Thailand is a deeply divided market: In fact, the latest Thailand Market Analysis from Adobe reveals that 90% of 18- to 24-year-old Thais access the Internet each day using a smartphone, while only 25% of Thai households own computers.
With the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) predicting gross domestic product to rise 4.1% a year until 2019, a big opportunity awaits marketers who capitalise on Thailand’s improving fortunes.
However, reaching these key Thai demographics requires a strong understanding of this fragmented and mobile-centric market.
Mobile Makes Waves
Mobile penetration in Thailand has reached 30%, making it the third highest in the Asia-Pacific region, according to the Adobe analysis. In 2014, 20 million mobile handsets were sold in Thailand; of these, 16.5 million were smartphones.
Unlike other markets in the region, Thai smartphone users reveal a strong Android bias–78% of smartphones use the Android operating system while 18% use Apple’s iOS.
Thai consumers are also heavy users of the smartphone, reporting that they spend about 4.1 hours a day on their devices. This is the highest usage rate among Southeast Asian nations–and well ahead of Singapore’s 2.3 hours a day.
Asked why they use a smartphone to access the Internet, 27% of Thais explained that they had no other Internet-connected device available at home.
The Smart Path To Purchase
Mobile aside, Thailand’s online penetration is relatively small compared with other markets, with 25 million out of 68 million people regularly using the Internet. But yet again, growth is reasonably robust at 7%.
The real growth engine, however, is the smartphone. In Thailand, about 56% of Web page views come from desktops or laptops, while about 36% originate from smartphones. However, smartphone views are growing by a staggering 59% a year, while desktop views are declining by 19%.
Thailand already boasts the highest proportion of purchases through mobile in the region, at 63%. So while 12.14 million Thais said they had bought a product online in the past month, 7.4 million had made an online purchase using a mobile device in the past month.
Like the rest of the region, Thais use their phones to research a purchase, compare prices, and seek reviews. In all, 94% of survey respondents said they had used a smartphone to research products before buying. But unlike other nations in the region, they’re far more likely to use the phone to close the deal as well.
Indeed, reaching consumers during the research phase is critical: Thirty-one percent of survey respondents said they had changed their minds about a purchase they eventually made online as a result of information gathered from a smartphone, and 30% of respondents changed their mind about an in-store purchase based on information sourced from a smartphone.
Investment In Digital Ads Pays Off
Asked when and where they use their smartphones, 94% of Thai respondents said when they are at home, 81% said when they are on the go, and 64% said when they are in a store.
Responding to this hunger for online information, investment in digital advertising is rising in Thailand. Digital advertising expenditure is poised to reach $US244 million this year, up from $US183 million in 2014. It is money well-spent, given that 99% of Thai smartphone users say they notice mobile advertisements.
Investment in search optimisation is also important in Thailand, as 76% of digital consumers said they relied on search to at least some degree during their last purchase.
Finally, social media is another important influence, with 97% of Thai smartphone users who said they use Facebook. Twitter, meanwhile, recently enjoyed a phenomenal 350% growth rate in Thailand.