during the conference. Our marketing promise to you is that we will make sure of that. Our reputation and future profitability depends on keeping our promises too!

Each member of our team will continue to assist you in developing and implementing these principles further in your organization. This is not just a conference. It’s a beginning. We want to help you grow successfully. After all, our success depends on your success. We’re hoping that you will subsequently engage us as practical consultants in helping you to develop your business.

As Stephen Covey advises in the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Think Win/Win.

Click here for more details about the conference.

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